9 African start-ups picked for new Startup Wise Guys cohort

Leading European start-up accelerator Startup Wise Guys, also known as an active investment fund, has selected the second batch of participants for its €7.5 million fund (about $7.6 million) for African start-up investment. 

The programme – the first-ever African, B2B SaaS-focused accelerator – opened to applicants in October 2021, with the first batch of successful participants graduating in June 2022. The second round generated almost 500 applications. SWG selects and works with approximately 10 start-ups per batch, with plans to invest in 30 start-ups through 2023.

Selected start-ups are each eligible for €65,000 support for up to a 12% equity stake, as well as an intensive five-month accelerator program. They also have the chance to pitch for follow-on funding of up to €250,000. Start-ups were eligible to apply from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, with the first successful applicant from Tanzania in the new batch.

The nine start-ups selected to join batch two are driving innovation across fintech, proptech, data analytics and retailtech. Noticeable trends across the total range of applicants include:

  • Fintech and embedded finance solutions continue to boom. Access to finance for the informal market remains popular, as do neobanks.
  • Mobilitytech still needs a lot of digitalization with embedded financing components for operators heavily needed in the market.
  • Software for SMBs and e-commerce platforms is prominent. Applicants are looking to help SMBs manage their businesses and centralize communication in one platform from different messaging systems.

Despite a high media profile, meaningful support programs remain thin on the ground for very early-stage African start-ups, according to SWG, with mainstream funding still focused on scale-ups.

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In contrast, SWG is focusing in Africa on its central mission – start-ups still in the very early stages of business evolution with a B2B business model. Its strategy is to be start-ups’ “first believers” and also a catalyst for ecosystem development.

To date, SWG’s total investment in African start-ups, including follow-on investments, already exceeds €1.2 million. The accelerator has trained 102 start-ups from the continent in acceleration and pre-acceleration programs, benefiting an estimated 6,100 people. SWG is actively working with six start-ups from Nigeria, six from Kenya, two from Ghana, and one each from Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ivory Coast.

“Africa presents the most exciting potential for digitalization on the planet. About two-thirds of the predicted growth in global population between 2020 and 2050 will take place here”, said program managing director Eliud Mungai.

“Startup Wise Guys’ presence in Africa means we see the business opportunity from supporting start-ups, and we can also see the benefits for Africa. The portfolio start-ups in our Africa acceleration program will be leveraging digital technology to support the continent’s growing population with fintech, healthtech and retailtech, and catalyse sustainable business growth to provide jobs and prosperity.”

Startup Wise Guys’ investment in Africa is part of a larger initiative, years in the making. SWG has a long-term vision and strategy in which Africa plays a big role.

This stems in part from the experience of some of its managing partners, including global CEO Cristobal Alonso, who was a co-founder of MOBOfree, General Partner Franziska Kolk, who has built a Cleantech startup in Morocco, and General Partner Petra Wolkenstein, who has run investor readiness trainings on the continent.

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Other venture partners for the Africa programme include Chika Nwobi (Nigeria), Adia Sowho (Nigeria, MTN Nigeria CMO), and Ambassador Samuel Amanor (Ghana).

The selected start-ups for the second batch of SWG’s Africa fund are: Built Financial Technologies, Tunzaa Fintech, Hisa, DT2 Technologies, Sortika, Naivera, Bunce, Zemo Card, and Shipbubble.

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