Emmanuel Macron, the President of France gave $76 million funds for African startups. The president did that during the VivaTech 2018, and the French Development Agency (AFD) will be responsible for the distribution of the fund. According to Christine Ha, the AFD Digital Task Team Leader, the funding will be divided into three parts. She said that €10 million would for technical support to assist the African space, €5 million will be set aside for loans that will be free from interest for early-stage startups, and the last division €50 million will be meant for investments based on the equity in series A and C startups. The early age startups loans will be given out at the value of $100,000 early enough to give entrepreneurs a humble time to prototype, launch, and pilot. The technical assistance will be issued out in the form of grants to coding programs, incubators, hubs, and accelerators.
The €50 million will be given out using Proparco, a DFI co-owned by AFD. The institution will have limited partnership during its investment in VC funds. Interested African startups can apply for the €50 million by visiting any African office of Proparco. Both the technical assistance and €50 million will be availed at the beginning of 2019.
Kobo360, a Nigerian based logistic company joined the Y Combinator’s 2018 group. Through that, it received working capital worth $1.2 million in pre-seed financing. The funding round was led by Western Technology Investment. Kobo360 has an app that resembles an Uber that links Nigerian truckers to firms which are in need of freight. The startup is planning to use the funding to pay drivers through an online system of payment. Moreover, the company is also launching KoboWIN or Kobo Wealth Investment Network a crowd invests funding program.
Kobo drivers can use it to buy new trucks through citizen investors and make direct payments within 60 months. According to Kobo360’s CEO, Obi Ozor, the platform is offering drivers the technology and demand to grow their ventures. He added that a trucker is in a position to make averagely $3,500 monthly through the app. Since 2017, the startup has served 324 businesses with 5,480 drivers and delivered 37.6 kilograms of goods. It top customers include DHL, Unilever, Olam, and Honeywell. The company expects to expand its services into Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo soon.
In other development DHL and MallforAfrica unveiled MarketPlaceAfrica.com. This is a global e-commerce platform for African artisans to sell their products directly to buyers through any of 220 countries where DHL has its operations. The site will give priority to fashion products that are personal care, footwear, jewelry, bags, and clothing. It will also prioritize crafts like carvings and pictures. Currently, the platform is vetting MarketPlace Africa’s sellers online. It is also verifying locally made goods and the quality of merchandise using Africa Made Product Standards association (AMPS).
According to Chris Folayan the CEO of MallforAfrica, the platform is first launching in Nigeria which will then be followed by Kenya, Rwanda before pitching tents in the rest of the continent. Folayan added that the main goal is to give people a chance to purchase from African artisans through online markets. The platform currently has designed such as Tasha Goodwin’s Tash women’s outfits and Chinwe Ezenwa handbags.
Sokowatch, a B2B based e-commerce company from Kenya connects African open retail stores directly to multi-national and local suppliers. The suppliers are the likes of Gambe, Proctor and Unilever. The platform does that by digitizing payments, deliveries, and orders with the aim of minimizing cost and increasing profit margins. The company aims at helping the African informal retailers to revolutionize the supply chain market.
Moreover, Sokowatch secured a seed investment worth $2 million to close on its round of funding. The round of funding was led by 4DX Ventures who was joined by Outlierz Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Lynett Capital, and Village Global.
According to Daniel Yu, the founder and CEO of Sokowatch, the platform is becoming a link between the small shops and manufacturers. He added that this is different from previous years where there used to be many middlemen from wholesalers, sub-distributors to distributors. Yu said that the platform is helping to reduce the cost of supply by around 20% for shopkeepers. He added that Africa has many open stores that sell many consumer products annually. The stores can now use Sokowatch’s app on mobile phones to purchase goods directly from large suppliers, arrange for delivery and pay through online. Yu said that ordering through Android or SMS allows one to get free delivery within two hours.
Sokowatch gets it revenue from receiving a margin on the goods that are sold to shopkeepers. Suppliers on the other side benefit by increasing demand and receiving huge deals on the products supplied by the platform. To extend its working capital loans to its customers, Sokowatch recently unveiled line of credit products. With operations in Tanzania and Kenya, the platform hopes to use the loan to expand its operations to other East African markets.