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Happy pre-Friday ☀️

Twitter—or X—won’t be free for long. 

Yesterday, the platform started charging new users in the Philippines and New Zealand a $1 annual fee to join the app. Existing users are exempt from the “Not A Bot” fee, but anyone who wants to join the platform from these regions will have to fork over $1 to write on the platform. The new move will help reduce the amount of spambots and fake activity prevalent in those regions. 

They’ll be able to read for free, but they’ll have to pay 100 pennies to share their thoughts.

Acquisitions

Safaricom fully acquires M-Pesa Holding

You're all mine GIF
GIF source: Tenor

Safaricom now fully owns M-Pesa Holding.

Yesterday, the telecommunications company announced its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of M-Pesa Holding Company Limited (MPHCL).

Per the statement, Safaricom and its parent company, Vodafone International Holdings B.V., had reached an agreement on April 17, 2023, for Safaricom to acquire Vodafone’s entire 100% stake in M-Pesa Holding Company Limited from Vodafone BV.

This comes after Vodafones’s CEO Margherita Della said the company was looking to simplify its processes to restore its competitive edge.

ICYMI: The agreement was that Vodacom would sell M-Pesa trust company to Safaricom for $1. After receiving approval from shareholders and the relevant regulators, the deal has been sealed.

M-Pesa Holdings is different from the M-Pesa service Safaricom offers. M-Pesa Holdings is a corporate trustee that holds all deposits of the M-Pesa service and invests them for the benefit of the customers. 

Zoom out: The holding company, per Vodafone, had €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion), as at April 2023, in customer funds which Safaricom could invest in short-term securities.

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Funding

LeapFrog Investments to invest $1 billion fund in Africa

Money, I love the smell meme
Image Source: YungNollywood

This private equity firm is betting on the future of African startups, one leap at a time. 

LeapFrog Investments, a private equity firm investing in Asia and Africa, is set to raise $1 billion for its new fund, Emerging Consumer Fund IV. The fund will be invested in healthcare and financial businesses on the continent. 

A $1 billion fund: Several institutional investors and limited partners have backed the Emerging Consumer Fund IV. These include the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which have committed $60 million and $50 million, respectively. Other investors include Prudential Financials ($500 million), AIA Group ($200 million), and Temasek, a Singapore-based investment company.

The fund will hold a final close by February 2024. LeapFrog says it will make initial investments of $30–$70 million in 18–20 high-growth businesses.

Since launching Fund IV in 2022, LeapFrog investment has invested in Sun King and Jumo in South Africa, Interswitch in Nigeria, Goodlife Pharmacy in Kenya, and Pyramid Group, which distributes orthopaedic and cardiac equipment.

Lights out: LeapFrog’s Emerging Consumer Fund IV is a part of the growing queue of global investment firms and development finance institutions who are pumping VC dollars on the continent amidst the gruelling funding winter.

Startups

Crypto platform, VIBRA, shuts down in all three markets

Vincent Li, co-founder of VIBRA. Image source: Afrikanheroes

Another setback has befallen the African crypto ecosystem.

VIBRA, the Africa-focused crypto platform co-founded by Vincent Li—co-founder of web3 accelerator Adaverse—has shut down in all three of its markets: Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. This development contradicts earlier reports that indicated the shutdown was limited to Nigeria alone.

What went wrong? Vincent Li stated that the company is currently undergoing a significant pivot. However, multiple reliable sources, including former employees who chose to resign, offer a different perspective.

A former employee disclosed that in July, the team of over ten individuals was given the ultimatum to resign or face termination. During this period, it became evident that the company was grappling with existential challenges. 

In the same month, VIBRA communicated to its users, via email, that it would discontinue services by July 15. Although Li stated that the discontinuation was specific to Nigerian users, messages in the company’s Telegram group suggested a broader closure.

Another ex-employee stated that user engagement on the VIBRA app had dwindled, and revenue from transaction fees had fallen. Furthermore, VIBRA had an education initiative, VIBRAinClass, where experts could earn money for teaching Africans about blockchain. However, an ex-employee claimed that VIBRA had a challenge in achieving substantial user turnover from their education initiative, and that may have contributed to the company’s closure.

There’s more: Aside from educating users about cryptocurrencies, VIBRA also relied on offering incentives to acquire customers, a common strategy among blockchain startups. However, this approach turned out to be costly for the company.

VIBRA joins other Africancrypto startups that have closed in 2023, including LazerPay, which shut down its operations in April, and Pillow, which shut down in June.

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Funding

Kuramo Capital to invest $150 million in African women-led startups

Executives of the Kuramo Capital and Kuramo Foundation

Kuramo Capital Management, a private equity firm will invest $150 million in female-led startups across Africa over the next decade, according to a TechTrends KE report. 

The sub-Saharan Africa-focused investment management firm will make these investments through its Moremi platform—an initiative that empowers women enterprises and promotes gender-equitable fund management.

The Moremi platform offers an accelerator programme, a warehousing/lending facility, and a Fund of funds. Kuramo has unveiled the first cohort of the accelerator programme consisting of 40 female entrepreneurs and fund managers annually.

Kuramo hopes to address the knowledge gap amongst female fund managers in Africa through its accelerator. The programme will equip participants with a structured curriculum for capacity building, technical assistance, and mentoring.

Launched in 2011, Kuramo said it has mobilised over Ksh 73.8 billion ($3.5 billion) to support over 200 companies and create over 50,000 jobs in Africa. 

Lights out: Less than 10% of startups on the continent are female-led. Data from The Big Deal suggests that female-led startups on the continent received just a pinch—about 2.2%—of the total funding raised in the first half of 2023. Investment funds like Kuramo join others like FirstCheck Africa which gives new hopes to female entrepreneurs looking to raise funds.

Attend the Ugandan National Science Week

The National Science Week (NSW) is a hallmark event in Uganda’s calendar, celebrated every year to honor Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). The event will feature a dedicated Investor Summit, bringing together some of the world’s leading pan African Venture Capitalists, Investors, and Startups. Find out more here.

Mobility

Nigerian Bolt drivers demand for NIN verification of passengers

counting money GIF
Inage source: AUATON

Ride-hailing drivers in Nigeria are calling for stronger safety measures.

On October 10, 2023, three Bolt drivers were shot dead by car snatchers in Port Harcourt and Abuja, Nigeria. The drivers, Emmanuel Daniel, Roland Asuru, and a mechanic named John Okon, were fatally shot in Port Harcourt, while Kelvin Oga, another driver, met a similar fate in Abuja.

Following these horrific events, e-hailing drivers protested the killings and the Nigerian police launched an investigation into the matter. Now, the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON), are calling on e-hailing companies like Uber and Bolt to implement the use of National Identification Numbers (NIN) to verify passengers, for enhanced driver safety.

What is Bolt doing about this? In a statement seen by TechNext, Bolt assured its ongoing cooperation with the police investigation and stated its commitment to keeping the public informed as more information becomes available. Bolt also highlighted its existing safety measures, which include driver and rider trip-sharing, an SOS emergency button for seeking immediate help, rider and driver rating systems, and insurance coverage for injuries or damage during trips.

Zoom out: The safety of using e-hailing platforms remains a concern worldwide. In March, a South African Bolt driver was shot dead after being hijacked by criminals he had picked up masquerading as riders. In fact, since 2017, Uber has had to introduce several safety measures—including hiring security response teams—for its South African drivers after they faced violence at the hands of riders and fellow drivers.

Crypto Tracker

The World Wide Web3

Source:

Coin Market Cap logo

Coin Name

Current Value

Day

Month

Bitcoin $28,328

– 1.62%

+ 5.56%

Ether $1,552

– 1.45%

– 5.22%

Big Time

$0.14

– 10.28%

+ 112.19%

Loom Network $0.12

– 31.24%

+ 171.36%

* Data as of 06:45 AM WAT, October 19, 2023.

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Opportunities

  • The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), through the Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation (ONDI), in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), are organising a one-week networking visit to Japan by selected Nigerian CleanTech Startups. Apply here.
  • Access Bank ART X prize for early career African artists returns for its 2023/2024 edition. Applications are open for artists who have dedicated at least three years to their practice. The winner gets a $10,000 grant. Apply by October 18.
  • Applications are open forthe Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCCP) Scholarship (fully funded), aimed at students from Ghana who wish to develop a career in Marine science. Each successful recipient will be entitled to tuition fees, a living allowance and a research support grant. Apply by October 17.
  • Calling all emerging conservation photographers and storytellers! Applications are open for the Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant 2023($2,000 prize). Four successful grantees will receive a fully-funded assignment to choose a conservation photo story on location (including day rate and travel), under direct mentorship from the Ocean Storytelling Grant team. Apply by October 13.
  • Applications are open for the Aurora Tech Award 2024. The Award is an annual global prize for women founders of tech startups. Winners of the first prize get $30,000, the second prize gets $20,000 and the third prize gets $10,000. Apply by December 1.

Written by – Faith Omoniyi & Mariam Muhammad

Edited by – Timi Odueso

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