10 SEPTEMBER, 2021
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
Good morning ☀️ ️
Facebook has unveiled its first smart glasses, a wearable tech that allows users to take videos or pictures, listen to music or even take calls.
Ray-Ban Stories – the product’s name – will also allow users to share their activities across Facebook through a companion app.
It’s all part of Facebook’s long-term plan to launch true augmented reality (AR) glasses.
In today’s edition:
Quick Fire 🔥
Prospa raises $3.6 million in pre-seed round
Ask an Investor: What SUNU Capital is doing to support African founders
TC Insights: Funding Tracker
QUICK FIRE 🔥 WITH FOLA OLATUNJI-DAVID
Fola Olatunji-David has a wealth of experience working in the African tech ecosystem. Formerly the Head of Startup Success and Services at Google, and the Head of the Accelerator at Ventures Platform, he enjoys helping African techpreneurs navigate their paths.
Fola, explain your job to a five-year-old
I support people who are just starting out in their business. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s my time. I also help connect them to smart people who can help them grow their businesses.
What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your life/career?
One thing I’ve figured out as I’ve grown in my career is that the relationships you’re building matters just as much as the impact you make on the job. When you start out your career, you have a lot of energy and you feel like you can take on the world but it’s important to build relationships as you do that.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received in your career?
It’s realizing that you’re not special, lol. Even if you’re smart and talented, if you don’t work hard, someone hardworking will eventually be better than you.
What [singular] achievement are you most proud of?
Definitely my family. They’re the best thing that has happened to me and I’m super proud of them.
Tell us something you love doing that you’re terrible at, and something you really don’t like but you’re great at.
Something I love doing and I’m terrible at is karaoke. You better believe that if I see a microphone, I’m singing if it’s Beyonce, TuFace, Boys 2 Men, Adele, P!nk, MI, or even Taylor Swift. I might be terrible at it but I will sing the song no matter what.
Something I hate doing but I’m great at is probably cooking. I’m a great cook but I don’t think I derive any joy in it anymore. I used to enjoy it when I was younger, but these days, the effort topples the reward.
What new ways of doing things will you keep from this past year?
I’m not a big fan of [completely] remote work. I’m a bit biased because I’ve always traveled for work so I enjoy in-person connections.
What I’ll be keeping is a reminder as much as remote work is great and opens up opportunities, it’s always great to have some in-person communication and that’s what I’ll take from last year.
PROSPA RAISES $3.8 MILLION IN PRE-SEED ROUND
Prospa is living up to its name.
The startup, which helps small businesses manage their banking and business on a single platform, has just raised $3.8 million in a pre-seed round led by Global Founders Capital and Liquid 2 Ventures, the largest ever recorded in sub-Saharan Africa.
A few months ago, Prospa graduated from Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 batch. The startup had gotten in for its ingenious solutions to a peculiar problem small businesses in Nigeria experience.
Understanding the problem
There are 41 million small and micro businesses in Nigeria and they contribute 84% of the total in the country, as well as 48% of the Gross Domestic Product.
For these small businesses, managing daily operations and keeping track of the finances can be strenuous and error-prone. Small businesses have small teams and this means that every aspect of the work can be time-consuming, considering that they can’t afford expensive digital tools or employing more staff.
Even with SMEs’ contribution to the Nigerian economy, there are hardly any banking functions to support them with their financial activities. While conventional banks play crucial roles by providing loans, savings, and advisory services, business owners, in addition to other operational functions, still have to figure out the financial management parts of their businesses.
This is where Prospa comes in.
Helping SMEs prosper
Prospa was founded in October 2019 by Frederik Obasi, Chioma Ugo, and Rodney Jackson-Cole to help small and micro businesses consolidate all the moving parts of their business management like inventory and invoicing, employee management; and banking into one single vehicle.
On Prospa, pre-registered businesses get instant access to opening and managing a business account and other business management features like a digital storefront, inventory management, and more.
With its business management tools, Prospa is helping tens of thousands of businesses, having managed over 150,000 product catalogues, and dispatched over 360,000 invoices.
It’s also helping non-registered businesses solve a particularly pesky problem: getting registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Read more in Prospa secures largest pre-seed investment in sub-Saharan Africa’s startup ecosystem.
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WHAT SUNU CAPITAL IS DOING TO SUPPORT AFRICAN FOUNDERS
“If we find somebody that we really love with a laptop and dream, we’ll write them a $50,000 check and stay relatively close to see what happens. Our sweet spot is a $100-$250K initial check with the potential to follow on up to $1M.”
Before becoming a venture capitalist, Benjamin Schmerler had a pretty interesting life.
He grew up in the United States and early on had a sense that he wanted to go and explore what lay beyond the endless skies he stared at each day.
So since Schmerler left home at the age of 18, he’s lived and worked in nearly every corner of the globe. He started out doing supply chain consulting for global corporations like Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Hershey throughout the Americas, East and West Africa, and Southeast Asia.
He’s worked for Root Capital, a firm that aims to transform rural communities by investing in agricultural enterprises, and working with Root helped him build foundations for his own venture capital fund, SUNU Capital.
Since its founding in 2017, SUNU has backed 22 startups across Africa including Autochek, Stitch, and Copia.
In the latest episode of Ask an Investor, Benjamin chats with Daniel Adeyemi to discuss the journey so far.
IMPROVING CYBERSECURITY IN MENA
KB4-CON EMEA is a free, highly engaging, cybersecurity-focused virtual event designed for CISOs, security awareness, and cybersecurity professionals in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The event will be on Thursday, September 23rd and features keynotes from two of the most well-known figures in cybersecurity. Mikko Hyppönen will cover how our global networks are being threatened by surveillance and crime, and how we can fix our technical, and human, problems. Kevin Mitnick will reveal social engineering tradecraft and insights and wow you with a live hacking demonstration. You can register here.
TC INSIGHTS: FUNDING TRACKER
This week, Francophone Africa produced its first unicorn as Senegalese fintech, Wave raised $200m in a Series A round to reach a valuation of $1.7 billion. The round was led by payments giant Stripe; Sequoia Heritage, Founders Fund, Ribbit Capital, and other investors.
Here are the other deals for the week:
Cairo-based fintech startup, MNT-Halan raised $120m from Apis Growth Fund II, Development Partners International (DPI), Lorax Capital Partners, Middle East Venture Partners, Endeavor Catalyst, and Disruptech.
Kenyan fintech startup Pezesha, secured a 7-figure seed extension round from GreenHouse Capital, with on-lending liquidity support from Venture Garden Group.
Prospa, a fintech company in Nigeria, raised a $3.8m pre-seed round from Global Founders Capital and Liquid 2 Ventures. Immad Akhund of Mercury, Karim Atiyeh of Ramp, and executives from Teachable, Square, Facebook & Nubank also participated in the round.
Agricorp International raised $17.5m in pre-series A funding led by Vami Farms with support from One Capital.
Kenyan-based energy leasing company Solarise Africa secured $5.9m in debt financing from Swedish impact investment platform Trine.
That’s all we’ve got this week!
Follow TC Insights on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more updates on funding deals.
LISTEN & LEARN WITH STANFORD
Meet intrepid entrepreneurs from Africa and South Asia, hear their stories, and learn from Stanford University faculty how to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities. Listen to Grit & Growth wherever you get your podcasts.
Share your answer with us on Twitter and Instagram, or send a reply to [email protected]
We’ll publish the most interesting answers on Monday.
Every week, we share job opportunities in the African ecosystem.
Wave – Director of Engineering, Senior Software Engineer, Software Engineer, Head of Business Development, Visual Designer, Head of Talent, Global Compensation Specialist – Remote
Kuda – Product Designer – Lagos, Nigeria
USAID – Financial Analysts – Nairobi, Kenya – Deadline: September 14
Pollicy – Research Assistant – Uganda – Deadline: September 22
There are more opportunities here. If you’d like to share a job opening or an opportunity, please fill this form.
BANK BETTER WITH VBANK
Vbank is making digital banking easier and sleeker. With its latest upgrade, you can now receive or send money without a bank account. You also get free transfers, target savings, and personalized customer service at the touch of a button.
Learn more about what you can get on the Vbank app here.
What else we’re reading
Here’s why Nigeria’s vehicle financing culture is struggling to take flight.
MTN is partnering with Flutterwave to allow businesses integrating Flutterwave in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia to receive payments via MTN MoMo.
Double testing for COVID-19 is driving up travel expenses across West Africa.
In the past four years, Zikoko has grown from a Buzzfeed clone to one of Nigeria’s most important cultural publications. Here’s how they’re tapping into youth culture to build a media business.
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