Flutterwave is an African fintech company that offers payment services to African and global merchants while Gro Intelligence is an analytics startup using artificial intelligence systems to help organizations, especially in the agricultural sector to make more efficient and effective decisions that impact their strategic and financial planning.
These two African companies were listed alongside giant firms like Twitter, Apple and Stripe, in the ‘Pioneer’ category of the coveted list. Other categories include Leaders, Innovators, Disruptors, and Titans.
TIME said Flutterwave made the list for its impact in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, having set up digital storefronts for 20,000 customers who were bound to their homes by the lockdown.
According to the magazine, Agro Intelligence was selected for building the AI-powered decision engine across climate, agriculture, and the economy. The companies ingest and analyses over 650 trillion data points from more than 40,000 sources. It covers crop forecasts, satellite images, topography, reports on precipitation, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and provides insights and forecasts into 15,000 unique agricultural products.
Flutterwave, which was co-founded by Nigeria’s Olugbenga Agboola, reached a valuation of over $1 billion in March 2021 after raising $170m in a Series C round. The investment elevated the company to a unicorn position, making it the fourth African startup to reach that status.
Fawry, a fintech firm based in Egypt; Nigerian payments platform, Interswitch; and e-commerce giant, Jumia, were the three African companies to have reached a $1 billion valuation before Flutterwave’s emergence.
In 2014, Sara Menker, an Ethiopian-born former Wall Street commodities trader, founded Gro Intelligence in Kenya with a mission to build an AI-powered decision engine that would foster a marriage between ecology and economy.
Early this year, the company raised $85 million funding from tech investors, Intel Capital and Africa Internet Ventures (a strategic partnership between TPG Growth and EchoVC).
How TIME chose the most influential companies
The magazine requested nominations from its global network of editors and correspondents, as well as from industry experts. They were required to pick from across sectors including health care, entertainment, transportation, technology and more.
TIME then evaluated every nominated company, using key factors such as relevance, impact, innovation, leadership, ambition and success.