Investors have created Ethiopia’s first startup angel network
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Welcome to TC Daily! In today’s digest: Airtel Money partners with Jumia, Orange is introducing a new smartphone and Ethiopia gets its first angel investment network.
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AIRTEL MONEY PARTNERS JUMIA
In Kenya, Airtel Money has partnered with Jumia to support mobile payments on the ecommerce platform. The pair up means the telco’s mobile money users can now order items on Jumia and pay using their Airtel Money wallet. So rather than input details of their bank cards, customers can use USSD to make their payment.
This is another interesting partnership for mobile money as telecom companies increase the number of use cases for the service. mPesa, the biggest mobile money service in the country already supports remittances, lending and payments. In Ghana, over 108,000 MTN mobile money users invested in the telco’s stock market IPO in 2018 by simply using their mobile wallets. The IPO was worth $237 million and 84.6% of the investors used MTN Ghana’s mobile wallet.
CAIRO-BASED STARTUP RAISES FUNDING
In Egypt, online fashion platform La Reina has raised funding from investors including 500 Startups and Algebra Ventures. The amount raised was undisclosed.
La Reina is an online store that allows women to rent new or used designer dresses and clothes. Since 2016 when it was founded, the company has worked with fashion brands including Zara, Mango, Maison Yeye and Asos, to “democratize” access to luxurious but expensive dresses.
In the last few months, the company has rolled out a monthly subscription model allowing customers to order for 2-3 new or used dresses on a weekly. According to Menabytes, the company claims to have “over 100,000 users” without explaining further and has previously raised $1 million.
No doubt the pandemic has affected La Reina’s operations. But its investors say they are impressed with how the business has adjusted as more people take to online shopping albeit lockdown
restrictions limited retail to essential products. With its latest funding round, La Reina says it is forging ahead and will expand its product offerings.
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ORANGE AND GOOGLE ARE ROLLING OUT A NEW 4G DEVICE
French telco, Orange has partnered with Google to launch a low budget 4G android smartphone. The new device runs on Google’s Android Go, a stripped-down version of Android designed for ultra-budget devices with very limited specifications. Sanza android will retail for around $30 a pop and will be available to customers in 13 Middle Eastern and francophone Africa countries.
Orange is one of the biggest telecom companies in Africa with over 110 million subscribers in Africa, mostly in North Africa and french-speaking Africa. It had around 27.9 million 4G subscribers by June 2020. Like other telcos, Orange wants to reduce the digital divide in its operating markets while increasing its data services revenue.
An easy way to do this is improve access to affordable
smartphones. Since 2019, it has partnered with phone companies including Transsion and KaiOS to roll out cheap devices into the market. The tie up with Google furthers this drive.
IS IT CHEAPER TO ASSEMBLE SOLAR PANELS IN NIGERIA?
Last week, Nigerian solar energy company, Auxano Solar raised $1.5 million from All On, an impact investment fund owned by oil major, Royal Dutch Shell. Auxano’s unique value proposition is that it assembles solar panels locally.
The company operates a factory in an industrial neighbourhood in the western part of Lagos, a tricky location with a horrendous traffic situation. With the latest fund raise, the company says it will relocate to Ibeju Lekki which is on the eastern part of Lagos but is linked to the city’s important residential and commercial centres.
TechCabal’s Muyiwa Olowogboyega visited Auxano’s assembling plant and he raised an important question: how competitive is local assembling of solar panels and does it reduce costs for consumers?
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ETHIOPIA LAUNCHES ITS FIRST ANGEL NETWORK
In Ethiopia, a group of investors have created the Addis Ababa Angels Network (AAAN). This is
reportedly the country’s first angel network founded to provide funding to the country’s early-stage startups. This is an important move, especially at a time when the East African country liberalises and opens up its economy to competitive and foreign participation.
AAAN will be led by Shem Asefaw, a Toronto-based investor with 24 years of experience working developing talent at US human resource company, Mercer. After leaving Mercer in 2014, Asefaw started ShemTECH, a venture firm which has invested in Kenyan and Ethiopian companies. Other AAAN founding members include: Addis Alemayehou, Chairman at KAZANA Group; Henok Assefa Founder at Precise Consult; Adam Abate CEO at PAGA Ethiopia; Joseph Kibur Founder and CEO at YAYA Investment; and Levi Girma Co-Founder
at Nest Ventures.
WHY ARE AFRICA’S COVID-19 NUMBERS SO LOW?
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there have been a number of speculations and reports about how badly it could affect Africa. After all, the continent has been structurally incapable of handling many health crises that have already been addressed in other global regions. So as the pandemic went global in March with little understanding about how to fight the virus, “experts” and others abroad assumed the worst for Africa.
Although the region has recorded 1.2 million infections and 35,440 deaths, it still pales in comparison to the 6.23 million cases and over 97,000 deaths in India a country with a population size that is larger than the entire African continent.
Perplexed that their predictions had failed to manifest, a few publications questioned why Africa’s COVID-19 cases have been relatively low. Some of these articles have drawn backlash and criticism for expecting the worst while ignoring nuances on the continent that have helped to stem the spread of the deadly disease.
This op-ed by the Editorial Board of the Financial Times strikes a balance. Titled “good policy and good luck”, it gives credit to Africa’s control measures while reminding governments that now is no time to relax.