Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3m Series-A round led by Rise Capital

On-demand motorcyle ride-hailing startup Gokada has announced that it has raised a $5.3-million Series-A round led by San Francisco-based Rise Capital.

The Lagos-based startup said in a statement today that Adventure Capital, First MidWest Group, IC Global Partners, and several other unnamed local investors also participated in the round.

The startup said it will use the investment to expand its driver fleet, increase daily rides by a factor of 10 and to acquire local talent. In addition, Gokada also plans to explore new verticals for business growth.

Gokada was launched in 2018 by Fahim Saleh and Deji Oduntan

Gokada was launched last year by co-CEOs Fahim Saleh (pictured above, left) and Deji Oduntan — who will be stepping down as part of the deal.

Oduntan will be replaced by Rise Capital director and former Jobberman co-founder and CEO Ayodeji Adewunmi (pictured above, right).

The startup claimed in the statement that since launching last year, it has acquired 1000 motorcycles (or okadas as they are known locally).

These, it added, are manned by trained, insured and verified drivers equipped with US Department of Transportation approved and certified helmets.

Gokada said it has completed close to one million rides since inception and that its app has been downloaded 200 000 times.

The startup recently celebrated its first year in business with the launch of a new office in Ilupeju, Lagos which will house a driver training school to train and verify up to 500 drivers at a time.

Saleh said he wants Gokada to become the future of motorcycle transport in West Africa and that the startup is fast becoming the go-to motorcycle ride-hailing platform in Lagos.

“Today’s announcement allows us to accelerate our growth projections significantly, as we continue to grow our market share and look to introduce more product features and services,” he added.

Rise Capital founder and managing partner Nazar Yasin said Gokada’s rapid entry into Lagos’ transport market has been transformative.

Yasin said he had noted that markets like Nigeria and Indonesia –which both have large populations and inadequate road infrastructure — are more likely to be dominated by motorcycle-hailing companies rather than traditional car-hailing players.

Said Yasin: “Gokada’s relentless focus on product, customer service, and safety has enabled them to take advantage of this dynamic and produce some truly impressive growth metrics”.

Featured image, left to right: Gokada co-CEOs Fahim Saleh and Ayodeji Adewunmi (Supplied)

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Jozi Angels Deal Day to highlight investing in startups

When you the words “tech startups” in South Africa come to mind, many still picture the city of Cape Town and the surrounding winelands. But Johannesburg is coming up quick.

It’s why angel investor network Jozi Angels will next month host the inaugural Jozi Angels Deal Day, which will take place in Sandton on 12 June.

Since it was founded in 2015 by Abu Cassim the network’s current 24 angel investors have made 38 investments together. The average investment is about R700 000. The network has not had any exits thus far.

Cassim told Ventureburn in an email that the aim of the day is to create awareness around angel investing and what he calls “the good work being done in the local startup ecosystem”.

“Events like this bring the community together and add to the profile of the Joburg startup scene,” he added.

Jozi Angels Deals Day will create awareness around angel investing

The event is exclusively open to invitees only as capacity is limited, but Cassim pointed out that those who are interested to attend can still enquire about doing so by visiting this link. Startups interested in pitching can do so at this link.

Cassim said while angel investing is a growing segment of the market, it hasn’t seen the explosion of interest as the venture capital (VC) sector has seen in the country, following the updates to section 12J of the Income Tax Act.

“Annual invested angel capital is roughly six percent of the VC market which means we’ve got a lot of headroom to grow in to and consequently opportunity for those involved,” he said.

But he reckons things are changing, particularly with an increase in the number of interested black investors looking to become angels.

Said Cassim: “We’re starting to see a more representative demographic split in angel investing enquiries and will be promoting diversity at the event. This will ultimately result in a broader investor base, more investment diversity and a healthier ecosystem.”

The inaugural Jozi Angels Deal Day will take place on 12 June, from 12pm to 5pm at Bowmans’s Sandton offices.

Read more: Jozi Angels wants R8m return from R400k invested per startup [Q&A]
Read more: Jozi Angels made 15 investments worth R6m in last 3 years – Abu Cassim

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FbStart Accelerator graduates raise over $400k after hitting traction

The inaugural cohort of Lagos-based FbStart Accelerator raised over $400 000 in grants and investments during the programme, after their ideas received some initial traction.

So, says Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) incubation unit director Damilola Teidi.

The $400 000 includes $250 000 that agritech startup Vestark won in last year’s Google Impact Challenge (see this story) for a mobile app that according to Teidi is on track to being used by veterinary schools across Nigeria.

CcHub, which runs the programme in partnership with Facebook, recently put out a call for applications for this year’s programme, which now also accepts Ghanaian student teams. Applications close on 30 June.

The participants of the six-month long programme, which kicked off last August at NG_Hub — which hosted over 526 events which were attended by over 11 000 attendees in its first year.

The $250k that Vestark won in last year’s Google Impact Challenge forms part of the $400k that the FbStart Accelerator cohort raised

The FbStart cohort may well have raised well in excess of $400 000, as Teidi declined to disclose whether any of the teams had secured any commitments for investment from investors during the accelerator’s demo day held on 12 April (check out the video below).

Teidi said some of the startups were still in conversation with investors. She however pointed out that there were more than 10 conversations that were set up with prospective investors and corporate partners as an offshoot of the demo day.

The cohort — which comprised 15 teams of Nigerian students and startups — focused on research and mentorship around deep tech solutions, namely in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), the Internet of Things (IoT) and data science.

‘From prototypes to market’

Teidi said a highlight of the programme included student teams having developed projects from ideas into working prototypes.

She added that in some instances, some of these student teams even got their prototypes to market.

The programme, she said, also exposed participating startups to over 200 local and international executives through an Innovation Showcase Week which took place over three days in February and March this year.

Teidi singled out one team, DeepQuest AI, which spent the time during the programme completing the development of its commercial product during the programme and had acquired over 5000 installs for their beta version.

The startup, which she said had originally aimed for 100 installs, has now launched their product globally.

Another team, Gricd, created a unique cold-chain device designed for the portable transportation of temperature-sensitive items.

The device, Teidi said, is being used by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. She added that the startup is also in the process of signing sales contracts and partnerships with other key stakeholders.

Then there’s student team Treplabs, which has developed the Realdrip system which prevents back flow of blood during drip treatment by monitoring flow rate, volume administered and automating the process.

Teidi said the team came into the accelerator with a rough prototype and a dream to solve a huge problem and save lives. “They now have a working product that is set to undergo clinical trials,” she added.

Not bad going. So, what’s in store for those that will take part in the second cohort?

Read moreCo-Creation Hub announces participants of inaugural FbStart Accelerator cohort
Read more: Facebook to take on Google in Nigeria with new hub, $20 000 accelerator
Read more: ‘Facebook $20k grants via NG_Hub to tackle Nigeria’s innovation gap’ [Q&A]

Featured image: Members of FbStarts inaugural cohort (Supplied)

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Here’s how you can tap German investor Allianz X’s €1bn fund

Are you running a growth-stage company that’s part of the insurance industry? Then you could just be the kind of firm that German investor Allianz X is looking to back with its €1-billion fund.

Earlier this month Allianz X, the digital investment unit of German financial services company Allianz Group, announced that it had invested in Ugandan ride-hailing startup SafeBoda.

The deal was the fund’s first investment in an African-based company.

Allianz X corporate development director Oliver Ullrich (pictured above) told Ventureburn in an email on Tuesday (21 May) that given that it forms part of Allianz Group, Allianz X seeks to invest in innovative digital growth companies linked to the insurance sector.

Allianz X is looking to back growth-stage digital companies around the world with its €1bn fund

This includes solutions or products in connected property, connected health, wealth management and retirement, mobility, data intelligence, as well as cybersecurity.

“We have a global investment mandate and are interested in growth-stage companies from across Africa,” said Ullrich.

Ticket sizes, he said, depend on the type of opportunity, strategic relevance to the wider digital insurance ecosystem as well as the needs and maturity of the company.

He said that beyond its investment mandate, Allianz X also actively supports the exploration of joint business opportunities between existing Allianz entities and its investment companies.

Turning to its deal with SafeBoda, he said Allianz X is looking forward to collaborating with Allianz Africa and the startup’s team to improve access for Africans to financial services, including insurance for millions of potential customers.

Earlier this month Safeboda co-CEO Alastair Sussock said the startup was excited to have Allianz X join its investor group as the company is looking to add fintech services for both its drivers and passengers (see this story).

In his email this week, Ullrich explained that being a ride-hailing platform, SafeBoda falls within Allianz X’s mobility ecosystem focus.

He said the investment arm learnt of the investment opportunity from within its investors network and “got involved”.

Allianz has a significant footprint on the continent, the company currently operates in 17 African countries and serves customers in 39 African markets.

Ullrich said investing in startups is a two-way process for the late-stage investor.

“We actively scout companies using our network and at conferences, and also welcome digital, growth-stage companies to approach us directly at,” he added.

He pointed out that in addition to SafeBoda, Allianz X has also invested in Swedish micro-insurance firm Bima.

The insurtech was founded in 2010 and uses mobile tech to deliver insurance and health products to under-served consumers in emerging markets — including Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania.

Read moreGerman investor Allianz X chooses Uganda’s SafeBoda as its first African investment

Featured image: Allianz X corporate development director Oliver Ullrich (Supplied)

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Student Entrepreneurship Week in Ghana to offer participants up to $10k in investment

Young African tech entrepreneurs stand the chance to win up to $10 000 in investment at July’s Student Entrepreneurship Week which will take place in Accra, Ghana in July.

Accra-based education company Stars From All Nations (SFAN) is the organiser behind the initiative, which aims to help young African entrepreneurs access funding and learn how to build sustainable businesses.

Applications to attend the event close on 30 June.

Applications to attend Student Entrepreneurship Week close on 30 June

SFAN president and founder Tom-Chris Emewulu (pictured above) told Ventureburn in an email on Monday (20 May) that investors like Toro Orero’s artificial intelligence (AI) venture building company QI Holdings are looking to invest up to $10 000 in high potential student-led ventures that will pitch at the event.

“Other investors like Ingressive, GreenTec Capital, Chanzo Capital, and more are interested to join the one-on-one investor pitch session,” added Emewulu.

The event is organised under the theme “Unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of young Africans for job creation”, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development goals 1, 4 and 8.

Attendees of the event will get the chance to meet with mentors, investors, corporates, community leaders and startup entrepreneurs.

Featured image: SFAN president and founder Tom-Chris Emewulu (SFAN via Twitter)

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Taking your African tech startup global [Opinion]

There are several stories of SA and African companies successfully taking their products and services to the global market.

However, African entrepreneurs have to overcome various financial, legal and regulatory challenges in order to take advantage of these potentially lucrative overseas markets.

Most high-growth businesses being built today consist of people, technology and intellectual property (IP) that can in theory be easily exported to other markets where their products and services are needed.

However, several countries, including South Africa, have exchange controls and restrictions limiting the movement of assets to other jurisdictions. Assets cover not just physical items, but intangible assets that could include patents, trademarks, software code, licences and rights to an income stream.

HAVAÍC ‘s investment thesis is centred around investing in African tech startups with the potential to scale internationally

In South Africa, the exchange control regulations are in place to monitor and control the flows of capital and assets into and more importantly, out of the country.

The regulations require SA companies to apply for approval to externalise or expand their businesses into other markets and to pay any arising fees or taxes.

In the technology sector, companies that have developed a software or hardware product which has global application, would at some point wish to consider externalising their IP for the following reasons:

  • Patents and trademarks should be registered in the countries where the products or services are being offered in order to provide the necessary legal protections against copycats and competitors.
  • It is easier to raise further rounds of funding from the same markets where the product or service is being successfully sold or from a capital market that has funding for that industry.
  • There is far less friction with a future sale or initial public offering (IPO or listing) of the business if it is domiciled in an investor-friendly jurisdiction or is in the same country as the potential acquirer or stock exchange

It is important to note that a SA company should only apply for approval to move its IP offshore if most or all of its clients are offshore (outside SA and the common monetary area).

Without a valid business reason such as this, the SA authorities could view this as a mere attempt to avoid the country’s tax and regulatory system.

While it can be seen as a long and complicated process, HAVAÍC has successfully assisted a few portfolio companies with the offshoring process and the good news is that it is not as daunting or as expensive as you might think.

What is important is that the right advisors are engaged early on and the myriad of factors are considered before commencing.

One of these factors and a crucial point to consider is that by moving the IP offshore, effective management of the business must also be moved, thus bringing with it higher ongoing operating costs.

However, with good planning, the right advice and the correct composition of the company’s management, advisory and executive (board of directors) teams, the higher associated costs could be minimised.

HAVAÍC ‘s investment thesis is centred around investing in local technology businesses with the potential to scale internationally, and our investor returns will be realised either through future international funding rounds or an international sale, the locations of the IP and effective management are major investment considerations – even for early stage businesses.

Thus, we have set up a structure in an offshore jurisdiction that is tax efficient for our investors, recognised and trusted by international investors and is business friendly. In addition, we have built a panel of international advisors who represent us on the boards of our portfolio companies, which adds significant experience.

To conclude, it is important for both founders and investors alike to remember that while tax is often a primary consideration, the rationale for moving and where to domicile IP should be driven by business strategy and future value creation.

Therefore, whether a local or international structure is appropriate should be based on sound commercial principles.

Read more: What startups should know about tax, when setting up an overseas company
Read more: How to structure functions and operations across your international group
Read more: Here’s how SA startups can legally create an offshore company
Read more: The ins and outs of taking your startup offshore

Grant Rock is a founding partner of HAVAÍC, a Cape Town based venture capital company.

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NG_Hub celebrates first birthday by sharing impact figures [Infographic]

Today marks one year since Facebook opened its Lagos-based NG_Hub to the public.

NG_HUb, which Facebook opened in partnership with social innovation centre CoCreation Hub (CcHub), is a space for collaboration which the firm created as a part of its ongoing commitment and investment in Nigeria’s startup ecosystem.

The flagship hub space plays host to several programmes that include the FbStart Accelerator, Digify Africa, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)  meetups, as well as #SheMeansBusiness.

NG_Hub has delivered 526 events with over 11 490 attendees

Over the last year, the hub — with partners across Nigeria — has hosted a number of training sessions and events that aim to equip individuals and businesses grow.

In a statement today Facebook said the hub has run 526 events with over 11 490 attendees for programmes such as AR/VR meetups, the FbStart Accelerator programme, Facebook Community Leaders Community meetings and Developer Circle gatherings.

In addition, the space has helped train over 50 800 small businesses in digital skills across 20 states in Nigeria. Facebook also claims the hub has supported businesses in 11 different industries, that include agriculture, catering, education and fashion.

The infographic below, from Facebook, details the impact NG_Hub has made in the last year.

Read more: Facebook to take on Google in Nigeria with new hub, $20 000 accelerator
Read more: ‘Facebook $20k grants via NG_Hub to tackle Nigeria’s innovation gap’ [Q&A]

Featured image: Facebook VP Partnerships Ime Archibong opening the launch event at NG_Hub in Lagos last year (Facebook)

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How we raised R29m in seven days via crowdfunding – Intergreatme man [Q&A]

Those in the SA tech sector are still scratching their heads wondering how SA regtech startup Intergreatme was able to raise over $2-million in just six days.

But the money is still rolling in, having now topped R29-million, barely seven days after the official launch of the campaign on Uprise.Africa.

So, how the heck did they do it?

The startup — which was founded in 2016 by Dewald Thiart, Luke Warner and James Lawson (pictured above, from left to right) — has an identity management platform which provides users with control of their identities across financial services, telecommunications and insurance (see this earlier story and this one).

By 11am today and with the campaign set to close on Friday, the startup has raised a whopping R29,025,000 from 208 investors — well over its target of R24-million, in exchange for a 20% share in the startup.

Ventureburn contacted Intergreatme CEO and co-founder Luke Warner, who responded to a number of questions via email.

What do you attribute the record fast raise to (probably the quickest raise in African equity crowdfunding history)?

It was the three years of traction we attained, the cumulative networks from all our achievements and personal relationships we built with every person from CEOs of listed entities to my daily Uber drivers, security guards and (an online domestic workers platform) SweepSouth ladies. We treat everyone equally.

We have an extremely loyal active user base of over 20 000 users, active social media pages. Engaging our users who love us. They jumped at the opportunity to invest.

We also had an exceptionally successful launch organised by Garyth (Ditchfield — the startup’s operations manager — Ed) and Tshidi Martien (also from the startup – Ed), with emotionally moving stories from each founder.

You invest in people, not businesses.

What are your immediate plans following the raise?

We will plan a party for next week, once the raise is officially closed. For now, we will take the time to ensure we help guide even the smallest investors on board.

Because we want to play our part in wealth redistribution. To reduce inequality in South Africa. As founders we have been pro UBI or Universal Basic ownership or dividends from the start, which scared away many VC firms. We want our users to own their own data and earn an income off it.

How many investors have taken part in the offering?

We have over 208 investors now, R29-million (as of 11am today — Ed), from small R1000 investments, R10 000, R100 000, R1-million and even some R5-million (amounts).

What kind of people took part in the raise?

To my knowledge, no VC firms yet. Mostly, friends, family, community, staff, people in our day-day environments and then our 20 000 loyal user base.

Some investors were CEOs of listed entities but asked to not be disclosed to the press.

The majority of the quantum, collectively was purchased by black females. So, cumulatively we have enough black female equity for a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) level-1 status now.

We’re looking forward to access some decent business now which was off limits before.

What’s your advice to other startups looking to raise equity funding via a crowdfunding platform?

Focus on your customers and users, the few that love you. Build trust and confidence by reaching milestones and keep the momentum going. It’s not about the idea, it’s about the execution and the traction.

Traction is key, it speaks for itself. Actions speak louder than words. Watch what we do, not what we say.

We believed that being around for three years, with a sufficient network and user base with ample traction was the right time to let the crowd in.

I would not recommend it early unless you’ve displayed your ability to succeed without the crowd. You need to be able to win regardless of the circumstances.

How will these 208 or more shareholders keep tabs and hold Intergreatme accountable?

We have an independent board member representing the crowd and protecting their rights.

The nominated board member is Brenda Kali (see here LinkedIn profile here).


  • We will be attending the Conscious Companies Awards again tonight for the third year in a row.
  • We will aim for a monthly newsletter.
  • We will have our normal quarterly board meetings (Share summary via email)
  • We will have our normal annual general meeting (AGM) as per the companies act in SA.
  • We normally have a quarterly stakeholder party for all involved, a few hours after our quarterly board meeting.
  • We provide a stakeholder update, its only scheduled from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. But somehow ends up ending at 2am.
  • We’ve built a loyal, trusting and fun community.

Read more: SA’s Intergreatme sets Africa crowdfunding record with over R28m raised in just days
Read more: SA regtech Intergreatme out to raise R24m through crowdfunding site Uprise.Africa

Featured image (from left to right): Intergreatme founders Dewald Thiart, Luke Warner and James Lawson pictured at the official launch of the startup’s equity crowdfunding offering on 15 May (Facebook)

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Ivory Coast’s AJE, Seedstars open applications for incubation programme

Are you an Ivorian entrepreneur with a solution or project in the agriculture or ICT sector?

Ivory Coast’s Youth Employment Agency, the Agence Emploi Jeune (AJE), and Seedstars, a Swiss-based organisation that supports startups in emerging markets, have opened applications for a six month incubation programme.

The programme is an initiative of Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Youth Promotion and Employment and aims to support startups in the ICT and agriculture sectors to develop their solutions.

The incubation programme, which will take place at Seedspace Abidjan, kicks off next month and runs until November. Applications for the programme close on 2 June.

AJE’s and Seedstars’ incubation programme is aimed at startups in the agriculture and ICT sectors

To be considered for the programme, prospective applicants must have a solution or project in the agriculture and ICT sectors that is not more than two years old.

Participants will also be selected based on their growth potential and the positive impact that their startups can generate.

In a statement yesterday (21 May), Seedstars academy manager Fanny Dauchez said the programme will help young Ivorian entrepreneurs who want to launch their projects.

Those selected for the programme will benefit from weekly training sessions that were developed by entrepreneurs and experts from around the world. These include technical modules in excel and digital marketing.

In addition to online courses, participants of the programme will also receive free office space and mentoring sessions.

Up to 20 entrepreneurs have participated in the programme.

Past participant, Aladain founder Archangel Brou, said in the same statement that he found the programme’s courses “very interactive and well delivered”.

Said Brou: “The programme is an opportunity to have access to quality training as it is normally expensive to benefit from it otherwise. I look forward to learn more”.

Featured image: Seedstars Abidjan

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SA’s Intergreatme sets Africa crowdfunding record with over R28m raised in just days

SA regtech startup Intergreatme has set what looks sure to be an African crowdfunding record, by raising over R28-million, just six days after the official launch of the campaign on Uprise.Africa.

The startup — which was founded in 2016 by James Lawson, Dewald Thiart and Luke Warner (pictured above) — has an identity management platform which provides users with control of their identities across financial services, telecommunications and insurance.

By 3pm today and with 53 days left of its campaign, Intergreatme had raised R28,479,000 from 165 investors — well over its target of R24-million, in exchange for a 20% share in the startup.

The startup details in its prospectus that it is allowing investors to invest a further R8-million for another five percent equity.

Uprise.Africa CEO Tabassum Qadir has called the Intergreatme campaign a record for African crowdfunding

While Intergreatme business operations head Garyth Ditchfield said the startup would not be issuing any comment on the raise, until tomorrow morning — Uprise.Africa CEO Tabassum Qadir called the raise a record for African crowdfunding.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that we have hit a record in equity crowdfunding in Africa for the fastest raise ever,” commented Qadir via Whatsapp earlier today.

She said the campaign is still open and would run until this Friday (24 May).

When the campaign closes, the startup would likely only receive the investment 30 days later, after the various prospectus have been filed and agreements with the various shareholders signed, she explained in a subsequent call to Ventureburn.

Qadir pointed out that while the startup had raised about 10% of the amount or R2.8-million in a 14-day private offering before the official launch of the campaign on 15 May (not 14 May as earlier reported by Ventureburn), about R25-million of the figure had been raised from investors within the first 72 hours of the official launch (see this story).

The largest commitment from any one investor was R5-million, the maximum permissible amount a single investor could put in. Investors had to invest at least R1000. She would not disclose who had committed the R5-million.

Why have some crowdfunding campaigns succeeded where others have not?

Qadir said it came down to those seeking the investment basically having a good social media and marketing strategy. “You can be ready for investment, but not ready for crowdfunding,” she added.

Having raised R28-million in lightening time, other startups might ask themselves — do they really need the help of venture capitalists?

Read more: SA regtech Intergreatme out to raise R24m through crowdfunding site Uprise.Africa

Featured image: Intergreatme co-founder Luke Warner (via Twitter)

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