Why Foreign Investments In Nigerian Startups Dropped By 65%
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2 Nigerian Startups Make Africa’s Top 5 Most Valuable Startup List

2 years ago
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As of January 2023, there are 1,428 unicorns – startups worth over $1 billion – in the world according to data obtained from Crunchbase.

Africa accounts for 0.4 per cent of the total global unicorns, with seven startups representing the continent, while the United States, China, and India house the highest number of unicorns, accounting for 711, 248, and 84 respectively.

The 1,428 unicorns have raised a total of $836 billion, but have a market worth of $4.9 trillion, which is determined by venture capitalists (VCs) valuing their current and projected future earnings. 

READ ALSO: Google Concludes Plans To Invest In 23 Nigerian Startups

Prime Business Africa gathered that the seven African unicorn startups; Flutterwave, Opay, Wave Mobile, Andela, Chipper Cash, Esusu Financial, and Interswitch, have raised $2.43 billion in the last seven years, and have a combined valuation of $12 billion. 

Four of the seven unicorn startups are co-founded by Nigerians, but five of the total unicorns in Africa have operational bases situated in Nigeria. 

Five most valuable startups in Africa

The list of the five most valuable startups operating in Africa was compiled by Prime Business Africa based on their market valuation and the total equity funding of each company.

  • Flutterwave

Flutterwave is a fintech company founded by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Olugbenga Agboola and Adeleke Adekoya in 2016, offering payment service in Nigeria, Ghana and eight other African markets. 

The startup has raised the second highest VC-funding, with $474 million total equity funding raised (in 11 rounds) from about 50 investors, with their latest funding obtained on Febuary 16, 2022, in a Series D round, led by Avenir Growth Capital and B Capital Group. 

Flutterwave has the highest market valuation of $3 billion. It also plays the role of an investor, having pumped $2.4 million into Cinetpay in December 2021, and also acquired Disha in November 2021. 

The firm’s app released in March 2021 has received 100,000 plus downloads 

  • Opay

Opay is a Nigerian-based payment company, but founded by Chinese billionaire, Yahui Zhou, in 2018. It recorded the fastest growth to unicorn status compared to its peers, recording over 10 million downloads on Google Play Store. 

In the last five years, Opay has raised $570 million from 14 investors which includes 3W Capital and Softbank Ventures Asia in three rounds, recording the highest total equity funding received by an African startup. 

Opay’s last funding round, a Series C round in August, 2021, was enough to raise the payment company’s market valuation to $2 billion, closing the gap on Flutterwave. 

  • Andela 

Andela is a US and Nigerian-based global talent network for engineering talent in emerging markets, who are connected to companies in need of their engineering skills. 

The firm has several founders, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jeremy Johnson, Nadayar Enegesi, Brice Steven Nkengsa, Christina Sass and Ian Carnevale. 

Andela rose into a unicorn status within nine years of its existence, having commenced operation in May 2014. It has the same market valuation of $2 billion as Opay, but Andela’s total equity funding is lower. 

It has a total VC-funding of $381 million drawn from 44 investors, including Generation Investment Management and Spark Capital, in nine rounds. Andela’s latest fundraising was a Series E round in September 2021. 

  • Wave Mobile

Wave is a mobile money platform that offers financial solutions to save, transfer, and borrow money. It was co-founded by Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk in February 2018. 

Both Durbin and Quirk have raised $301.5 million from 15 investors, with Finnfund and Lendable contributing to the last fundraising, Debt Financing round, held in July 2022. 

Wave is one of three African startups with market valuation around $2 billion. It has participated in three fundraising rounds. It has a record of 10 million plus downloads via Google Play Store. 

  • Chipper Cash 

Two African entrepreneurs, Ham Serunjogi from Uganda and Maijid Moujaled from Ghana, founded Chipper Cash in 2017 to enable free instant cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa. 

Chipper Cash’s growth has been aided by 25 investors who funded the company with $337.2 million in six years. Some of the investors include Alameda Research and Nevcaut Ventures. 

While its total equity funding is more than that of Wave, it is not enough to push Chipper Cash into the two-billion-dollars club. Chipper Cash has a market valuation of $1 billion.

The Chipper Cash app has been downloaded by over five million android users.

Side note: The other African startups in the billion-dollar club are Interswitch with a market valuation of $1 billion and total equity funding of $321 million, and Esusu Financial has $1 billion worth, with VC-funding of $145 million.


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