Emerging Themes in Africa Startup

I was speaking with my mentor some days ago and we touched on some developing themes we believe are worth exploring across the African startup ecosystem. I will add to this list as new themes emerge.

Oluwole Oyekanmi
4 min readAug 7, 2018

Inclusive Fintech

A large number of Africans still do not have access to financial services. 70% of people in sub-saharan Africa do have a bank account. In Nigeria, a country where technologically adoption is more advanced has 61% of the adult population un- or underbanked.

The business models of banks means they lack the incentive to serve rural areas with low value customers who are expensive to acquire and service

Access to a bank account and other financial services will have a ripple effect allowing access to other services such as lending, insurance, health care, investment products and all other services.

The companies that will win are companies that utilise and enable alternative data collection and analytics which allows use of not-so-traditional means of evaluating users. Also, companies that have access to this demography will be hugely valuable. For example, micro-lending platforms can mine their data to understand the demography of borrowers can help on-board them to other financial services.

Additionally, if a financial institution can plug into data sources available to startups through various APIs, they can create alternative products that would serve the un-banked.

One startup that excites me is Pezesha. Pezesha seeks to financially empower low-income earners by connecting them to credit providers. Pezesha does the grunt work in the ecosystem. They have an infrastructure for educating and scoring borrowers, after which they match good and quality borrowers with lenders.


RibyFinance is interesting because the company meets the informal sector where they are, in their co-operatives, social savings groups and associations. Co-operatives are informal and has provided financial services such as lending, savings, underwriting to it users. These groups have shared aspirations and goals. This space one to keep an eye on.

Inclusiveft is also going to be an important player. The company is bringing unbanked Africans online through a financial data API.

The space needs a bit of attention in relation to the regulatory landscape, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Logistics/B2B retail

A few things to note about this space.

First, it is a huge market. It is not only the backbone of all commerce, many industries and economies rely on this bit for survival.

Second, the inefficiencies are apparent and no one has found a way to solve it.

Third, it is highly fragmented. No one entity can solve the problems inherent so, there is the need for players who can introduce new business models and technologies to change how business is done.

Expanding beyond the blanket ‘logistics’ term, below are a few verticals that I’d like to highlight

On-demand trucking: These startups match shippers with carriers. They have traders, merchants and small trading businesses as customers.

Delivery platforms & last-mile parcel delivery: They tend to reach a contractual agreement with a large enterprise or medium sized business — they pickup and deliver to their customer’s end-users.

Supply chain optimisation: This is an emerging trend and where I believe is the north star in this industry. In the production, supply and delivery of a good to its final consumer, the eco-system is fraught with a lot of middle men and inefficiencies.

Demand for logistics will be shaped by the rapid growth of online retailing, growing middle class and increase in access to mobile devices and internet.

JetStreamAfrica simplifies the procurement of African agriculture products for global food companies. Jetstream will (no pun indended) streamline the currently manual agricultural export trading process.

Similarly, Twiga Food in Kenya supplies fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from farmers in rural Kenya to small- and medium-sized vendors, outlets and kiosks in the Nairobi.

These types of companies have enormous potential to become large enterprises and drive the next generation of commerce

If you are working in any of these space or some of these ideas excite you,feel free to get in touch with me @oluwoleco



Oluwole Oyekanmi

Learning | I write about data, startups, and investing