My Views

African Unicorns

At a $1 billion valuation, Flutterwave would be among the top 10 companies if it was listed on Nigeria’s stock exchange! Big congrats to the Flutterwave team for this feat.

There are at least 4 Unicorns (a company valued at $1 billion or more) in Africa as far as the startup ecosystem is concerned: Jumia, Interswitch, Fawry and Flutterwave. Ever the curious Junior that I am, I checked to see if there are any things to be learned from them:

1. 3 of them were founded in Nigeria (Fawry is Egyptian). An interesting observation when you consider that 80% of the 10 most valuable companies in Africa are South African . Yet, SA seems not to have produced any Unicorns in the startup arena. (Some would say Telecoms company Cell C is a Unicorn but I don’t think it’s exactly a startup)

2. With the exception of Jumia, the other 3 are in Fintech. I guess no surprises there.

3. With the exception of Interswitch, none of the them was started by a sole founder. Even Interswitch was technically a collaboration between companies like Telnet, Accenture, and a consortium of banks so not exactly a lone ranger tale.

4. All founders of these companies had some sort of prior work experience before their startups: either as entrepreneurs or employees.

5. All founders are educated up to the tertiary level (and some post-graduate), with many attending very renowned global institutions. So no Mark Zuckerbergs herešŸ˜.

6. As expected, the funding rounds were dominated by foreign investors, with local investors taking minority stakes.

Interestingly, there are about 90 listed companies (not including these startups) in Africa that are worth at least $1 billion in different industries. So it’s still very possible for you to do a business that will get to the billion dollar status, outside the route of the tech startup.

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Babatunde Akin-Moses

I am currently CEO and co-founder of Sycamore, a peer to peer lending platform that connects lenders to borrowers using technology. I love to write about business, economy, policy, startups, inspiration and entertainment. I am also deeply passionate about making Nigeria and Africa as a whole, a much better place to thrive and prosper for all.

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