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Fastest Growing Companies in Africa 2021 (Most Innovative Startups)

fastest growing startups in Africa 2021

Fastest growing companies in Africa: As Walter Rodney wrote, and as has been for some time before the nascent advancement of industrial activity in Africa, ‘the principal industry of many underdeveloped countries is administration’ (i.e. the government). Africa countries in their quest to attain the proud status of a developed country have been arguably, over recent years, the object under the microscope of financial and economic analysis.

This is made evident by the amassing of USD 1.19 billion investment by African start-ups this year 2021; a 69 percent increase of the amount raised in 2020, suggesting, and with the year still running, that there is good reason to believe it could double the USD 701 million raised last year. Terrific! —  that should scream development and raise a sense of optimism for the developing continent.

Relationship between companies, Industries And the Economy

It is basic knowledge that a society develops economically as its members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment, and this capacity is dependent on the extent to which they understand science, utilize science through technology and organise work. Thus, industries are essential and accordingly the successes of companies found in these industries play a crucial in the economy.

A company is an association of persons, having a distinctive name incorporated by law and a common seal, formed for the business of profit; the members contribute money or money’s worth to be employed for some common purpose. An industry, on the other hand, can be referred to as a group of companies, related based on their primary activities in business. In macroeconomics, it is seen as a branch of an economy responsible for the production of a closely related set of goods/ raw materials or services.

In modern economies, industry classifications is a long list. Further, there is a bigger classification of Industry into sectors. Industries which African companies mostly venture into include Technology Industry (with Fintech as the whale of the Ocean), Food Industry, Healthcare Industry, Education Industry, Agriculture Industry, Telecommunication Industry, Transport Industry and Banking/ Credit facilities Industry, Logistics Industry, Sales/ Retail Industries etc.  African entrepreneurs have remained shy in the sectors of Aerospace and Computer.

Delineation of a Fast-Growing Company

When we say a company is fast-growing, we mean it is flourishing, it is fast-expanding or it is booming such that development is on a high with the capacity to dominate and champion the industry it belongs.

In Africa, a plethora of big-shot companies exist ranging from MTN, Bidvest, SPAR Group, Shoprite et cetera. Nevertheless, the purpose of this article is not to focus on these already established business giants but to bring into the spotlight the auspicious advances of the industrial prodigies in Africa and show why they are the bright future as they shimmer a lot of expectation.

In ranking the growth of African companies, a great deal of attention will be paid to the strength of the company in fundraising as well as the metric of innovation, as I believe this supersedes any other factor other than management in the success of a company. The Customer/Client satisfaction, Market Outreach (i.e., the distribution of goods/ service) will also be important factors used to assess the growth of the companies.

Due to the bigger attention paid to Fintech companies, it is difficult to form a list of growing companies which isn’t exhausted in half or more by companies in the Fintech industry. Thus, to have a more balanced list which incorporates effort made in other sectors of the African Industry, innovation and capacity of the business to dominate that industry is appraised leading to the reduction of other Fintech companies, who from the large amounts of fund raised would otherwise have made this list.

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Top Ten African Fast-growing companies

1. Flutterwave: Flutterwave was launched in 2016 by CEO Olugbenga Agboola, with offices in Lagos and San Francisco. It is claimed that more than 290,000 businesses use its platform to carry out payments. Data traffic on its website is evident and active in 11 African countries. It has raised a total of USD 234.7 million with more than 40 investors. It boasts about 250 currencies as payment options and has workforce of 251- 300 employees.

Fastest growing company in Africa

Fastest growing company in Africa

Flutterwave billion-dollar valuation represent a landmark achievement for Africa, with an estimated annual revenue of USD 51 million. Its spot as number one in this list accounts for the absence of Chipper Cash, also Flutterwave edges in innovation by incorporating payments with money transfers into their services, something Chipper Cash is yet to catch up on, no pun intended.

Metric Ranking: A

Funding: A+, Innovation: B, Customer satisfaction: B+, Market Outreach- A+.

2. GroIntelligence: Agriculture should be one of, if not, the most focused industrial sector in Africa. Boasting more than half of the world’s unused arable land and a large and ever-ready workforce, it remains puzzling that less than 5% of prominent commercial banks’ loans go to the sector of agriculture.

biggest tech companies in Africa

biggest tech companies in Africa

Sara Menker, founder of Gro Intelligence offers a remedy by providing a software platform which gives crucial data for food and agriculture. Launched in 2014, the company provides a platform which aggregates and model complex data to marry the interrelationship between food, climate, trade and agriculture. The company has raised 115.3 million U.S dollars with 10 investors to be credited. It has amassed a revenue of USD 9 million since the beginning of 2021.

Metric Rating: A

Funding: A+, Innovation: B+, Customer Satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: B+

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3. Andela: The Nigerian company founded in 2014 is a company which provides engineering services that help other companies build remote teams, i.e. it connects talents in emerging markets with company easily. It has a total funding account of USD 381 million with over 50 investors and over 150 contracts.

Its estimated annual revenue is closing in on USD 200 million per year. Andela has more than a thousand software engineers working full-time and across Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Uganda and Rwanda.

Metric Ranking: B+

Funding: A+, Innovation: B, Customer Satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: B+.

4. 54gene: Launched in 2019, the company has raised USD 44 million with 19 investors. The Chief Operating Officer of 54gene, Delali Attipoe manages the company’s business. The business has operations in Nigeria, other countries in Africa and the United States.

fastest growing tech company in Africa

fastest growing tech company in Africa

54gene is more than a biobank, it is an innovative health technology company that generates data to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges, one being variations in DNA which require research. 54gene provide professional customer support services and has the capacity dominate the health tech industry. It’s estimated annual revenue is USD 32.4 million

Metric Rating: B+

Funding: A, Innovation: B+, Customer Satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: A.

5. Smile Identity: Mark Straub founded Smile Industry in 2017 with William Bares. It is now present across six markets in Africa namely; Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

fastest growing startups in Africa 2021

fastest growing startups in Africa 2021

It has raised USD 11.1 million with 13 investors. Identity verification and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) are some of the features or compliance tools which Smile Identify provides for African companies. Its large clientele includes payment companies like Chipper Cash, Kuda, Binance, Luno et cetera.

Metric Ranking: B+

Funding: A, Innovation: B+, Customer Satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: A.

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6. Opay: Opay is a company in Lagos, Nigeria founded in 2018. It has raised a whopping USD 570 million since its inception boasting 14 investors and over 70 contracts. It has workforce of 251-500 employees and a wide range of innovative services. Opay has more than 8 million active users and can only grow from this point as a fintech giant in Africa. It’s innovation is found in its diversification following the launching of OKash, ORide, OWealth, OBus and other vertical extension.

Top Ten African Fast-growing companies this year

Top Ten African Fast-growing companies this year

It has a higher annual revenue than Flutterwave, with USD 5 million worth of transactions daily yet there is room for skepticism on Opay’s growth following the intricate partnerships, acquisitions and huge costs found in their cash flow statement. Finally, Opay’s market is still majorly in Nigeria, it needs to find means to expand to other African countries and possibly globally.

Metric Ranking: B+

Funding: A+, Innovation: B, Customer Satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: C.

7. Expensya: An expense management software that is geared towards all companies and businesses. Launched in 2014, it has raised USD 25.6 million and has an employee range of 101-200 employees. Expensya is an accounting Software as a service (SaaS) company that spares businesses a great deal of trouble and cost by easy and efficient expenses management.

It has an estimated annual revenue of USD 20.3 million. Expensya innovation has the capacity to help say goodbye to manual accounting and invoice processing as well as entry errors on expenses following their creative utilisation of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Metric Ranking: B+

Funding: A, Innovation: B+, Customer Satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: C.

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8. Vybe: Founded in 2019 by Nigerian software engineers, and aimed at connecting people online for the purpose and incidences of dating. Vybe has the potential to dominate the Africa’s business space since it engages in an industry which has no market leaders and virtually no competition. Vybe hit about 1,000 users within 48 hours and now has up to 10k downloads over 65 countries.

It has an innovative offline matchmaking service and an estimated annual revenue of USD 22.4 million. However, fundraising has been nothing to jot down and this pose the most important challenge thus far.

Metric Ranking: B+

Funding: C, Innovation: A, Customer satisfaction: B+, Market Outreach: A

9. Sokowatch: A Kenyan retail-distribution company founded in 2013. Sokowatch has raised USD 18.6 million with more than 20 investors and over 36 contracts. By enabling informal retailers to order, at anytime, products via their mobile app or simply SMS, and receive delivery free and timely to their store; customers satisfaction is addressed astutely.

Sokowatch can become a retail-distribution household name if it can penetrate key African markets like Nigeria and South Africa; having expanded in parent location, Kenya, and expanding into Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. The company generates an estimated annual revenue of USD 3 million.

Metric Ranking: B

Funding: A, Innovation: B, Customer satisfaction: B, Market Outreach: C.

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10. Onboard: Onboard is a Tunisian customer experience management company founded in 2019 which aids manufacturing companies transform their textual manuals to 3D. it has an overall funding of USD 240k.

Metric Ranking: B

Funding: B, Innovation: A, Customer satisfaction: B+, Market Outreach: C.

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