Image Source: rupixen.com
It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.
He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.
The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.
“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.
He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.
Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora
As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”
Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)
According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.
A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).
When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.
The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa
So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.
We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.
Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.
The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.
Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.
When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.
As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.
Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital
Platform Capital invests in USA-based innovative peer-to-peer financing platform SoLo Funds
Platform Capital Chairman, Dr. Akintoye Akindele and Rodney Williams, Co-Founder of SoLo Funds Inc. (Image & Press Release: Platform Capital)
Platform Capital (“Platform”), a leading growth markets investor, is pleased to announce its investment in and partnership with SoLo Funds Inc. (“SoLo”), an innovative and proprietary peer-to-peer financing platform based in USA that has revolutionised the access to and supply of short-term funds for individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses.
Twenty-five percent of Americans are unbanked or underbanked, whilst 80% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck, and don’t have adequate savings to cover unforeseen expenses. In addition, implicit and explicit biases mean that women and people of colour are three times more likely to see their credit applications rejected. As a result, they are left with no other options, and fall prey to payday lenders, where a small loan can accrue over 400% APR, trapping them in a cycle of debt.
SoLo replaces payday lenders with a community-based, market-driven model for access to short-term funds for individuals. Through its community, individuals are able to access funds ranging from $50 to $1,000 for up to 2 weeks, that are delivered within hours through a simple and non-approval sign-up process powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The platform connects users directly and determines a SoLo score based on ability to repay, spending habits, payment frequency, behavioural data, and location-based data. There are no fees or compounding interest paid to SoLo or the member of the community providing the funds, avoiding the debt trap that is common in traditional short-term lending.
Since launch in 2018, the SoLo community has grown to over 300,000 users. The company has seen significant adoption of its model in states with large populations and high cost of living. Over the past 12 months, SoLo’s community has experienced more than 2,000% growth, introduced a new product feature “lender protection service” that safeguards the financed amount in case of a default, and has partnered with Kiva to enable access to funds for entrepreneurs and business owners ranging from $1,000 to $15,000.
SoLo Funds mission is to replace payday lenders with a community-based, market-driven model for individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses to access financing. The company has raised $10 million lead by international investors including ACME Capital, Impact America Fund, Techstars, Endeavor Catalyst, and CEAS Investments to further develop its technology, scale its team, and expand across the USA.
Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital, joins the Board as an observer & adviser.
Rodney Williams, Co-Founder of SoLo Funds Inc., said “We’re excited about our partnership with Platform Capital, we look forward to expanding our services into Africa. This partnership enables us to achieve our vision of being the number one access to funds provider for people and businesses in need. We believe that our platform will certainly impact and change conversation in Africa around how businesses and individuals can access funds.”
Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital, said: “We are proud to partner with SoLo Funds. Access to funds is a problem that affects millions of people globally. We believe that SoLo’s alternative approach to laccessing funds will impact millions of lives and position them as an innovative disruptor in the funding space. We look forward to working with SoLo Funds to scale their innovative solutions to positively impact people’s lives.”
Paymob completes Series A funding of $18.5 million to fuel regional expansion
Paymob Press Release/Founders Photo (Source: Paymob)
Paymob, Egypt’s market-leading digital payments provider, announces the largest ever Series A fund raise by an Egyptian company and one of the largest fintech equity rounds in North Africa. The Company has raised US$15 million of new capital from existing investors in a second tranche of its Series A fundraising activity. It follows a first tranche of US$3.5 million, raised in July 2020.
The capital raise was led by Global Ventures, the UAE-based venture capital firm. It also included A15, a leading tech investment fund and FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank. Paymob will use proceeds to: Continue expanding its merchant network, Meet the increasing demand, Enhance its suite of products further and Fuel its regional expansion efforts.
Paymob empowers underserved SMEs with improved and more accessible digital payments offerings as part of the Central Bank of Egypt’s efforts and initiatives towards nationwide digital financial inclusion. The Company will accelerate its expansion in Saudi Arabia and other markets across the region, in 2021.
Paymob’s mobile wallets infrastructure processes over 85% market share of transactions throughput in the Egyptian market and serves merchants across five different markets including Kenya, Pakistan, and Palestine. Paymob is the largest payment facilitator in Egypt and is the only Egyptian FinTech to expand beyond its local market.
In payment acceptance, Paymob’s monthly revenue grew over 5x in 2020 and its technology is used across economic sectors by over 35,000 local Egyptian and global merchants, such as Swvl, ElGouna, Tradeline, LG, Samsonite, Aeropostale, Befit, Breadfast, Gourmet, and the American University of Cairo. Paymob’s annual Total Payment Volume processed is now over $5 billion.
“We couldn’t be more excited for Paymob’s next phase of growth; the market opportunity in the region is unprecedented. The large digital payments gap still exists and we are delighted to be working with progressive-thinking regulators to address this. This latest capital raise will accelerate our progress to reducing the digital payments bottleneck. All our existing investors have increased their holdings, and we thank them both for their support and the confidence they have in our business model and track record of execution.” – said Paymob’s CEO and co-founder, Islam Shawky.
“We are delighted to lead this momentous FinTech fund raise in the region. Paymob has a perfect combination of a high-quality technology, a product customers increasingly cannot do without and an outstanding management team. Their market opportunity is also huge; Egypt’s transformation to a cashless society is being enabled by the unique products Paymob has built. We look forward to continue supporting their expansion.” – said Basil Moftah, Global Ventures’ General Partner.
“As one of Paymob’s earliest backers, we are always proud to support a young and passionate team revolutionizing the development and advancement of financial systems in Egypt, our region and beyond. Paymob’s team has shown great returns with very limited resources. Witnessing the impact of facilitating financial services to millions of end-consumers and tens of thousands of merchants coupled with hypergrowth has been a very fulfilling experience for A15.” – said Karim Beshara, A15’s Chairman.
“Paymob is an excellent fit with FMO’s Ventures Program based on its exceptional team, innovative payment solutions and proven capability to include thousands of underserved Egyptian merchants into financial services offered by the company and its partners. We are proud to be part of the journey of Paymob in Egypt and excited to support the team throughout their next phase. The FMO Ventures Program is a EUR 200mln investment program funded by FMO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission targeting early-stage technology-enabled innovative business models in emerging markets.” – said: Jaap Reinking, Director Private Equity at FMO.
Sawari Ventures closes $71 million fund to invest in Egyptian-led startups
Press Release/Image Source: Sawari Ventures
Sawari Ventures announced the closing of the Egypt-based fund with total commitments of USD 30 Million from Misr Insurance Group, Ekuity, National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, and Suez Canal Bank. The fund previously closed USD 41 million of raised investments from European Investment Bank, CDC , Proparco, DGGF which is managed by the South African fund Sango Capital, increasing the total fund size to over USD 71 Million to invest in Egyptian technology and knowledge driven companies.
Founder and Chairman of Sawari Ventures, Ahmed El Alfi said in a statement, “The Egypt based fund is a privately-held fund regulated by the Financial Regulatory Authority of Egypt (FRA), which allowed us to attract capital from top tier local financial institutions to co-invest with foreign capital from international development financial institutions, doubling our allocation to invest in Egyptian high growth companies to sixty-eight million U.S. Dollars. Our aim is to create exceptional returns through investing in knowledge driven companies, which have the potential of bringing transformational changes to the Egyptian economy. The fund will support local companies with dedicated capital, in addition to quality expertise from our seasoned and specialized team, and the value add of our investors.”
Sawari Ventures is the leading venture capital firm based in Egypt that is driven by passion for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Led by Ahmed Al-Alfi, Hany Al-Sonbay and Wael Amin, Sawari Ventures has invested in more than 30 companies, backing multiple successful technology companies such as SWVL , Instabug, and Si-Ware.
During the announcement, Basil Heni, Chairman and Managing Director of Misr Insurance Holding Company said, “Misr Insurance Holding Group, as the largest non-bank financial group in Egypt, was keen on this strategic partnership with Sawari Ventures, the leading company in managing capital funds. The partnership is directed towards emerging small and medium-sized enterprises, which is in accordance with the group’s role in supporting this vital sector in the economy. This is evident in the fact that we own the largest share in the fund.”
“Banque Misr was the first to commit to Sawari Ventures and this move is part of our strategy to support financial inclusion and digitize our banking operations, and is in keeping with our roots as an entrepreneurial bank,” said Akef El Maghraby, Vice Chairman of Banque Misr.
“The National Bank of Egypt has always believed that Egyptian Small and Medium Enterprises are the growth engine of the Egyptian economy. We are very aligned with Sawari Ventures in our vision which is why we are the largest banking investor in the fund” said Ahmed ElSaeed, CEO of Investments at the National Bank of Egypt.
“Our alliance with Sawari Ventures further strengthens the resurgence of the Kuwaiti investments in Egypt, partnering with a selective group of Egyptian institutions and investment funds, with the aim of contributing to the creation of scalable businesses as well as achieving the targeted investment returns,” said Adnan Al Sager, the CEO at Ekuity Holding, the Investment arm in Egypt of the Kuwait Investment Authority (“The Kuwait sovereign wealth fund”).
“Our partnership with Sawari Ventures is aligned with our strategy to expand our investment portfolio especially in the digital economy and SME segments.”, said Mohamed Regai, Chief Innovation Officer at Banque du Caire, “We are committed to further increase our exposure given the attractiveness and impact of these sectors.”
El-Haythem ElKobrosly, Head of Commercial, at Suez Canal Bank closed with “We obtained our approval in record time based upon the track record and experience of the Sawari Ventures team. We believe it is the beginning of a partnership that will allow our bank to further engage in the digital economy through additional co-investments and lending.”
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