25 MARCH, 2022


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Friday, finally ☀️

Russia is set to launch an Instagram clone called Rossgram. 

Last week, Russia banned Facebook and Instagram in retaliation for the sanctions the platforms have taken against it for its actions in Ukraine. 

Upon banning Instagram, Russian developers Alexander Zobov and Kirill Filimonov started building Rossgram to help Russians connect with one another. 

The app is set to launch on the 28th of this month. 

But it’s not the first time copycats of Western brands are being copied in Russia. As many brands including McDonald’s, IKEA and Starbucks shut down operations in Russia, the government keeps approving trademarks for doppelganger brands including a “Starducks”, an “Uncle Vanya” which serves as an alteration of McDonald’s Big Mac as “Bikmak”, and even “Makdonalds”.

This is all an infringement on the intellectual property of the original brands, of course, but Russia is unbothered. Its government mentioned that it would allow such infringement on brand names from “unfriendly countries”.

In today’s edition

  • The pastor turned tech bro
  • The 10 African startups selected for CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa
  • TC Insights: Funding Tracker
  • Event: Building from Ground Up
  • Job opportunities



Even if I have the call of God, it doesn’t mean I can’t have a career. I shouldn’t have to rely on church offerings to survive. Here’s where people have a problem with pastors: they believe that most pastors wait for tithes or offerings. But that’s not me.”

When Jay*, a pastor-turned-data-scientist, was in his final year as a computer engineering student at the Oduduwa University in Osun state, Nigeria, he decided his final year project would focus on e-voting in Nigeria. “But that topic wasn’t approved,” he says. The reason, Jay says, was that the lecturers in charge, at the time, knew nothing about the applications of tech. “They told me to be realistic. This was 2018, mind you, but they said that tech wasn’t that important in the country, and that I should research something else. I can’t remember what I finally wrote about, but I know it had nothing to do with tech and its potential impact on our society.”

If the impact of tech on voting would not be important in 2018, the year before Africa’s most populous country conducted its last general elections, when would it ever be?

For Jay, this event pushed him towards putting his degree to good use and becoming an all-round tech bro. 

Now, he’s a graphics designer, a UI designer and he’s even learning software engineering. He’s also a data annotator earning ₦250,000 ($600)/month in a company that usually pays ten times that amount to its non-Nigerian workers. 

Read his story in the latest episode of Digital Nomads.


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The Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) Foundation has announced the 10 African fintech startups that have been selected for the special Dubai edition of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa

The accelerator programme was launched in 2018 to provide insight and education for financial inclusion fintechs from MENA and Africa and connect them with key stakeholders like microfinance institutions, investors and industry experts.

Over 3 editions, the programme has supported over 20 fintech startups including Crop2Cash, Vooli, Kotani Pay and Mipango. 

Its fourth edition is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs – Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, and will take place in Dubai. The 3-day event will see expert speakers and mentors from Luxembourg and UAE supporting the selected fintechs in developing their businesses and achieving their inclusion goals. 

So who’s on the list?

Out of 130 applications, 10 fintechs across 6 countries were selected. They include:

From Nigeria, there’s Social Lender, Halal Payment, and MamaMoni Limited. Uganda also has 2 startups in the mix namely eMaisha Pay, and International Airtime Top Up. From Zimbabwe, 2 startups—VIRL Rural & Social Financial Services, and eAgro—made the cut. 

The last 3 startups are Côte d’Ivoire’s Damansah, South Africa’s AKIBA, and Ghana’s mOtito.



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African startups have raised over $1 billion in funding in 2022. We’ve built a product that gives you insights into these funding insights in real-time and it’s launching soon. Want early access? Register here!

This week, Nigerian agri-tech startup ThriveAgric raised $56.4m in debt funding from local commercial banks and institutional investors to grow its 200,000-strong farmer base and expand into new African markets.

The funding also includes a co-investment grant of $1.75 million from the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment.

Here are the other deals for the week:

  • Kenyan-based agritech startup Apollo Agriculture, raised a $40m Series B round to help it expand internationally and enhance its product. The round was led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, with participation from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Yara Growth Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, CDC, Anthemis Exponential Ventures and others.
  • Senegalese logistics startup Chargel raised a $750k pre-seed round. The round, a mix of equity and debt, featured Century Oak Capital and Logos Ventures, alongside prominent angel investors from Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.
  • Simplifyd, a Nigerian startup raised $500k in pre-seed funding from Future Africa and Y Combinator.
  • Egyptian fitness app Welnes closed a $300k seed funding round to expand its team The round was led by Flat6Labs, with participation from Samurai Incubate, UI Investments, and a group of angel investors. 
  • Klas, an edtech startup based in Nigeria raised a $130k angel round from investors including Tola Adesanmi (Spleet), Odunayo Eweniyi (Piggyvest), Nadayar Enegesi (Eden life), Njoku Emmanuel (Lazerpay), Leonard Stiegeler (Jumia), Voltron capital, Cabal Fund, Velocity Digital, HoaQ, and other notable angels.

That’s it for this week!

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn for more updates.


How do you build the world’s first cross-border payment marketplace?

This morning, for the final episode of #BuildingFromGroundUp, we’ll be speaking with Kay Akinwunmi, Co-founder and CEO at Zazuu.

Zazuu helps people access the best rates on remittances to Africa and send money seamlessly. It was borne out of a vision to make it easier and cheaper for Africans to send money to Africa.

Today at 11 am (WAT), Kay will be taking us into what goes into actualizing this vision, what his biggest hurdles have been so far and what he’s learned from them, and how he envisions Zazuu’s place in Africa’s fintech future.

Sign up here.

The #BuildingFromGroundUp series is powered by the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub in partnership with TechCabal.

Note: By clicking on the registration link for any of these events, you’ve indicated interest in the event and will get an invite to attend. To opt out, please ignore the invite.



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Check out more job opportunities here, and submit your job listings at bit.ly/tcxjobs

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Written by – Timi Odueso, Mobolaji Adebayo & Boluwatife Sanwo

Edited by – Kelechi Njoku


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