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Looking Back At Africa’s 2021 Startups Scene

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The performance of Africa’s startups in 2021 beat all previously recorded highs. Before 2021 a single unicorn would have been amazingly successful. In 2021, Africa had five unicorns and venture capital raised more than $4 billion overall. More than in 2019 and 2020 combined. 2021 was the year when Africa launched itself into the global startup arena, and it’s now a major player.

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Five Major Players in 2021

Flutterwave

Flutterwave is an African-based Fintech startup. Founded in 2016, it achieved its Unicorn status after five in business. They offer an incredibly useful service. Flutterwave’s software API can create and manage their own digital credit cards. Flutterwave has revolutionized payments for merchants all over the globe. It’s incredibly popular all across Africa.

Digital cards are but one perk of Flutterwave. The company has solutions for many fintech issues. They offer a checkout system that is easily integrated into any web or mobile application. Flutterwave can help businesses set up their own digital store, as well as many other tools a business can use.

In 2021, Flutterwave raised $170 million during a series C funding round. At the time, that was the highest amount ever raised by an African startup company.  Flutterwave’s current valuation is over $1 billion. A pioneer among African unicorns. There were only 2 African unicorns in history before that, one in 2016 and another in 2019.

While a giant company like Flutterwave can guarantee a safe and secure experience on their software and website. Their software can’t do anything about your network or device being safe. The person behind the screen is the only one who can make sure that is the case.

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Opay

Opay is another Fintech startup and not the last on this list. This speaks loudest about how important Fintech is to our modern world. Africa’s most successful startups to date overwhelmingly Fintech firms.

Opay is all about convenience and making life easier. With Opay, you can make any kind of payment all across Africa. This is not just limited to payments to private entities. Many governments and utilities in Africa accept payments through Opay. Now anyone can pay for that using their simple mobile app. Utility bills, bank transfers, direct transfers to friends and family are all part of this system.

If any payment needs to be transferred securely and fast, Opay is the choice in Africa. It’s a great solution for the emerging mobile casino industry in Africa. Making deposits and withdrawals has never been easier. Their motto is stress-free payments, and we could all use less stress in 2022. Opay is sitting at a valuation over $2 billion. That number alone proves how useful the service really is.

Wave

Wave African-based Fintech startup

Wave is the ultimate solution for business bookkeeping needs. It’s an accounting software that takes care of it all for the user and their business. With Wave, business owners can analyze and manage all their revenue and expenses. Wave tracks every single detail automatically. Users can connect additional features such as payroll, payments, and invoicing. It’s all neatly packed together.

The basic features are completely free. How can it be so? Wave makes money only through optional add-ons such as a payroll system, online-payment integration. Wave claims that everything a company needs to run a business. They are a true innovation in Fintech, one that will allow hundreds of businesses to grow and focus on their expertise. It simplifies the finances of a small business.

Wave was evaluated at $1.7 billion back in September 2021, making it the fifth Fintech African Unicorn.

Chipper Cash

The last Fintech startup on this list is Chipper Cash. A company valuated at $2 billion dollars in November 2021. Chipper Cash is the digital Western Union of Africa. They offer low rates for transactions and instantaneous transfers. The app has more than 4 million users, and 80,000 payments made daily.

You can move money across your town, country, or overseas. It’s now the preferred way for many Africans to send and receive money. The transfer rate is free, and if you want to send across borders, the fees are still breaking all lows. “As Fast As Sending A Text” is the company’s motto.

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Andela

The only non-Fintech startup on the list is Andela. Since Fintech has been so prominent in the African startup scene, Andela’s rise has been unique. The firm raised almost $200 million in September 2021 through a Series E round. They are utilizing the funds to build remote engineering teams. This should provide them with flexibility on a global scale. It’s also helping to overcome the global shortage of skilled software developers. By identifying and building talent themselves Andela is attempting to stay ahead of the curve..

Final Thoughts

The entrepreneurial qualities of these incredible businesses are indisputable. Each set of founders took enormous risks to start these firms. For most the past 5-10 years were a daily struggle for their dream. In that time they have built startups that are going to change the world. Their innovative ideas are changing how business is performed all over the world. We have no doubt that Africa is going to continue to accelerate in the startup scene. The current momentum is a sign of things to come.

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