Early-stage investor DFS Lab, has so far made 19 investments in African digital startups in 2021. This has made it one of the continent’s most active investment firms, bringing its overall portfolio size to 22 startups.
The 19 African startups supported by DFS Lab cover the four regions of the continent. Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya have taken part in the funding program done so far in 2021. The program applications are opened on a rotational basis for startups participants to receive $25 thousand with the potential to increase other commitments later.
The platform will work with the startups for 4-6 months after the pre-seed round to develop a growth strategy that leads to the next round of funding. DFS Lab will also assist the startups in building a solid foundation, including a collection of shareable documents to enable the teams to validate their idea.
There will also be a foreign and local mentorship for startups in it’s primary accelerator programme. Its portfolio companies have also been able to raise capital from firms like Bessamer, Tiger Global, Balderton, DST Global, QED, Accel, Anthemis, 500 Global, Y Combinator, Flourish Ventures, NYCA, and Accion Venture Lab, among others.
A Rundown of Startups DFS Lab has Helped
Six of the startups come from Nigeria, namely Suplias, a B2B marketplace where mom and pop retailers in Africa buy inventory directly from manufactures using a mobile app. OnePipe, which builds and maintains an Application Programming Interface that enables banks to partner with modern digital services and fintech. Payhippo, a business lending startup. Star Kitchens Group, a restaurant management platform. Bumpa, an app that empowers sellers with the tools they need for digital commerce. SendChamp, a messaging platform for businesses and developers to power customer verification and personalise communications across multiple channels.
Eight of the companies funded are from Kenya, including Ando Foods, a cloud kitchen startup building high-quality food brands for the digital age. GoBebe, a multi-faceted on-demand delivery and errands service. PesaKit, a free business app that allows mobile money agents to become the go-to shop for affordable financial and digital services. TuShop, a community group buying platform where members can sell groceries to those in their social networks and communities.
Other Kenyan startups backed by DFS Lba included Koa, which facilitates high-volume savings and democratises access to financial products. Tanda, a banking startup that caters to MSMEs by offering inventory credit and assisting them in selling digital products. Kibanda Topup, which develops tools that enable restaurants to access affordable fresh and dry products and Logistify, which develops last-mile distribution infrastructure for food suppliers.
Egypt’s Appetito, a grocery delivery platform. South Africa’s Akiba Digital, which uses alternative data to unlock financial opportunities for consumers and businesses. Pan-African Boost, which is building a “B2B Shopify” for informal retailers. Zambia’s Union54, which provides a card-issuing Application Programming Interface for corporates who want virtual or physical multi-currency debit cards, and an unnamed stealth startup round out the list.
“We believe that the next generation of companies that will provide a great deal of value on the African continent will be in the digital commerce space. We’re passionate about working closely with founders in this space from the very early stages. The founders we back get to take advantage of our extensive knowledge in the space, our expansive network of mentors who are seasoned operators ready to guide our founders as they execute on their vision, and our relationships with bigger investors who can back them as they scale”, Joseph Benson-Aruna, partner at DFS Lab said.
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