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Startups funding hits $7b as experts review top players 

As a result, the startup ecosystem is projected to reach its highest funding of $7 billion in 2022 as founders and innovators look for more ways to solve the continent's challenges.

The Global Innovation Index saw Africa climb up the global tech ladder to join the rest of the world in running an economy driven by innovation.

Backed by a young, tech-enthusiastic population, the continent recorded its largest smartphone shipment, as 5G smartphone sales surpassed 4G ones for the first time.

In the last five years, young entrepreneurs and business leaders have realised the urgency of creating solutions around cloud computing uptake, blockchain development, and artificial intelligence.

As a result, the startup ecosystem is projected to reach its highest funding of $7 billion in 2022 as founders and innovators look for more ways to solve the continent’s challenges.

Increased access and connectivity will allow Africans to innovate, collaborate and create technological solutions for current problems.

In 2023, here are the five innovators to watch include Gregory Rockson, Co-founder and CEO of mPharma, Africa’s largest pharmacy-led primary care provider.

Recently named one of the 100 most pioneering technology startups globally by the World Economic Forum, mPharma currently serves over 400,000 patients in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Gabon.

Since its seed round in 2015, mPharma has raised over $40 million. In 2019, the company acquired Kenya’s second-largest pharmacy chain, Haltons. In September 2022, the company acquired the majority stake at HealthPlus, one of Nigeria’s leading pharmacy chains. According to Crunchbase, the startup is funded by 28 investors and has raised $89.8 million in funding over 14 rounds (the latest funding was raised on Jan 5, 2022, from a Series D round).

Since the pandemic, the company has leveraged its partnership with several partners to deploy free COVID-19 tests and millions of COVID-19 test kits across government institutions, private labs, and organisations in eight African countries. Rockson believes working with a DFI with extensive government contacts across Africa would improve its appeal and help strengthen its corporate governance.

Gregory Rockson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Westminster College. A World Economic Forum Global Shaper, he was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow (PPIA) from Princeton University and a Rotary Scholar at the University of Copenhagen.

Oyewale Oyepeju is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Vendease Africa, a marketplace that lets African restaurants order directly from farms and food manufacturers. It allows food service business owners and managers to digitise, track, and automate their procurement and inventory management processes. It also provides businesses with analytics to improve profitability and eliminate waste.

A serial entrepreneur, innovator and IBM business partner who has delivered incredible technologies for global companies such as Sony Pictures & Entertainment and MTN, Wale Oyepeju has been critical to Vendease’s transformation from a procurement marketplace to a full-fledged data company. Founded in 2020, Vendease has raised a total of $43.3M in funding over four rounds, with the latest financing raised on Sep 26, 2022, from a Series A round, and has an estimated annual revenue of $19.2 million.

In a time when governments, private institutions, and agricultural experts are concerned about food security in Africa and creating and implementing new policies to address waste, Vendease’s technology innovation and current expansion strategy will be decisive by bringing transparency, convenience and financing into the food business value chain, and massively improving efficiency and business sustainability.

Wale possesses more than a decade of experience developing innovative enterprise solutions for businesses in the Telecoms, Oil and Gas, Banking and Finance, Media and Entertainment industries. He holds an MBA from Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom, a bachelor’s degree from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, and is an IBM Certified Administrator.

Onyekachi Izukanne, Co-founder & CEO of TradeDepot

Experts describe Onyekachi’s TradeDepot as the engine of retail distribution in Africa. But prior to that, he co-founded C2G Consulting, a technology consulting practice that has grown to become a leading SAP Partner in West Africa. In 2016, Onyekachi launched TradeDepot, a distribution and retail aggregator with a mission to consolidate Nigeria’s fragmented informal retail supply chain by connecting the world’s top consumer goods manufacturers to retailers in Africa.

In 2021, the company raised $110 million in an equity and debt funding round to support the delivery of Buy-Now-Pay-Later services to five million SME retailers and drive further expansion of its merchant platform across the continent. Over the past five years, the company has raised over $123 million over four rounds with IFC, Novastar, and CDC Group as its lead investors.

In the thick of the pandemic, TradeDepot’s core business has been building supply chains with technology and connecting merchants one after the other. The company now offers a full range of products to launch digital wallets and financial services, especially credit products or BNPL. This financing model, coupled with technology to support logistics operations, has led to a 200 per cent increase in transaction volumes for retail store owners.

Ahmad Wadi is the founder and CEO of MoneyFellows, one of the leading Egyptian fintech platforms in North Africa and the Middle East. He caught the attention of market giants such as Microsoft and Daimler when he first established his first project, an object-tracking software, and worked on several projects for both brands.

Founded in late 2016, MoneyFellows is digitising the concept of money circles (ROSCAs), commonly known as gam’eya, in Egypt and other Arab countries. It is the first to offer next-generation digital RoSCAs globally, where users can effectively manage and plan their financial obligations and achieve their financial goals through the platform. With hundreds of thousands of monthly active users and a solid 8x YoY growth, the company has become one of the favourite financial apps for Egyptians.

MoneyFellows offers the association model in its well-known form but with digital tools through a smartphone application, and the company has managed to attract about 4 million customers so far. It taps into a less technologically-literate sector of society that is either unbanked or underbanked.

So the usability of the MoneyFellows app is absolutely core to its success. The app currently counts over 150,000 active users since its launch and has since added over 200 corporate partners who offer salary deduction pay-in processes for their employees to join money circles through the app seamlessly.

Yanmo Omoregbe, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer at Bamboo

Before the cryptocurrency craze among young millennials and Gen Z in Nigeria, there was Bamboo – the app that has massively changed the approach to investment among millions of Nigerians and made it possible for an average African to become shareholders in global companies. The number of users on the platform has more than doubled from around 200,000 in 2021 to almost 500,000 in 2022.

Founded in 2020 by Yanmo Omorogbe and Richmond Bassey, Bamboo’s estimated annual revenue is currently pegged at $7.4 million. The company partners with DriveWealth LLC, a pioneer in global digital trading technology based in the United States; Lambeth Capital, a Nigerian stockbroking firm officially registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); and Flutterwave, one of Africa’s leading payment systems, to ensure the safety of the capital of investors using the platform.

The startup raised $15 million in January 2022 and another $17.4 million in March 2022 and experienced an employment growth rate of 68 per cent. In September, the startup announced its official launch in Ghana. Yanmo Omoregbe graduated from the Imperial College of London and studied Chemical Engineering.

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