All posts in “Nigeria”

African e-commerce startup Jumia files for IPO on NYSE

Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange today, per SEC documents and confirmation from CEO Sacha Poignonnec to TechCrunch.

The valuation, share price and timeline for public stock sales will be determined over the coming weeks for the Nigeria-headquartered company.

With a smooth filing process, Jumia will become the first African tech startup to list on a major global exchange.

Poignonnec would not pinpoint a date for the actual IPO, but noted the minimum SEC timeline for beginning sales activities (such as road shows) is 15 days after submitting first documents. Lead adviser on the listing is Morgan Stanley .

There have been numerous press reports on an anticipated Jumia IPO, but none of them confirmed by Jumia execs or an actual SEC, S-1 filing until today.

Jumia’s move to go public comes as several notable consumer digital sales startups have faltered in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation, largest economy and unofficial bellwether for e-commerce startup development on the continent. Konga.com, an early Jumia competitor in the race to wire African online retail, was sold in a distressed acquisition in 2018.

With the imminent IPO capital, Jumia will double down on its current strategy and regional focus.

“You’ll see in the prospectus that last year Jumia had 4 million consumers in countries that cover the vast majority of Africa. We’re really focused on growing our existing business, leadership position, number of sellers and consumer adoption in those markets,” Poignonnec said.

The pending IPO creates another milestone for Jumia. The venture became the first African startup unicorn in 2016, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a $326 funding round that included Goldman Sachs, AXA and MTN.

Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket Internet backing, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries, spanning Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Egypt. Goods and services lines include Jumia Food (an online takeout service), Jumia Flights (for travel bookings) and Jumia Deals (for classifieds). Jumia processed more than 13 million packages in 2018, according to company data.

Starting in Nigeria, the company created many of the components for its digital sales operations. This includes its JumiaPay payment platform and a delivery service of trucks and motorbikes that have become ubiquitous with the Lagos landscape.

Jumia has also opened itself up to traders and SMEs by allowing local merchants to harness Jumia to sell online. “There are over 81,000 active sellers on our platform. There’s a dedicated sellers page where they can sign-up and have access to our payment and delivery network, data, and analytic services,” Jumia Nigeria CEO Juliet Anammah told TechCrunch.

The most popular goods on Jumia’s shopping mall site include smartphones (priced in the $80 to $100 range), washing machines, fashion items, women’s hair care products and 32-inch TVs, according to Anammah.

E-commerce ventures, particularly in Nigeria, have captured the attention of VC investors looking to tap into Africa’s growing consumer markets. McKinsey & Company projects consumer spending on the continent to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, with African e-commerce accounting for up to 10 percent of retail sales.

Jumia has not yet turned a profit, but a snapshot of the company’s performance from shareholder Rocket Internet’s latest annual report shows an improving revenue profile. The company generated €93.8 million in revenues in 2017, up 11 percent from 2016, though its losses widened (with a negative EBITDA of €120 million). Rocket Internet is set to release full 2018 results (with updated Jumia figures) April 4, 2019.

Jumia’s move to list on the NYSE comes during an up and down period for B2C digital commerce in Nigeria. The distressed acquisition of Konga.com, backed by roughly $100 million in VC, created losses for investors, such as South African media, internet and investment company Naspers .

In late 2018, Nigerian online sales platform DealDey shut down. And TechCrunch reported this week that consumer-focused venture Gloo.ng has dropped B2C e-commerce altogether to pivot to e-procurement. The CEO cited better unit economics from B2B sales.

As demonstrated in other global startup markets, consumer-focused online retail can be a game of capital attrition to outpace competitors and reach critical mass before turning a profit. With its unicorn status and pending windfall from an NYSE listing, Jumia could be better positioned than any venture to win on e-commerce at scale in Africa.

Nigeria’s Gloo.ng drops consumer e-commerce, pivots to e-procurement

Nigerian startup Gloo.ng is dropping consumer online retail and pivoting to B2B e-procurement with Gloopro as its new name.

The Lagos-based venture has called it quits on e-commerce grocery services, shifting to a product that supplies large and medium corporates with everything from desks to toilet paper.

Gloopro’s new platform will generate revenues on a monthly fee structure and a percentage on goods delivered, according to Gloopro CEO D.O. Olusanya.

Gloopro, which raised around $1 million in seed capital as Gloo.ng, is also in the process of raising its Series A round. The startup looks to expand outside of Nigeria on that raise, “before the end of next year,” Olusanya told TechCrunch.

Gloopro’s move away from B2C comes as several notable consumer digital sales startups have failed to launch in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous nation with the continent’s highest number of online shoppers, per a recent UNCTAD report.

The country is home to the continent’s first e-commerce startup unicorn, Jumia, and serves as an unofficial bellwether for e-commerce startup activity in Africa.

Gloo.ng’s shift to B2B electronic commerce was prompted by Nigeria’s 2016 economic slump and a customer request, according Olusanya.

“When the recession hit it affected all consumer e-commerce negatively. We saw it was going to take a longer time to get to sustainability and profitability,” he told TechCrunch.

Then an existing client, Unilever, requested an e-procurement solution in 2017. “We observed that the unit economics of that business was far better than consumer e-commerce,” said Olusanya.

Gloopro dubs itself as a “secure cloud based enterprise e-procurement and commerce platform…[for]…corporate purchasing,” per a company description.

“The old brand Gloo.ng, is going to be rested and shut down completely. The corporate name will be PayMente Limited with the brand name Gloopro,” Olusanya said.

From the Gloopro interface customers can order, pay for and coordinate delivery of office supplies across multiple locations. The product also produces procurement analytics and allows companies to designate users and permissions.

Olusanya touts the product’s benefits at improving transparency and efficiency in the purchasing process.

“It makes procurement transparent and secure. A lot of companies in Nigeria still use paper invoices and there are some shenanigans,” he said.

Gloopro began offering the service in beta and building a customer base prior to winding down its Gloo.ng grocery service.

In addition to Unilever, Gloopro clients include Uber Nigeria, Cars45 and industrial equipment company LaFarge. Cars45 CEO Etop Ikpe and a spokesperson for Uber Nigeria confirmed their client status to TechCrunch.

Olusanya believes the company can compete with other global e-procurement providers, such as SAP Ariba and GT-Nexus, by “leveraging our sourcing and last-mile delivery experience in Nigeria” and expertise working around local requirements in Africa.

Gloopro expects to hit $4 million in revenue by the end of the year and the company could reach $100 million over the course of its international expansion into countries like South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and the Ivory Coast, according to Olusanya. A seed investor briefed on Gloo.ng’s estimates confirmed the company’s revenue expectations with TechCrunch.

Gloo.ng’s pivot to Gloopro and e-procurement comes during an up and down period for B2C online retail in Nigeria, home of Africa’s largest economy.

Last year, e-commerce startup Konga.com, backed by roughly $100 million in VC, was sold in a distressed acquisition, at a loss to investors, including Naspers. In late 2018, Nigerian online sales platform DealDey shut down.

On the possible upside, several outlets reported this year that Jumia — Africa’s largest e-commerce site and first unicorn headquartered in Nigeria — is pursuing an IPO. But that information is unconfirmed based on a February 8, Bloomberg story without named sources. Jumia has declined to comment.

Africa Roundup: Kenya’s BRCK acquires EveryLayer, Nigeria’s TeamApt eyes global expansion

Kenyan communications hardware company BRCK acquired the assets of Nairobi-based internet provider Surf and its U.S. parent EveryLayer in a purchase deal of an undisclosed amount in February.

Based in Nairobi, Surf is a hotspot service provider aimed at offering affordable internet to lower-income segments. BRCK is a five-year-old venture that pairs its rugged Wi-Fi routers to internet service packages designed to bring people online in frontier and emerging markets.

With the acquisition, BRCK gains the assets of San Francisco-based EveryLayer and its Surf subsidiary, including 1,200 hotspots and 200,000 active customers across 22 cities in Kenya, according to BRCK CEO and founder Erik Hersman.

Backed by $10 million from investors, including Steve Case’s Revolution VC fund, BRCK plans to use its new resources to expand to an undisclosed East African country and is eyeing options abroad. “We’re looking at Indonesia and starting our pilot in Mexico next month,” Hersman told TechCrunch on a call from Kigali.

BRCK built its platform around providing internet solutions primarily in Kenya and Rwanda. In 2017, the company rolled out its SupaBRCK product and paired it to its Moja service, which offers free public Wi-Fi — internet, music and entertainment — subsidized by commercial partners.

There’s not a requirement to click on or watch advertisements to gain Moja access, though users can gain faster speeds if they “interact with one of our business partners…by doing a survey, downloading an app or watching an ad,” said Hersman.

In 2018, BRCK began offering SupaBRCK devices to drivers of Nairobi’s Matatu buses for Kenyan commuters to access Moja. As of January, Moja traffic is racking up 300,000 active uniques and 3.7 million impressions per month, according to Hersman. There’s more on the deal and Africa’s internet connectivity equation in this TechCrunch exclusive on the acquisition.

Nigerian fintech startup TeamApt raised $5.5 million in capital in a Series A round led by Quantum Capital Partners.

The Lagos-based firm will use the funds to expand its white label digital finance products and pivot to consumer finance with the launch of its AptPay banking app.

Founded by Tosin Eniolorunda, TeamApt supplies financial and payment solutions to Nigeria’s largest commercial banks — including Zenith, UBA and ALAT.

For Eniolorunda, launching the fintech startup means competing with his former employer, the later-stage Nigerian tech company Interswitch.

The TeamApt founder is open about his company going head to head not only with Interswitch, but other Nigerian payment gateway startups, including Paystack and Flutterwave, he told TechCrunch in this exclusive.

TeamApt, whose name is derivative of aptitude, bootstrapped its way to its Series A by generating revenue project to project working for Nigerian companies, according to its CEO.

The venture now has a developer team of 40 in Lagos, according to Eniolorunda, who spent six years at Interswitch as a developer and engineer himself, before founding the startup in 2015.

“The 40 are out of a total staff of about 72 so the firm is a major engineering company. We build all the IP and of course use open source tools,” he said.

TeamApt’s commercial bank product offerings include Moneytor — a digital banking service for financial institutions to track transactions with web and mobile interfaces — and Monnify, an enterprise software suite for small business management.

On performance, TeamApt claims 26 African bank clients and processes $160 million in monthly transactions, according to company data. Though it does not produce public financial results, TeamApt claimed revenue growth of 4,500 percent over a three-year period.

Quantum Capital Partners, a Lagos-based investment firm founded by Nigerian banker Jim Ovia, confirmed it verified TeamApt’s numbers.

“Our CFO sat with them for about two weeks,” Elaine Delaney told TechCrunch.

TeamApt’s results and the startup’s global value proposition factored into the fund’s decision to serve as sole-investor in the $5.5 million round.

Delaney will take a board seat with TeamApt “as a supportive investor,” she said.

TeamApt plans to develop more business and consumer-based offerings. “We’re beginning to pilot into much more merchant and consumer-facing products where we’re building payment infrastructure to connect these banks to merchants and businesses,” CEO Tosin Eniolorunda said.

Part of this includes the launch of AptPay, which Eniolorunda describes as “a push payment, payment infrastructure” to “centralize…all services currently used on banking mobile apps.”

The company recently received its license from the Nigerian Central Bank to operate as a payment switch in the country.

On new markets, TeamApt is looking to Canada and Europe with a specific expansion announcement expected by fourth quarter 2019, according to Eniolorunda.

TeamApt’s CEO is open about the company’s future intent to list. “The project code name for the recent funding was NASDAQ. We’re clear about becoming a public company,” said Eniolorunda.

More Africa Related Stories @TechCrunch

African Tech Around The Net    

Africa Roundup: Zimbabwe’s net blackout, Partech’s $143M fund, Andela’s $100M raise, Flutterwave’s pivot

A high court in Zimbabwe ended the government’s restrictions on internet and social media last month.

After days of intermittent blackouts at the order of the country’s Minister of State for National Security, ISPs restored connectivity per a January 21 judicial order.

Similar to net shutdowns around the continent, politics and protests were the catalyst. Shortly after the government announced a dramatic increase in fuel prices on January 12, Zimbabwe’s Congress of Trade Unions called for a national strike.

Web and app blackouts in the southern African country followed demonstrations that broke out in several cities. A government crackdown ensued, with deaths reported.

On January 15, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile carrier, Econet Wireless, confirmed that it had complied with a directive from the Minister of State for National Security to shutdown internet.

Net access was restored, taken down again, then restored, but social media sites remained blocked through January 21.

Throughout the restrictions, many of Zimbabwe’s citizens and techies resorted to VPNs and workarounds to access net and social media, as reported in this TechCrunch feature.

Global internet rights group Access Now sprung to action, attaching its #KeepItOn hashtag to calls for the country’s government to reopen cyberspace soon after digital interference began.

The cyber-affair adds Zimbabwe to a growing list of African countries — including Cameroon, Congo and Ethiopia — whose governments have restricted internet expression in recent years.

It also provides another case study for techies and ISPs regaining their cyber rights. Internet and social media are back up in Zimbabwe — at least for now.

Further attempts to restrict net and app access in Zimbabwe will likely revive what’s become a somewhat ironic cycle for cyber shutdowns. When governments cut off internet and social media access, citizens still find ways to use internet and social media to stop them.

Partech doubled its Africa VC fund to $143 million and opened a Nairobi office to complement its Dakar practice.

The Partech Africa Fund plans to make 20 to 25 investments across roughly 10 countries over the next several years, according to general partner Tidjane Deme. The fund has added Ceasar Nyagha as investment officer for the Kenya office to expand its East Africa reach.

Partech Africa will primarily target Series A and B investments and some pre-series rounds at higher dollar amounts. “We will consider seed-funding — what we call seed-plus — tickets in the $500,000 range,” Deme told TechCrunch for this story on the new fund. Partech is open to all sectors “with a strong appetite for people who are tapping into Africa’s informal economies,” he said.

Partech Africa joined several Africa-focused funds over the last few years to mark a surge in VC for the continent’s startups. Partech announced its first raise of $70 million in early 2018 next to TLcom Capital’s $40 million, and TPG Growth’s $2 billion.

Africa-focused VC firms, including those locally run and managed, have grown to 51 globally, according to recent Crunchbase research.

Andela, the company that connects Africa’s top software developers with technology companies from the U.S. and around the world, raised $100 million in a new round of funding.

The new financing from Generation Investment Management (an investment fund co-founded by former VP Al Gore) puts the valuation of the company at somewhere between $600 million and $700 million—based on data available from PitchBook on the company’s valuation.

The company now has more than 200 customers paying for access to the roughly 1,100 developers Andela has trained and manages.

With the new cash in hand, Andela says it will double in size, hiring another thousand developers, and invest in new product development and its own engineering and data resources. More on Andela’s recent raise and focus here at TechCrunch.

Fintech startup Flutterwave announced a new consumer payment product for Africa called GetBarter, in partnership with Visa.

The app-based offering is aimed at facilitating personal and small merchant payments within and across African countries. Existing Visa  cardholders can send and receive funds at home or internationally on GetBarter.

The product also lets non-cardholders (those with accounts or mobile wallets on other platforms) create a virtual Visa card to link to the app.  A Visa spokesperson confirmed the product partnership.

GetBarter allows Flutterwave  — which has scaled as a payment gateway for big companies through its Rave product — to pivot to African consumers and traders.

The app also creates a network for clients on multiple financial platforms to make transfers across payment products and national borders, and to shop online.

“The target market is pretty much everyone who has a payment need in Africa. That includes the entire customer base of M-Pesa,  the entire bank customer base in Nigeria, mobile money and bank customers in Ghana — pretty much the entire continent,” Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola told TechCrunch in this exclusive.

Flutterwave and Visa will focus on building a GetBarter user base across mobile money and bank clients in Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa, with plans to grow across the continent and reach those off the financial grid.

Founded in 2016, Flutterwave has positioned itself as a global B2B payments solutions platform for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad. It allows clients to tap its APIs and work with Flutterwave developers to customize payments applications. Existing customers include Uber, Facebook,  Booking.com and African e-commerce unicorn Jumia.com.

Flutterwave added operations in Uganda in June and raised a $10 million Series A round in October The company also plugged into ledger activity in 2018, becoming a payment processing partner to the Ripple and Stellar blockchain networks.

Headquartered in San Francisco, with its largest operations center in Nigeria, the startup plans to add operations centers in South Africa and Cameroon, which will also become new markets for GetBarter.

And sadly, Africa’s tech community mourned losses in January. A terrorist attack on Nairobi’s 14 Riverside complex claimed the lives of six employees of fintech startup Cellulant and I-Dev CEO Jason Spindler. Both organizations had been engaged with TechCrunch’s Africa work over the last 24 months. Condolences to  family, friends and colleagues of those lost.

More Africa Related Stories @TechCrunch

African Tech Around The Net    

Connecting African software developers with top tech companies nets Andela $100 million

Andela, the company that connects Africa’s top software developers with technology companies from the U.S. and around the world, has raised $100 million in a new round of funding.

The new financing from Generation Investment Management (the investment fund co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore) puts the valuation of the company at somewhere between $600 million and $700 million, based on data available from PitchBook on the company’s valuation following its previous $40 million funding.

Previous investors from that financing, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, Spark Capital and CRE Venture Capital, also participated.

“It’s increasingly clear that the future of work will be distributed, in part due to the severe shortage of engineering talent,” says Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela. “Given our access to incredible talent across Africa, as well as what we’ve learned from scaling hundreds of engineering teams around the world, Andela is able to provide the talent and the technology to power high-performing teams and help companies adopt the distributed model faster.”

The company now has more than 200 customers paying for access to the roughly 1,100 developers Andela has trained and manages.

Since its founding in 2014, Andela has seen more than 130,000 applicants for those 1,100 slots. After a promising developer is onboarded and goes through a six-month training bootcamp at one of the company’s coding campuses in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda, they’re placed with an Andela customer to work as a remote, full-time employee.

Andela receives anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 per developer from a company and passes one-third of that directly on to the developer, with the remainder going to support the company’s operations and cover the cost of training and maintaining its facilities in Africa. Coders working with Andela sign a four-year commitment (with a two-year requirement to work at the company), after which they’re able to do whatever they want.

Even after the two-year period is up, Andela boasts a 98 percent retention rate for developers, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s operations.

With the new cash in hand, Andela says it will double in size, hiring another thousand developers, and invest in new product development and its own engineering and data resources. Part of that product development will focus on refining its performance monitoring and management toolkit for overseeing remote workforces. 

“We believe Andela is a transformational model to develop software engineers and deploy them at scale into the future enterprise,” says Lilly Wollman, co-head of Growth Equity at Generation Investment Management, in a statement. “The global demand for software engineers far exceeds supply, and that gap is projected to widen. Andela’s leading technology enables firms to effectively build and manage distributed engineering teams.”