All posts in “Nigeria”

Here’s what you missed at Startup Battlefield Lagos

Yesterday TechCrunch held its first-ever event in Nigeria — our second in Sub-Saharan Africa. The day was packed with Battlefield presentations from 15 different startups from across the region, along with panels featuring some of Africa’s best known tech entrepreneurs and executives.

It was an incredible day and offered a fascinating peak into an absolutely vibrant tech community. For those unable to make the trek through the standstill Lagos traffic, have no fear. We’ve included footage from the day’s event below. And for those who were lucky enough to join, you can relive the highlights right here.

Expats, Repats and Africans

Kwame Acheampong (Mall for Africa), Eleni Gabre-Madhin (blueMoon) and Lexi Novitske (Singularity Investments) discuss the ups and downs of the influence repatriates and outside investors exert on the African startup community

Fireside Chat with Funke Opeke

Main Street Technologies founder and Main One Cable Company CEO Funke Opeke has led the charge to bring broadband internet to West Africa. She discusses the role of entrepreneurship in helping to scale business.

Investing in African Startups

Kola Aina and other area investors discuss the lessons that can be learned from Silicon Valley VC and which aspects of the model don’t apply to the African tech ecosystem.

Blockchain’s Potential in Africa

Olugbenga Agboola (Flutterwave), Omolara Awoyemi (SureGroup) and Nichole Yembra (Greenhouse Capital) and Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi (SureRemit) discuss the impact crypto has had on the African tech community and the different ways blockchain technology can help build a broad cross section of different categories.

The Winner of Startup Battlefield

The winner of the event was M-SCAN from Uganda, which develops portable mobile ultrasound devices (Ultrasonic probes) that are laptop, tablet and mobile phone compatible. The judges were impressed with its scalability potential to make many other medical access devices affordable for Africa, where mother and infant mortality is unforgivably high.

Nigerian logistics startup Kobo360 raises $6M, expands in Africa

Nigerian trucking logistics startup Kobo360 has raised $6 million to upgrade its platform and expand operations to Ghana, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire.

The company — with an Uber -like app that connects truckers and companies with freight needs — gained the equity financing in an IFC led investment. The funding saw participation from others, including TLcom Capital and Y Combinator.

With the investment Kobo360 aims to become more than a trucking transit app.

“We started off as an app, but our goal is to build a global logistics operating system. We’re no longer an app, we’re a platform,” founder Obi Ozor told TechCrunch.

In addition to connecting truckers, producers and distributors, the company is building that platform to offer supply chain management tools for enterprise customers.

“Large enterprises are asking us for very specific features related to movement, tracking, and sales of their goods. We either integrate other services, like SAP, into Kobo or we build those solutions into our platform directly,” said Ozor.

Kobo360 will start by developing its API and opening it up to large enterprise customers.

“We want clients to be able to use our Kobo dashboard for everything; moving goods, tracking, sales, and accounting…and tackling their challenges,” said Ozor.

Kobo360 will also build more physical presence throughout Nigeria to service its business. “We’ll open 100 hubs before the end of 2019…to be able to help operations collect proof of delivery, to monitor trucks on the roads, and have closer access to truck owners for vehicle inspection and training,” said Ozor.

Kobo360 will add more warehousing capabilities, “to support our reverse logistics business”—one of the ways the company brings prices down by matching trucks with return freight after they drop their loads, rather than returning empty, according to Ozor.

Kobo360 will also use its $6 million investment to expand programs and services for its drivers, something Ozor sees as a strategic priority.

“The day you neglect your drivers you are not going to have a company, only issues. If Uber were more driver focused it would be a trillion dollar company today,” he said.

The startup offers drivers training and group programs on insurance, discounted petrol, and vehicle financing (KoboWin). Drivers on the Kobo360 app earn on average approximately $5000 per month, according to Ozor.

Under KoboCare, Kobo360 has also created an HMO for drivers and an incentive based program to pay for education. “We give school fee support, a 5000 Naira bonus per trip for drivers toward educational expenses for their kids,” said Ozor.

Kobo360 will complete limited expansion into new markets Ghana, Togo, and Cote D’Ivoire in 2019. “The expansion will be with existing customers, one in the port operations business, one in FMCG, and another in agriculture,” said Ozor

Ozor thinks the startup’s asset-free, digital platform and business model can outpace traditional long-haul 3PL providers in Nigeria by handling more volume at cheaper prices.

“Owning trucks is just too difficult to manage. The best scalable model is to aggregate trucks,” he told TechCrunch in a previous interview.

With the latest investment, IFC’s regional head for Africa Wale Ayeni and TLcom senior partner Omobola Johnson will join Kobo360’s board. “There’s a lot of inefficiencies in long-haul freight in Africa…and they’re building a platform that can help a lot of these issues,” said Ayeni of Kobo360’s appeal as an investment.

The company has served 900 businesses, aggregated a fleet of 8000 drivers and moved 155 million kilograms, per company stats. Top clients include Honeywell, Olam, Unilever, Dangote, and DHL.

MarketLine estimated the value of Nigeria’s transportation sector in 2016 at $6 billion, with 99.4 percent comprising road freight.

Logistics has become an active space in Africa’s tech sector with startup entrepreneurs connecting digital to delivery models. In Nigeria, Jumia founder Tunde Kehinde departed and founded Africa Courier Express. Startup Max.ng is wrapping an app around motorcycles as an e-delivery platform. Nairobi-based Lori Systems has moved into digital coordination of trucking in East Africa. And U.S.-based Zipline—who launched drone delivery of commercial medical supplies in partnership with the government of Rwanda and support of UPS—and is in “process of expanding to several other countries,” according to a spokesperson.

Kobo360 has plans for broader Africa expansion but would not name additional countries yet.

Ozor said the company is profitable, though the startup does not release financial results. Wale Ayeni also wouldn’t divulge revenue figures, but confirmed IFC’s did full “legal and financial due diligence on Kobo’s stats,” as part of the investment.

Ozor named Lori Systems as Kobo360’s closest African startup competitor.

On the biggest challenge to revenue generation, it’s all about service delivery and execution, according to Ozor.

“We already have volume and demand in the market. The biggest threat to revenues is if Kobo360’s platform doesn’t succeed in solving our client’s problems and bringing reliability to their needs,” he said.

African investors and founders to judge Startup Battlefield competition in Nigeria

TechCrunch will soon be returning to Africa to hold its Startup Battlefield competition dedicated to the African continent, in Lagos, Nigeria, on December 11th.

The event will showcase the launch of 15 of the hottest startups in Africa on stage for the first time. We’ll also be joined by some of the leading investment firms in the region. If you want to be in the same room, you’d better grab your tickets now.

Here are just some of the investors and founders who will be judging the startups competing for US$25,000.

Eleni Gabre-Madhin, blueMoon

Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin is founder and chief executive of blueMoon, Ethiopia’s first youth agribusiness/agritech incubator and seed investor. Prior to this, she founded eleni LLC, Africa’s leader in designing, building and supporting the operations of commodity exchange eco-systems in frontier markets. Dr. Gabre-Madhin is also founder and former CEO of Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), having successfully traded $1.2 billion annually after three years of operation.

Erik Hersman, BRCK

Erik Hersman is the CEO of BRCK a rugged wireless WiFi device designed and engineered in Kenya for use throughout the emerging markets. In 2010 he founded the iHub, Nairobi’s innovation hub for the technology community, bringing together entrepreneurs, hackers, designers and the investment community.

Minette Havemann, Naspers Ventures

Minette Havemann is strategy director at Naspers Ventures, which finds and backs promising technology startups across the world. She plays a leading role in identifying consumer and market trends shaping the team’s overall investment agenda and represents the team in Africa. Before this, Minette worked as General Manager of Strategy and Research at Media24 where she focused on business strategy development across a diverse portfolio spanning media, B2C e-commerce and classifieds assets.

Sangu Delle, Africa Health Holdings

Sangu is the co-founder and managing director of Africa Health Holdings, a company based in West Africa and focused on “building Africa’s healthcare future.” He also serves as Chairman of Golden Palm Investments Corporation, a holding company that has backed startups, including Andela, mPharma and Flutterwave. GPI portfolio companies have raised over $300 million in venture financing.

Wale Ayeni, International Finance Corporation

Wale Ayeni leads the IFC’s Venture Capital practice focused on Africa, South of the Sahara – the International Finance Organization is part of the World Bank Group. The IFC’s Venture capital team invests in technology companies in frontier markets, and has deployed over ~$800 million in early/growth stage tech investments over the past decade. Prior to the IFC, Wale led venture capital early-stage investments in disruptive startups across various technology sectors for Orange in Silicon Valley with representative investments in the U.S.

Get your tickets

Tickets to this event cost $10 (N3600 +VAT), and you can buy them right here.

Startup Battlefield consists of three preliminary rounds with 15 teams — five startups per round — who have only six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of expert technologists and VC investors. After each pitch, the judges have six minutes to grill the team with tough questions. This is all after the free pitch-coaching they receive from TechCrunch editors.

One startup will emerge the winner of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 — and receive a US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and win a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

Africa’s agtech wave gets $10 million richer as Twiga Foods raises more capital

Kenya’s Twiga Foods has raised $10 million from investors led by the International Finance Corporation to add processed food and fast-moving consumer goods to its product line-up.

The startup has built a B2B platform to improve the supply chain from farmers to markets. Twiga Foods now aims to scale additional merchandise on its digital network that coordinates pricing, payment, quality control and logistics across sellers and vendors.

CEO and co-founder Grant Brooke sees “a growth horizon…to build a B2B Amazon,” with produce as the base.

“If we can build a business around fresh fruit and vegetables, everything else after that is much simpler to add on,” he told TechCrunch.

“Fresh food and vegetables gives you clients that are ordering every two days, and now that’s paying for access to vendors and a proper way to be on every street,” said Brooke.

“It’s now much easier to lay things over that that would have been very expensive to get to end retailers.” In addition to the processed food FMCG it will add now, CEO Grant Brooke named household goods, such as light bulbs that stock and sell in lower volumes than produce, as something the startup could include in the future.     

The $10 million IFC-led investment — co-led by TLcom Capital — comes in the form of convertible notes, available later as equity, according to Wale Ayeni, regional head of IFC’s Africa VC practice. As part of the deal, Ayeni will join Twiga Foods’ board.

Of the decision to fund the startup, Ayeni indicated IFC likes what the company’s already done in “figuring out a way to service a mass market with a digital platform focused on food in a sector that’s not really been touched,” he said. Another factor was Twiga’s prospects to create additional revenue by improving B2B supply chain for FMCG and other consumer products.

Co-founded in Nairobi in 2014 by Brooke and Kenyan Peter Njonjo, Twiga Foods serves around 2,000 outlets a day with produce through a network of 13,000 farmers and 6,000 vendors. Parties can coordinate goods exchanges via mobile app using M-Pesa mobile money for payment.

The company has reduced typical post-harvest losses in Kenya from 30 percent to 4 percent for produce brought to market on the Twiga network, according to Brooke.

“That’s savings we can offer the outlets and better pricing we can offer the farmers,” he said.

Twiga Foods generates revenues from margins on the products it buys and sells. As an example, the company could buy bananas at around 19 shillings ($.19) a kilo and sell at 34 ($.34) shillings a kilo.

“Our margin is how efficient we are at moving products between those two elements,” and the company purchases from farmers at roughly 10 percent higher than Kenya’s traditional produce middlemen, according to Brooke.

Agtech has become a prominent startup sector in Africa. A number of companies, such as Ghana’s Agrocenta and Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, have raised VC for apps that coordinate payments, logistics and working capital across the continent’s farmers and food markets.

In 2017, Twiga Foods raised a $10.3 million Series A round lead by Wamda Capital. Earlier this year the startup partnered with IBM Africa to introduce to its network of vendors a blockchain-enabled finance working capital platform.

With the new investment and product expansion, Twiga Foods will explore offering to its client network additional financial services. The startup doesn’t divulge revenue information, but “profitability is on the horizon for us,” said Brooke.

Twiga Foods will maintain its focus primarily on Kenya, but “we’re starting to research and dabble in Tanzania,” according to Brooke.

The startup doesn’t plan to move beyond B2B to direct online retail. “I don’t think B2C e-commerce is viable on the continent once you factor in job size and cost of acquisition versus lifetime value,” said Brooke. He also named the high cost of marketing: “In B2C e-commerce space you really have to be in the advertising space. Our clients are ordering every two days with no marketing budget,” said Brooke.

So for the time being, Twiga Foods aims to stick with improving the supply chain for products between Kenya’s buyers and sellers.

Venture capital and the blockchain will be the talk at Startup Battlefield Africa

TechCrunch Startup Battlefield returns to Africa next month, and we have an agenda chock-full of interesting panels and our premier startup competition.

Joining us in Lagos, Nigeria on December 11 for a couple of those aforementioned panels will be Chris Folayan, the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa; Nichole Yembra, chief financial, risk and investment officer for Venture Garden Group (VGG) and a managing partner at GreenHouse Capital; and Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, partner at Hacked Capital.


Chris Folayan, who is originally from Nigeria, graduated from California State University, San Jose, and founded and sold several companies globally. He also established new companies in Africa, the U.S., the Middle East and Asia. Mall for Africa is a global economy e-commerce infrastructure company enabling Africans to purchase items directly from international online retailers in the U.S. and Europe, as well as local online retailers in Africa.

At VGG, Nichole Yembra is responsible for investor relations and the financial strategy of the seven technology companies under its umbrella as they serve public and private clients across the aviation, power, education, financial services, and social investment sectors. Through GreenHouse Capital, Nichole takes on fintech-enabled portfolio companies looking to transform the education, renewable energy, big data and fintech ecosystems.

Nichole Yembra

The portfolio companies’ products have connected over 3,000 students to tutors, revolutionized off-grid solar solutions and increased banking services of Nigeria’s nearly 84.6 million unbanked population. In addition to this work, Nichole is committed to making gender diversity a priority within the fintech space in Nigeria and enhancing opportunities for women in leadership.

Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi

Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi is a co-founder of SureGifts, a Nigeria-based gift card retailer and technology provider. Olaoluwa joined the founding team of Jumia in 2012 to work on business intelligence and commercial planning, before leaving to build SureGifts. He also consults on investment and financial strategy for Venture Garden Group. He studied Accounting and Finance at the University of the West Indies, Barbados.

And of course, the main event will be Startup Battlefield. Fifteen companies will compete in front of a live audience and top judges for a shot at US$25,000 USD in no-equity cash plus a trip for two to compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt in 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time).

Startup Battlefield Africa is right around the corner and you can get your tickets here.