UNICEF Innovation Funds for Drone Startups 2018 (Up to $100K Equity-free Investments)

The Unicef Innovation Fund is looking to make up to $100K equity-free investments to provide early stage (seed) finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity through the use of drones.

They are currently looking to invest in a group of companies developing drone solutions, including; software to collect, share and analyse data from UAVs (for low-connectivity areas); software to manage flight and delivery operations; business models and sustainable drone services in emerging markets and air safety, risk management tools and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) Systems.

In addition to funding, startups would receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions.

To apply startups must be registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries and have a working, open-source drone prototype or service (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results.

Applications are open until 22 July 2018.

More Information about eligibility on their website

African startups have raised a total $168.6 million in the first half of 2018 (4x jump vs same period in 2017)

 

This is turning out to be a great year for African startups seeking funding.

Halfway through the year, with 118 deals completed, startup funding on the continent has reached $168.6 millionsurpassing last year’s total of $167.7 million, according to a report by WeeTracker. The total funding is also nearly a four-fold increase on the $47.2 million raised in the first half of 2017.

Fintech remains the most attractive sector as investors continue to bet on the promise of startups focused on making payments and banking easier in Africa.Fintech also accounts for four of the 10 largest deals completed this year, receiving $95 million in funding—more than half of total amount raised on the continent. In the two largest deal Cellulant, a digital payments solutions company which operates in 11 African countries, raise $47.5 million in its Series C round while Branch, an online micro-lending platform, has raised $20 million. Even though Nigeria was the biggest funding destination for volume of deals with 29 completed, Kenya accounted for the most funds raised with $82.8 millionnearly three times the total of funding received by Nigerian startups.

As different reports on startup funding in Africa are released annually, the total amounts differ based on methodology. Last year, Disrupt Africa’s pegged total startup funding at $195 million while Partech Ventures annual funding report—which includes startups that have a primary market in Africa whether or not they are headquartered or incorporated on the continent—showed that $560 million was raised last year. For its part, while it tracks companies incorporated in Africa and companies incorporated elsewhere but have their primary focus on Africa, WeeTracker does not include major private equity deals in fields like manufacturing in its reports, says Nayantara Jha, the managing editor.

Startups that have a primary market in Africa whether or not they are headquartered or incorporated on the continent—showed that $560 million was raised last year. For its part, while it tracks companies incorporated in Africa and companies incorporated elsewhere but have their primary focus on Africa, WeeTracker does not include major private equity deals in fields like manufacturing in its reports, says Nayantara Jha, the managing editor

This article was first posted on Quartz Africa

 

 

 

Fintech Vs Agritech What Should Investors Hurdle Toward in Nigeria? (Part II)

 

This article is a continuation of a series, you can check out the first post here

In the last few years, African start-ups have successfully raised capital from angel investors both within and outside the continent. In 2015 about a $185M was raised in total, with Fintech bagging about 29.6% of this funding which is about $49.7M, while Agritechs raised about $50k in funding. Reported investments in Start-ups in Nigeria have increased to $49M in 2015 compared to $16M in 2014. Interestingly, Nigeria, which had the highest investment focus (about $109.3M), accounted for 29% of the total investments in African start-ups. In 2016, 146 African start-ups raised $129.1M with about 24% equalling $31.4M going to the Fintech sector according to Disrupt Africa’s tech Start-ups Funding Report.

 

Fintech

Fintechs have been by far the most funded start-ups since tracking began. In 2017 a third of all the funding to the Nigerian tech ecosystem went to Fintechs and this proportion has remained stable in the last three years, so it is safe to say that Fintech is worth a third of the entire tech ecosystem. Investments in Fintech in Nigeria and other parts of Africa have moved from about $198M in 2014, to $800M currently. Though global investments in Fintech were put at $19B in 2015, indications have shown that investors are increasingly attracted to the industry’s potential to tap into Africa’s huge unserved/underserved population. KPMG states that investment in Nigerian Fintech over the last two years exceeded the $200M mark with $195M being invested in 2017 alone. Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa were the top three recipients of Fintech investments in Africa over the last two years. This is even as start-ups are increasingly accounting for a significant portion of Fintech investments, accounting for 30 per cent of the total funding raised by African tech businesses in 2015. KPMG observed that Venture Capitalist/Angel investors were early-stage investors in Fintech businesses in Nigeria in line with global trends. It, however, said Nigerian banks, which had previously invested in Fintech start-ups such as Interswitch and Valucard are now predominantly consumers.  In the Tech start-up funding report for 2017 released by Disrupt Africa Fintech was the most attractive sector for investors. The high investment in Fintech start-ups is really something noteworthy because banking penetration is low. In 2014, the number of bank accounts relative to population was 34% in Africa.

For the past two years, the total investment in Agritech in Africa has amounted to $19M. With nearly one billion people in Africa active as smallholder farmers, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors alike are starting to tap into the Agritech space. This space is charting out a decidedly upward trajectory, with funding into this sector growing 203 per cent in 2017. Agritech start-ups across the continent raised a combined total of US$13.2M in funding last year, the fourth largest of any sector. This was up 203 per cent on 2016 figures, which had in turn been an increase of 8,660 per cent on the pitiful of US$50K raised by Agritech start-ups in 2015. Agritech is hot right now internationally, and Africa is no exception. Investment tends to be Marco economically stable, people have to eat, and there are a number of acquirers perusing the space lately looking for opportunities.

This level of investment is confirmation that Agritech has become a key sector of interest not just for venture capital investors, but also for impact investors, individuals, family offices, institutions, and strategic players. Some high-profile investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which invested across biological inputs and alternative proteins, Google, actress Demi Moore, actor Jared Leto, Stanford University, and the University of Texas Investment Management Company. The corporate venture arms of big agribusiness also stepped up their participation in 2015 with Monsanto and Syngenta leading the way.

 

Microtraction Invests in Nigerian Fintech Start-ups CowryWise and Bitkoin Africa

A Nigerian early-stage fund Microtraction has invested in 2 fintech start-ups named CowryWise and Bitkoin Africa, and more of such funding is set to be disclosed in the coming weeks. Microtraction was launched in July 2017 as an investment platform, and today plans to invest $65K in start-ups at the various stages of their development.

Having announced the first pair of undisclosed investments last year and completed the deals, the founder and managing partner of the platform, Yele Bademosireported that more investments would be announced in the coming weeks.

CowryWise is a secure automated service platform that assists users in saving cash and enjoying high returns from risk-free investments in Nigeria with zero fees. According to Bademosi, “With CowryWise the opportunity is big-time. They are offering a wonderful product that solves a genuine problem which is also cumbersome for the existing competition to offer, bringing about a sustainable moat”. Adding, he said, “They need to scale very fast over the next 12 to 18 months and continually increase the customers they have on the system.”

 

Meanwhile, Bitkoin Africa is a platform that offers users a comfortable and secure way to trade Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin cash in Africa. Bademosi, commenting, said. “Our investment with Bitkoin Africa is the true definition of microtraction. I believe when a good opportunity, in this case- a fast-growing market – meets a good entrepreneur, great things will occur”.

He added that, “This investment is about convexity, that is – there is limited downside and unlimited upside. The downside the complete loss of our investment capital and the upside is the ability to play a role in building a firm that democratizes not only access to digital coins, but an open financial infrastructure that has the capacity to enable various things from credit, remittances, insurance, and capital formation to decentralized store of value. I am of the belief that the masterminds behind Bitkoin Africa have what it takes to navigate the avenues or bottleneck that will ensue”.

This article first appeared on Disrupt Africa

 

 

Applications for Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 Funding Cycle are now Open

US seed accelerator Y Combinator (YC) has opened applications for its winter 2019 funding cycle. Yesterday we published an article about how Kobo360 raised pre-seed funding from Y Combinator, you can read about it here.

This announcement was made on Monday last week and the deadline for interested start-ups is 2 October 2018. Y Combinator invests $120K in start-ups for 7% equity in return. On its website the accelerator notes that sometime between late October and early December, it will invite the best startups to meet with its representatives in Mountain View (Silicon Valley), California where it will then select the companies it will invest in. The founding teams of the selected startups will be expected to relocate their companies to San Francisco’s Bay Area. YC will assist founders in creating a US company into which the accelerator will invest in.

What you need to know

  1. If you want to apply, please submit your application online by 8 pm PT on October 2. Startups that submit early have a small advantage because we have more time to read their applications. And you can submit after the deadline – though keep in mind that the later you apply, the harder it is to get in.
  2. On October 23, by 10 PM, we’ll invite the startups that seem most promising to meet us in Mountain View either in late October, November, or early December. We’ll reimburse reasonable travel expenses.
  3. We decide what startups to fund after each day of interviews.
  4. If we invest in your startup, your company’s founding team is expected to move to the Bay Area for January–March 2019. You can, of course, relocate the company afterward if you want, but it’s a good place for a startup to be.
  5. Y Combinator doesn’t supply office space. We have space your company can use if you need to, but we expect your startup to work out of wherever you find to live. It is no coincidence that so many successful startups have started this way; it’s the ideal setup for the initial phase.
  6. During the 3 month cycle, we’ll have dinners every Tuesday for all the founders. At each dinner, we’ll invite an expert in some aspect of startups to speak.
  7. We have regular office hours year round for startups who want to talk about what they’re building, or get advice on dealing with investors. We also have occasional events at YC.
  8. During and after the 3 months we introduce startups individually to people who could help them. The founders of other YC-funded companies tend to be especially helpful. Today the YC alumni network is probably the most powerful network in the startup world.
  9. About 11 weeks in, we organize an event called Demo Day at which the startups present to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.
  10. YC doesn’t really end after 3 months; only the dinners do. We continue to give advice and make introductions as long as our startups need—-and so does the informal network of YC-funded companies.

Who we fund

How do we choose which startups to fund?

We’ll fund companies from anywhere in the world. We fund companies doing everything from building mobile apps to diagnosing cancer.

We’ll happily fund companies that just started and have nothing more than an idea. And we’ve funded companies that had over $20M in annual revenue and over 50 employees.

International founders, please note: if your company is already incorporated as a non-United States company, to participate in YC you will need to convert your foreign company into a United States corporation (usually with a foreign subsidiary). While lawyers will drive this process, it will require a significant effort on your part.

You must have at least 10% equity in the startup to be considered a founder by Y Combinator. Only founders can come to interviews if invited or attend batch events if accepted.

Also read this guide on what the accelerator looks for in successful submissions.

 

Fintech vs Agritech What Should Investors Hurdle towards In Nigeria?

 

Fintech

In Nigeria, the Fintech sector has evolved beyond money payment platforms, it now includes many forms of technological innovation in the financial sector.  The platforms can be grouped into:

  1. Payments
  2. Lending
  3. Merchant services
  4. Loyalty platforms
  5. Crypto currency
  6. Finance management
  7. Banking services.

The Fintech sector is fast becoming one of the most crowded sectors in the Nigerian Tech eco system, and because Fintech is perceived to be the future almost every commercial bank has a Fintech platform that they are backing up. Fintech is a rapidly evolving segment of the Financial services industry where technology focused start-ups and other new market entrants are disrupting how the industry operates. Fintechs function by innovating the traditional products and services provided by the financial service industry. This innovation is achieved by introducing technology-driven applications which transform customer expectations and create opportunities in underserved markets. While start-ups are redesigning the financial services processes with their high-end technological expertise, incumbent players are also following suit and investing heavily in creating new products of their own. The trend is increasingly shifting from start-ups seen majorly as disrupters to also being enablers of change. Hence, there is greater collaboration being seen and expected between different players of the ecosystem with the start-ups.

The Emergence of Fintech companies in Nigeria is a prelude to the transformation in payments, lending and personal finance that has manifested in significant investor interest in recent times. Fintech is enabling the entire value chain of traditional financial institutions to establish better connections with customers and to provide new market offerings. There are numerous start-ups cutting across various business segments and functions, predominantly in payments and lending.

In developed countries, Fintech startups disrupt traditional banking services, but in the African context Fintechs are trying to solve basic banking problems, like making it easier to transfer money, open a bank account, save some money, get a loan, and get insurance coverage. Rather than entirely disrupt, Fintech startups are sort of “building a whole new infrastructure of their own”.

Agritech

Agriculture is a big business in Africa the sector employs about 65% of the continents labour force, and accounts for about 32% of gross domestic product (GDP) according to the World Bank. Yet it is beset by problems. Africa’s population is growing it is projected to reach two million by 2050 but farm productivity is low, as a result of weather changes, lack of technical equipment and expertise, and the movement of young people away from farming areas to cities. Help, however, is at hand. African entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing the inherent opportunities within the agriculture sector, developing solutions that do everything from help farmers increase their yields to providing better access to markets. In Nigeria there are peculiar challenges facing agriculture such as the fact that country is oil dominated, underinvestment to the agricultural sector, poverty among small- scale farmers and of course rural-urban migration that has robbed farm lands of workers. To address the challenges of agriculture in Nigeria a number of Agritech startups have appeared in a bid to use a range of tools to improve the livelihood of small farm holders. In essence Agritechs work with farmers and cooperatives to provide the best quality of commodities for international trading market.

Technology is helping to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector in Africa, as Agritech startups from the continent show growth while making an impact on African communities.

Agritech is subdivided into the following categories:

  1. Food Marketplace/Ecommerce
  2. Agricultural Biotechnology
  3. Farm management, sensing & IoT
  4. Novel farming systems
  5. Supply Chain technologies
  6. Bioenergy & Biomaterials
  7. Innovative Food
  8. Robotics, Mechanization& other Farm Eq
  9. Other

The continuation to this article can be found here

 

GreenHouse Capital 2018 Female-Focused Tech Accelerator Program in Nigeria ($100k USD mininmum investment opportunity)

 

GreenHouse Lab has opened applications for the first female-focused tech accelerator program in Nigeria.

The first of its kind in Nigeria, GreenHouse Lab is a three-month accelerator focused solely on early-stage, women-led technology start-ups in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as African run start-ups domiciled in the US or UK with products that are scalable in African markets.

GreenHouse Lab is run by GreenHouse Capital, an investment holding company within Venture Garden Group (VGG) – a provider of innovative, data-driven, end-to-end technology platforms to solve real socio-economic challenges in impact sectors critical to sustainable economic development.

In a statement made available to Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa over the weekend, the technology-focused venture capital firms said it has invested in 15 companies and combined and have raised $40 million in Capital.

Tosin Durotoye, Director of GreenHouse Lab, said: “without women at the tech table, we’ll fail to tap into the vast brainpower and opportunity for innovation necessary to propel Nigeria and Africa as a whole, forward.”

“Our mission at GreenHouse Lab is to level the playing field by providing early-stage, women-led, high-growth technology start-ups with investments and support infrastructure within the range of $250,000 and provide exceptional teams with the resources and mentorship network they need to drive growth and scale their companies both in emerging and international markets.”

About the program

The program is residential and will be hosted at Vibranium Valley – VGG’s tech campus in Lagos.

GreenHouse Lab features an intensive curriculum delivered in-person and virtually and leverages existing entrepreneurship education frameworks focused on a variety of key topics including, but not limited to, product development, market segmentation, human capital, marketing, and fundraising. Other channels of engagement include weekly lunch presentations, guest lectures, and office hours with the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs).

The accelerator ends with a demo day where companies get to pitch their businesses to a wide network of local and international investors.

As a VC firm with a portfolio of companies, GreenHouse Capital will also invest a minimum of $100,000 in companies that qualify and reach specific milestones at the end of the program.

Criteria for selection

GreenHouse Lab seeks companies with the right team to build a successful company and as such, will select startups that are extremely passionate about their chosen vertical and demonstrate the necessary commitment to building the company of their dreams.

Each startup must have at least one woman on their leadership team which should consist of at least two members and at least one technical member.

Eligible companies must be early-stage, investment-ready tech startups that have identified a critical need in Africa and are building an effective, sustainable and scalable solution.

Each company must have developed, at a minimum, a beta-product and be in the process of refining their go-to-market strategy, building out sales channels and generating revenue.

The three-month accelerator begins in mid-August and ends in mid-November. Selected startups will be required to commit full-time to the program.

The application portal for the 2018 cohort opens on July 2, 2018, at www.greenhouse.capital/greenhouselab and closes on July 20.

Nigerian logistics Start-up Kobo360 raises $1.2M in Pre-seed funding.

 

Kobo 360 is an Uber like app that connects Nigerian truckers to companies with freight needs. Kobo360 has served 324 businesses, aggregated a fleet of 5480 drivers, and moved 37.6M kilograms of cargo since 2017, per company stats. Top clients include Honeywell, Olam, Unilever, and DHL.

it was accepted into this years YC’s class where it recieved $1.2M in pre-seed funding for 7% equity, this funding was led by Western Technology Investment and supported by Verod Capital Management.

Earlier this year when Obi Ozor a co-founder of the start up was interviewed for Y Combinator’s 2018 cohort. He was asked “What’s holding you back from becoming a unicorn?” he replied “Working Capital’.

Ozor previously headed Uber Nigeria, before teaming up with Ife Oyodeli to co-found Kobo360. They initially targeted 3PL for Nigeria’s e-commerce boom namely; Jumia (now Africa’s first unicorn) and Konga (recently purchased in a distressed acquisition). Ozor said Kobo360 created the platform because of limited vehicle finance options for truckers in Nigeria.

Within just 4 months since their launch, Kobo360 reportedly processed orders worth an estimated $2.8 million. The company reportedly coordinates 5,000 trips a month, has served 324 businesses and moved north of 37 million kilograms of cargo since 2017. It currently has 5,480 active drivers using the platform.

Kobo360 is looking to launch its app in Hausa and Pidgin by August this year. It also plans to add 20,000 trucks on its platform and expand to Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Senegal.

Kobo360 is also launching the Kobo Wealth Investment Network, or KoboWIN a crowd-invest, vehicle financing program. Through it, Kobo drivers can finance new trucks through citizen investors and pay them back directly (with interest) over a 60-month period.

 

 

 

 

Agritech Incubation Program

FCMB in partnership with Wennovation Hub is set to host the 2018 Agritech incubation program. The incubation program is set out to guide early-stage entrepreneurs to test and validate their ideas as well as gather their first set of customers or pivot if need be. This will be achieved through a combination of financial support, guidance and training.

Benefits

  • Up to ₦2.25 million will be given to the top two selected startups.
  • Unrestricted access to the fully serviced workspace.
  • Intangibles (company registration, audit services, developer toolkit etc) worth $10k 4. Access to our local & international networks
  • 6 months mentorship with one on one mentor-mentee pairing.
  • Access to market by leveraging Wennovation Hub’s existing community.

Criteria

  • Competence of team
  • The viability of idea Innovation
  • Market and Scalability
  • Registered companies would be an advantage.
  • Female-led teams would also be given a considerable advantage.

How to Apply

Application deadline is 20th of June 2018. Visit the link to register.

Startup Opportunities: SeedStar Africa back with a bang with $1M cash prize up for grabs

Seedstars World Startup Competition 2018

Seedstars is back in Africa to scout for top high growth startups and entrepreneurs to accelerate on the path of global scale. As it turns out, applications are currently ongoing for the Seedstars World Competition 2018 for emerging markets.

In this 2018 edition of their annual tour, 20 Africans countries will be visited to host bootcamps and pitch competitions. Tne winner from each country will be invited to the finals at the Seedstars summit in Switzerland.

Benefits

  • The participants will stand an opportunity to get a VC investment of up to $1 million and more in cash prizes.
  • The participants will stand a chance to be mentored by the best people in their respective industry globally.

Eligibility

  • Startups should have a existed for at least a minimum of two years.
  • Should have raised a minimum of $500,000 in funding.
  • Should have a minimum viable product.
  • Should have technology as the core of their central operation, while solving a basic problem.
  • Startups should ensure they have a venture profile published on VC4Africa platform, with up-to-date pitch decks attached.

How to Apply

Deadline is 6 August 2018, so hurry to fill this form to attend any of the local events in Africa.