African tech startups received a total amount of funding in excess of $185.78 million in 2015, according to data compiled by Disrupt Africa. – Disrupt Africa
In January 2016, many experts predicted a slowdown in the level of startup funding around the world. Indeed, a drop-off in startup funding did occur, with the first quarter of 2016 finishing 25 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2015.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, African tech-based startups bucked this trend with investors seeking to back promising young companies throughout the continent. Of all startup sectors, tech companies is helping lead the charge. Five technology startups in particular are creating a not-so subtle buzz—and attracting potential investors in the process.
Here are five of the most promising tech startups in Africa:
DabaDoc is a Morocco-based company that was established by two siblings. The company’s website allows users to easily search for a local doctor or dentist and book an appointment online for free. One of DabaDoc’s missions is to improve access to health care in Africa.
The company quickly expanded to Algeria and Tunisia, with operations beginning four months after startup. The result was a listing of doctors in 72 specialties across 50 cities. DabaDoc is now the largest medical appointment booking platform on the African continent.
To date, the company has received several recognitions, including a handful from prominent industrialists in Silicon Valley. The company recently expanded to Nigeria, South Africa, and Pakistan, and expects to roll out in other countries as well.
South African startup Giraffe is a recruiting platform with a focus on low- and medium-skilled positions, such as waiters, cashiers, call center workers, drivers, receptionists, and retail supervisors. Launched in February 2015, the site signed up over 70,000 users in just 10 months.
Job hunters and employers can sign up for the service via SMS or through the website. Job seekers create an account, then answer a series of simple questions that produce a finished, customized resume at no cost. Employers log into the system and submit a short form, specifying their staffing needs. Giraffe utilizes an algorithm to match the request with appropriate job seekers, who are notified via text. According to its own estimates, the company is able to match employers with qualified workers 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper than traditional recruiting methods, as it is able to provide job candidates for a position in less than 48 hours. Giraffe also performs background, criminal, and reference checks to verify candidates’ qualifications.
The company has won numerous awards for innovation and plans on expanding operations into nearby countries.
Founded in Egypt, Yaoota is a shopping search engine that enables users to compare prices on hundreds of thousands of products across a variety of retailers. Shoppers can find the best prices on electronics, apparel, furniture, toys, sports equipment, books, jewelry, and much more.
Originally self-funded, Yaoota attracted investors’ attention through its simple interface, which is aesthetically similar to Google’s search engine. Yaoota only provides search results from qualified online stores that meet minimum standards, and most retailers accept cash on delivery for payment. The company primarily serves shoppers in Egypt, but has expanded outside Africa to the United Arab Emirates as well.
One of Africa’s most successful startups, M-KOPA Solar received two rounds of funding totaling $31.45 million in 2015. The company is using this money to expand its already-impressive line of home solar energy systems, which have powered hundreds of thousands of homes throughout Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The company estimates that in Uganda alone, there are still 5.5 million homes that aren’t connected to the power grid; most of these very low-income households still rely on kerosene for lighting. M-KOPA is tapping into this market by offering an affordable mobile installment payment plan.
M-KOPA’s growth has been steady. The company was founded in 2011 and has since amassed 757 full-time staff along with 1,251 contracted field agents. The company was awarded the New Energy Pioneer Award by Bloomberg for its “patented technology platform that combines embedded GSM and mobile payments” and its emphasis on developing markets.
Based in Nigeria, Paga has worked to improve the accessibility of banking services for a wide demographic of Africans. The company offers a mobile banking platform that operates via SMS, making the application available to mobile users on any network. The company’s primary focus is its money transfer service. Additional services offered by Paga include purchase and transfer of air time credits, retail and bill payments, and small business payment collection services.
Having recently secured a round of series B funding totaling $13 million, the company is planning to further develop its payment offerings for small businesses while continuing to expand its staff. Paga has also continued to expand upon it SMS banking platform, adding transactional capabilities via a website, mobile application, GSM, and interactive voice technology.