Top 10 Unicorns in Africa 2024 

Top 10 Unicorns in Africa 2024 

Unicorns in Africa

In private equity, a unicorn is a private company valued at over $1 billion (one billion US dollars). It’s an incredible milestone that many companies can only dream of achieving, and just seven years ago, none of the 54 African countries could claim to have a unicorn company. Today, we have 10 unicorns in Africa and counting.

However, Africa has seen a surge in innovation and entrepreneurship in recent years. Which has resulted in several venture capital investments and tech startups rising to unicorn status. From fintech firms offering convenient payment solutions to e-commerce platforms revolutionizing online shopping in Africa, in this article, we will delve into the top 10 unicorns in Africa, highlighting their remarkable contributions to the ever-growing industry on the continent.

Top 10 Unicorns in Africa

Unicorns in Africa
S/NCompanyYear Est.1st Country of OperationYear first valued at $1BN 
Interswitch  2002 Nigeria 2019 
Wave 2016 Ghana 2021 
Flutterwave 2016 Nigeria 2021 
Opay 2018 Nigeria 2021 
Chipper cash 2018 Nigeria 2021 
MNT- Halan 2018 Egypt 2023 
Esusu 2018 United States 2022 
Fawry  2009 Egypt 2020 
Andela 2014 Nigeria 2021 
10 Jumia 2012 Nigeria 2016 

Interswitch

Interswitch

Interswitch is a Nigerian payment technology company that digitized Nigeria’s economy and provides services like card processing, mobile payments, and Internet banking. It plays a vital role in Nigeria’s online banking system and offers Verve payment cards and Quickteller payment apps.

Interswitch is also Africa’s first fintech unicorn, founded by Mitchell Elegbe in 2002. It gained unicorn status in 2019 after Visa invested $200 million for a 20% stake.

Wave

Wave

Wave is a Ghanaian fintech company founded in 2016. It provides business software solutions, including invoicing and accounting, primarily for small businesses in Africa. Wave’s user-friendly software automates financial tasks like invoicing and payment processing, helping small businesses save time and money. It has expanded its services to other African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

In a short time, Wave became a dominant player in mobile money services, especially in Senegal, where it outperformed Orange Money. In a groundbreaking Series A funding round, Wave raised $200 million, making it Africa’s largest Series A, the largest round by a Francophone startup, and Africa’s first francophone unicorn. It’s been said that Wave plans to expand further into markets like Uganda and Mali. 

Flutterwave

Flutterwave

Flutterwave, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Lagos with a second base in San Francisco, is a fintech company that specializes in payment technology solutions for businesses, offering online and mobile payment options. It has expanded to serve multiple African countries, including Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana. 

Over the years, Flutterwave secured significant investments, starting with a $20 million Series A round in 2018 and followed by a $35 million Series B funding in 2019. In March 2021, it achieved unicorn status, with a valuation surpassing $1 billion, after raising $170 million in a Series C round led by Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital. 

Flutterwave’s payment technology aims to simplify payment acceptance for businesses, supporting various local and international payment methods and integrating with popular e-commerce platforms. It has played a vital role in facilitating international payments for companies like Facebook and Uber. 

Opay

Opay

In 2021, OPay achieved unicorn status by raising an impressive $400 million in a funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund 2. OPay offers a diverse range of services, including mobile payments, food delivery, and ride-hailing. It has rapidly gained popularity in Africa since its founding in 2018.

This substantial funding round, the largest ever for an African-focused fintech company, valued OPay at over $2 billion. It marks a significant milestone for the company and positions it as a major player in the African fintech landscape.  

Fawry

Fawry

Fawry is an Egyptian fintech company that offers electronic payment solutions. Founded in 2011, it has grown to become one of the largest payment technology firms in the Middle East and Africa. Fawry’s services include mobile payments, bill payments, and online payments, making it convenient for users to manage their finances.

What’s remarkable is that Fawry recently achieved unicorn status, becoming the first Egyptian company to reach a market cap of $1 billion. This milestone is particularly impressive considering its regional expansion and the growth in demand for fintech services during the pandemic. 

Fawry went public on the Egyptian Exchange in 2019, and it currently serves over 250 electronic payment services through its extensive network across Egypt and has even started expanding to the UAE. 

ChipperCash

ChipperCash

Launched in 2018, Chipper Cash is a cross-border peer-to-peer money transfer platform that offers a wide range of financial services. Operating across seven African countries, including Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya, it allows users to send money to one another without fees. Chipper Cash has expanded its offerings to include bill payments, airtime top-ups, virtual cards, stock market investing, crypto trading, and more.

Known as the “PayPal of Africa,” Chipper Cash has rapidly grown and even partnered with Twitter for the unique role of handling tips on the platform. It has become the biggest African startup and recently launched in the US, tapping into a significant market opportunity. With its continued expansion and diversification of services, Chipper Cash is poised for further growth and global reach. 

MNT- Halan 

MNT- Halan

MNT-Halan, an Egyptian fintech and e-commerce company, secured $400 million in funding, a remarkable achievement given the challenging VC funding landscape in 2023. This funding includes $260 million in equity financing and $140 million in debt funding from two securitized bond issuances completed within the past year. This substantial investment has propelled MNT-Halan to a valuation of approximately $1 billion. 

A significant portion of this funding, around $200 million, came from Chimera Investments based in Abu Dhabi, in exchange for a 20% equity stake in the Egyptian digital lender and e-commerce platform.  

MNT-Halan’s success can be attributed to its advanced technology, which allows it to provide financial services to thousands of previously underserved customers in Egypt. The company has also been actively disbursing loans, totalling over $65 million in the past month, while maintaining a strong non-performing loan ratio. 

Andela

Andela

Andela is a company that trains and employs software developers from Africa. They connect these developers with businesses worldwide.  

Andela started with a mission to address the shortage of software developers in Africa by providing rigorous training. Once trained, these developers work for Andela and are matched with businesses that need their skills. This not only helps businesses access top talent but also contributes to the growth of Africa’s tech sector.  

Andela recently achieved unicorn status by raising $200 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Group. 

Esusu

Esusu Africa

Esusu is a US-based fintech company that offers group savings and loan services to African communities. It has expanded its services to African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.

Esusu’s approach involves group savings, where members contribute a fixed amount each week to a shared pool. Members can then borrow from this pool when needed, with an agreement to repay the loan with interest. This model is popular among African communities, as it provides access to affordable credit and helps build financial literacy and discipline.

Esusu recently achieved unicorn status, with a valuation of $1 billion, following a Series B funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. This makes Esusu one of the few black-owned unicorns in the United States and globally. The company’s mission is to assist immigrant and minority groups in building credit through rent reporting and data solutions.

Jumia 

Jumia

Jumia was Africa’s first tech startup to reach unicorn status with a valuation of $1 billion in 2016. It operates as an e-commerce platform across multiple African countries, offering a wide range of products and reliable delivery services.

In 2019, Jumia made history by becoming the first African tech startup to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with a $1 billion valuation. However, its current valuation in 2023 is $287 million, indicating some changes in its market value over the years. Despite fluctuations, Jumia’s presence as a pioneering African e-commerce platform remains significant. 

Why is Africa booming with unicorns? 

Africa as a continent offers an immense and continually expanding market opportunity, given its vast population of over 1.3 billion people. You could also say that the increase in smartphone usage has democratized access to digital services, enabling startups to reach a broader audience. 

Africa’s tech talent pool is also rapidly maturing, with individuals gaining expertise in local dynamics. Seasoned founders with experience in multiple startups contribute to the ecosystem’s growth. Access to funding, both locally and internationally, fuels startup expansion, and African startups often address local challenges, resonating with users and investors. 

Mixing all these factors creates a dynamic and promising landscape, fostering innovation and economic growth through Africa’s unicorn companies. 

Conclusion

The growth of these 10 African unicorns highlights the potential and untapped opportunities within the African market. 

As Africa’s economy continues to expand and transform, it’s exciting to anticipate which startups will emerge as the next leaders and contribute to the ongoing progress of the continent. Who knows, we might even see African decacorns (over $10B) in the future. 

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