Canal+ acquires Nollywood studio ROK from IROKOtv to grow African film


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




French television company Canal+ has acquired the ROK film studio from VOD company IROKOtv for an undisclosed amount.

Founded by Jason Njoku in 2010—and backed by $45 million  in VC—IROKOtv boasts the largest online catalog of Nollywood film content in the world.

Nollywood is a movie genre popularized in Nigeria that has become Africa’s de facto film industry and one of the largest globally, by production volume.

Based in Lagos, ROK film studios was incubated to create original content for IROKOtv, which can be accessed online anywhere in the world.

Actress and producer Mary Njoku—IROKOtv CEO Jason Njoku’s wife—founded ROK studios and will stay on as Director General under the Canal+ acquisition.

Owned by media conglomerate Vivendi, Canal+ looks to give Mary more production resources, without disrupting ROK’s creative chemistry.

“We are acquiring the talent of Mary,” Canal+ Chief Content Officer Fabrice Faux told TechCrunch on a call.

“We

Mary Njoku ROK Irokotv
Ojukwu ROK IROKOtv

Continue reading “Canal+ acquires Nollywood studio ROK from IROKOtv to grow African film”

Opera founded startup OPay raises $50M for mobile finance in Nigeria


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




OPay, an Africa focused mobile payments startup founded by Norwegian browser company Opera, has raised $50 million in funding.

Lead investors include Sequoia China, IDG Capital, and Source Code Capital. Opera also joined the round in the payments venture it created.

OPay will use the capital (which wasn’t given a stage designation) primarily to grow its digital finance business in Nigeria—Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

OPay will also support Opera’s growing commercial network in Nigeria, which includes a motorcycle ride-hail app ORide and OFood delivery service.

Opera founded Opay in 2018 on the popularity of its internet search engine. Opera’s web-browser has ranked number two in usage in Africa, after Chrome, the last four years.

Opera Opay NigeriaOn the payments side, OPay in Nigeria has scaled to 40,000 active agents and $5 million in transaction volume in 10 months.

The $50 million investment in OPay is more than

Continue reading “Opera founded startup OPay raises $50M for mobile finance in Nigeria”

InDriver launches ride-hail app in fourth African country, Uganda


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Global ride-hail startup InDriver launches its app-based service in Kampala (Uganda) this week.

After going live in Nairobi in June—the online taxi company now operates in four African countries: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Tanzania

Founded in Russia and now headquartered in New York, InDriver’s mobile-app allows passengers to name their own fare for nearby drivers to accept, decline, or counter. The startup operates in 200 cities, is used by 26 million people, and has raised $15 million in two rounds from Leta Capital, according to a release, Crunchbase, and a company spokesperson.

InDriver entered Latin America and Tanzania in 2018. The startup sees a value proposition for Africa based around urbanization, demographics, and some of the unique characteristics of its platform.

“We think Africa is going to be a big market for us because there’s a lot of cities and high population [areas] that still don’t have access

InDriver Map

Continue reading “InDriver launches ride-hail app in fourth African country, Uganda”

Africa Roundup: Yamaha backs MAX, Founders Factory and Norrsken support startups, inside Ethiopia’s tech scene


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Competition in Africa’s two-wheel ride-hail market is accelerating. Nigerian motorcycle transit startup MAX.ng was the latest startup to add funding, raising a $7 million funding round in June with participation of Japanese manufacturer Yamaha.

Based in Lagos, the company’s app-based platform coordinates motorcycle taxi and delivery services for individuals and businesses.

With the Series A funding MAX intends to invest in its tech infrastructure, expand to 10 cities and add new vehicle classes — including watercraft and three-wheeled tuk tuk taxis. The company will also use its new funding to pilot e-motorcycles in Africa powered by renewable energy, CFO Guy-Bertrand Njoya told TechCrunch.

MAX.ng’s moves come after competitor Gokada (also based in Lagos) raised a $5.3 million round in May and announced it would expand in East Africa. Uganda-based motorcycle ride-hail company SafeBoda expanded

Continue reading “Africa Roundup: Yamaha backs MAX, Founders Factory and Norrsken support startups, inside Ethiopia’s tech scene”

Founders Factory Africa and Netcare to fund 35 health-tech startups


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Founders Factory Africa and South African healthcare company Netcare will select 35 African health-tech startups for an acceleration and incubation program.

The partnership includes an investment (of an undisclosed amount) by Netcare in Founder’s Factory Africa, or FFA. The Johannesburg located organization was formed in 2018 as an extension of Founders Factory in London—an accelerator that has graduated 122 startups.

The application process is now open for FFA’s new Africa health-tech program, which will accelerate 5 startups a year and incubate 2, FFA CEO Roo Rogers told TechCrunch.

Criteria for the accelerator startups include that they have a healthcare focus, be post-revenue, and have a Pan-African scope.

Accelerated startups will receive a £30,00 cash investment (≈$38,000) and £220,000 in support services from Founders Factory Africa. Incubator health-tech ventures will receive £60K cash and £100K toward support. 

Founders Factory Africa and Netcare will share a 5 to 10 percent

Briter Bridges Africa Healthtech Innovation Maps
World Bank Africa Life Expectancy.png II

Continue reading “Founders Factory Africa and Netcare to fund 35 health-tech startups”

South African SME finance startup Lulalend raises $6.5M Series A


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




South African digital lender Lulalend has raised a $6.5 million Series A round co-led by IFC and Quona Capital.

The Cape Town based startup uses an online application process and internal credit metrics to provide short-term loans to small and medium sized businesses that are often unable to obtain working capital.

Lulalend will use the round to build its tech and data team and improve its ability to reach more SMEs in South Africa, according CEO Trevor Gosling—who co-founded the startup in 2014 with Neil Welman.

“The biggest thing is strengthening our balance sheet so we can access traditional debt funding to grow our loan book,” Gosling told TechCrunch on a call.

On the market for Lulalend’s business, Gosling highlighted IFC numbers indicating a $23 billion financing gap for South Africa’s SME’s—which are estimated to contribute 34 percent of the GDP for the country of 56 million.

Lulalend’s loan

Lulalend loan terms
Lula 197 2

Continue reading “South African SME finance startup Lulalend raises $6.5M Series A”

African fintech dominates Catalyst Fund’s 2019 startup cohort


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




African fintech has taken center stage for the Catalyst Fund, a JP Morgan Chase and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed accelerator that provides mentorship and non-equity funding to emerging markets startups.

The organization announced its 2019 startup cohort and three out of the four finance ventures — Chipper Cash, Salutat and Turaco — have an Africa focus (Brazil-based venture Diin, was the fourth).

Catalyst Fund, which is managed by global tech consulting firm BFA,  also released its latest evaluation report, which showed 60% of the organization’s portfolio startups are located in Africa.

The new additions to the fund’s program will gain $50,000 to $60,000 in non-equity venture building support (as Catalyst Fund dubs it) and six months of technical assistance. The funds and support are aimed at moving the ventures to the next phase of catalyzing business models, generating revenue and connecting to global VCs.

“We

Continue reading “African fintech dominates Catalyst Fund’s 2019 startup cohort”

Ethiopia’s bid to become an African startup hub hinges on connectivity


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Ethiopia is flexing its ambitions to become Africa’s next startup hub.

The country of 105 million with the continent’s seventh largest economy is revamping government policies, firing up angel networks, and rallying digital entrepreneurs.

Ethiopia currently lags the continent’s tech standouts—like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa—that have become focal points for startup formation, VC, and exits.

To join those ranks, the East African nation will need to improve its internet environment, largely controlled by one government owned telecom. Last week Ethiopia’s government shut down the internet for the entire nation.

Startups, hubs, accelerators

Ethiopia has the workings of a budding tech scene. Much of it was on display recently at the county’s first Startup Ethiopia event held in Addis Ababa.

On the startup front, ride-hail ventures Ride and ZayRide have begun to show traction (Uber has not yet entered Ethiopia). Their cars are visible buzzing throughout the capital and ZayRide

Continue reading “Ethiopia’s bid to become an African startup hub hinges on connectivity”

MAX.ng raises $7M round backed by Yamaha and pilots EVs in Nigeria


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Nigerian motorcycle transit startup MAX.ng has raised a $7 million funding round led by Novastar Ventures, with participation of Japanese manufacturer Yamaha.

Based in Lagos, the company’s app-based platform coordinates motorcycle taxi and delivery services for individuals and businesses. Six-million of the investment is in Series A capital followed by $1 million in grants.

MAX has an extended menu for the round. “We intend to invest massively in our technology capabilities,” including the company’s payment infrastructure, CFO Guy-Bertrand Njoya told TechCrunch.

The startup will also expand to 10 cities in West Africa (starting in Ghana and Ivory Coast) and add new vehicle classes—including watercraft and three-wheeled tuk tuk taxis.

And in what could be a first in Africa’s growing motorcycle ride-hail market, MAX will use its new funding for EV development. “We’re piloting electric motorcycles in partnership with EV manufacturers and working with grid operators across Nigeria to deploy

Continue reading “MAX.ng raises $7M round backed by Yamaha and pilots EVs in Nigeria”

Days after pledging to expand internet, Ethiopia’s govt shuts it off


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Days after Ethiopian ICT officials made public pledges to improve net access, the government began playing on-again, off-again with the internet—shutting it down (almost completely) to coincide with the country’s national exams.

Data provided to TechCrunch from Oracle’s Internet Intelligence confirmed intermittent net blackouts from June 11 to 14, with connectivity returning for brief periods during that time-span.

Sources on the ground, including in the country’s tech community, confirmed to TechCrunch internet stoppage over the period.

Mobile and IP connectivity in Ethiopia is managed by state owned Ethio Telecom, though the governmentled by newly elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde—has committed to break up the telecom and privatize it.

On the reason for the outage, the government of Ethiopia has not issued a statement and a government official in charge of ICT policy did not respond to a TechCrunch inquiry.

Press reports, and

Continue reading “Days after pledging to expand internet, Ethiopia’s govt shuts it off”

IBM brings its Quantum computer program to 16 African universities


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




IBM launched its Quantum computer program in Africa today, announcing a partnership with South Africa’s Wits University that will extend to 15 additional universities across 9 countries.

Quantum—or IBM Q, as the U.S. based company calls it—is a computer that uses quantum bits (or qubits) to top the capabilities of even the most advanced supercomputers.

When launched in early 2019, IBM said “Q systems are designed to one day tackle problems…seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.”  It named future IBM Q applications in financial data, minimizing global financial risk, and optimizing logistics.

On how Q works, “It’s not your usual one and zeros. It’s about the superposition of ones and zeros, to have three zeros, a one, two ones to create a qubit,” IBM Research Africa VP Solomon Assefa told TechCrunch on a call.

“Because of that, and that it

Continue reading “IBM brings its Quantum computer program to 16 African universities”

Norrsken opens East Africa startup fund and hub in Kigali


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Startups in East Africa have a new source for investment and mentorship.

Sweden’s Norrsken Foundation—a coworking space and investment fund based in Stockholmopened its tech fund and entrepreneurship hub in Rwanda today to support ventures across the region.

Norrsken’s Kigali center is located on the former École Belge campus and will begin with seed investments of $25K to $100K for early stage startups in all sectors starting this year, Norrsken CEO Erik Engellau-Nilsson told TechCrunch.

The fund size is still being determined and Norrsken Kigali will extend the fund to larger series-stage investments from $100K to $1 million in the future.

Norrsken’s Fredrika Wessman is the head of Africa expansion and the organization is in the process of hiring a local director for its new Kigali operation.

The Swedish foundation’s move into Rwanda is strongly connected to the organization’s focus on the power of tech entrepreneurs

Continue reading “Norrsken opens East Africa startup fund and hub in Kigali”

Supercross to debut first EV class and tap startups to go digital


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Motorcycle racing series Supercross will add e-motos and more digitization to its franchise (aided by startups) in the near future, according to Director of Operations David Prater.

The sport—where riders race high-performance machines on jump filled stadium dirt tracks—currently fields only gas two-wheelers.

This fall Supercross looks to launch its first EV class starting with the earliest of early adapters: seven to eight year-olds.

The series plans to convert its Junior Racing program, sponsored by manufacturer KTM, from gas to electric.

“They’ve been working on an electric 50cc equivalent motorcycle and their goal is to launch that in October,” Prater told TechCrunch. “We haven’t one-hundred percent-ed it yet, but it’s fairly close and we’re…going to race that electric KTM in October at the Monster Energy Cup. 

KTM North America would not comment on adding EVs to the junior Supercross class. The Austria based motorcycle manufacturer released its electric

Continue reading “Supercross to debut first EV class and tap startups to go digital”

Africa Roundup: Jumia’s post-IPO earnings, Gokada’s $5.3M raise, Facebook’s fake-news purge, Joe Montana’s fintech investment


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Jumia held its first post-IPO earnings call and weathered a short-sell assault in May, with Wall Street showing confidence in Pan-African e-commerce company.

On the numbers, key takeaways were that Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) — the total amount of goods sold over the period — grew by 58 percent to €240 million. Marketplace revenue grew 102 percent to €16 million, and gross profits as a percentage of GMV grew by 6.5 percent in Q1 2019.

Overall, Jumia’s operating losses for the period widened to €45.4 million from €34.3 and negative EBITDA increased to €39.5 million from €30.2.

So the startup’s still losing money — see the big losses reported in the IPO filing — but is improving its ability to earn.

CEO Sacha Poignonnec also shared a longer-term revenue strategy on Jumia’s Q1 earnings call. The startup plans to convert its JumiaPay and Jumia

Continue reading “Africa Roundup: Jumia’s post-IPO earnings, Gokada’s $5.3M raise, Facebook’s fake-news purge, Joe Montana’s fintech investment”

Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Jumia may be the first startup you’ve heard of from Africa. But the e-commerce venture that recently listed on the NYSE is definitely not the first or last word in African tech.

The continent has an expansive digital innovation scene, the components of which are intersecting rapidly across Africa’s 54 countries and 1.2 billion people.

When measured by monetary values, Africa’s tech ecosystem is tiny by Shenzen or Silicon Valley standards.

But when you look at volumes and year over year expansion in VC, startup formation, and tech hubs, it’s one of the fastest growing tech markets in the world. In 2017, the continent also saw the largest global increase in internet users—20 percent.

If you’re a VC or founder in London, Bangalore, or San Francisco, you’ll likely interact with some part of Africa’s tech landscape for the first time—or more—in the near future.

That’s why TechCrunch put

Continue reading “Diving deep into Africa’s blossoming tech scene”

DHL brings Africa eShop to 20 countries in a competitive nod to Jumia


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




DHL is expanding its DHL Africa eShop business to 9 additional markets, upping the presence of the global shipping company’s e-commerce platform to 20 African countries.

DHL went live with the digital retail app in April, bringing more than 200 U.S. and U.K. sellers — from Neiman Marcus to Carters — online to African consumers.

Africa eShop operates using startup MallforAfrica.com’s white label fulfillment service, Link Commerce. Payment methods include local fintech options, such as Nigeria’s Paga and Kenya’s M-Pesa.

DHL’s move to offer Africa eShop to 20 of the continent’s 54 countries comes a month after Africa’s most visible (and well funded) e-tailer, Jumia, went public. Jumia—which operates consumer retail and online service verticals in 14 African countries—raised over $200 million in an NYSE IPO.

There’s a competitive e-commerce scenario brewing between the two platforms. DHL Africa e-Shop touts itself as “Africa’s Largest Online Shopping Platform.

Continue reading “DHL brings Africa eShop to 20 countries in a competitive nod to Jumia”

Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M round for its motorcycle ride-hail biz


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In many large cities across Africa, motorcycle taxies are as common as yellow-cabs in New York.

That includes Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business.

Gokada has trained and on-boarded over 1000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and the company’s signature green, DOT approved helmets.

The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh—a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle, and car transportation company.

For Gokada’s Series A, Rise Capital led the investment joined by Adventure Capital, IC Global Partners, and Illinois based First MidWest Group. Coinciding with the round, Nigerian investor and Jobberman founder Ayodeji Adewunmi will join Gokada as co-CEO.

Gokada will use the financing to increase its fleet and ride

Continue reading “Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M round for its motorcycle ride-hail biz”

These startups are locating in SF and Africa to win in global fintech


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




To become a global fintech player, locate your company in San Francisco and Africa.

That’s the approach of payments company Flutterwave, digital lending startup Mines, and mobile-money venture Chipper Cash—Africa-founded ventures that maintain headquarters in San Francisco and operations in Africa to tap the best of both worlds in VC, developers, clients, and the frontier of digital finance.

This arrangement wasn’t exactly coordinated across the ventures, but TechCrunch coverage picked up the trend and some common motives among these rising fintech firms.

Founded in 2016 by Nigerians Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave has positioned itself as a global B2B payments solutions platform for companies in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad.

Clients can tap its APIs and work with Flutterwave developers to customize payments applications. Existing customers include Uber,  Booking.com and African e-commerce unicorn Jumia.com.

The Y-Combinator backed company is headquartered

Continue reading “These startups are locating in SF and Africa to win in global fintech”

Africa e-tailer Jumia issues post-IPO results amid short-sell assault


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For Pan-African e-commerce startup Jumia, going public has been an up and down affair.

The company filed SEC IPO docs in March and saw its share rise 70% after listing on the NYSE in April at $14.50. Then last week, Jumia’s stock tumbled when it came under assault from a short-seller accusing the company of fraud.

This occurred against the backdrop of a debate playing out across Africa’s tech ecosystem on Jumia’s legitimacy as an African startup and set the stage for the company’s first post-IPO earnings call on Monday.

The results

There’s a lot to unpack around Jumia and the first item out of the vault is its Q1 results.

Key takeaways were that Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV)—the total amount of goods sold over the period— grew by 58% to €240 million. Other highlights included marketplace revenue growth of 102% to €16 million, and gross profits

Continue reading “Africa e-tailer Jumia issues post-IPO results amid short-sell assault”

Chipper Cash convinces Joe Montana to invest in African fintech


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The African no-fee, cross-border payment startup Chipper Cash has raised a $2.4 million seed round led by Deciens Capital.

The payments company also persuaded 500 Startups and Liquid 2 Ventures—co-founded by Joe Montana—to join the round.

Chipper Cash’s Ugandan chief executive, Ham Serunjogi, pitched the U.S. football legend directly. “He was quite excited about what we’re doing and his belief that the next wave of [tech] growth will come from…Africa,” Serunjogi told TechCrunch.

Chipper Cash went live in October 2018, joining a growing field of fintech startups aiming to scale digital finance applications across Africa’s billion plus population.

The venture Serunjogi co-founded with Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled offers no-fee, P2P, cross-border mobile-money payments in Africa.

Based in San Francisco based startup—with offices in Ghana and Nairobi—Chipper Cash has processed 250,000 transactions for over 70,000 active users, according to Serunjogi.

In conjunction with the seed round, Chipper Cash is launching

Continue reading “Chipper Cash convinces Joe Montana to invest in African fintech”