Wave Holds Ground As African Standout Among YC’s Top Revenue Makers

By  |  May 1, 2024

Y Combinator’s annual unveiling of its top revenue-generating companies for 2024, the second list of this kind, has once again captured the attention of the global tech community. For the second consecutive year, mobile money startup Wave emerges as the lone African representative among the top-earning companies globally.

Wave’s rise to prominence in the mobile money sector has been notable, particularly in Senegal and neighbouring countries. With a valuation exceeding USD 1.7 billion and boasting over 10 million customers across six nations, Wave has demonstrated significant growth since its inception.

The company’s unique flat fee structure, charging just 1 percent on transfers, has disrupted traditional models and contributed to its rapid expansion. Despite facing challenges that led to layoffs and a possible valuation adjustment, Wave reported revenue exceeding USD 100 million in 2022, further solidifying its position as a key player in the fintech industry.

The San Francisco-based accelerator, YC, renowned for backing Airbnb, Doordash, Reddit, Coinbase and many other prominent companies named in the latest top-earners list, has over the past year put the spotlight on revenue as a core metric for gauging success in the startup world.

“Revenue is the clearest indicator of a startup’s success, and we’re excited to see so many different types of companies represented,” the accelerator notes while announcing the 2024 YC Top Companies list.

Although YC has slowed its Africa bets in its most recent batches amid tech market shakeup, its record of backing more than 80 African startups thus far—including notable names such as Paystack which was acquired by global payments giant Stripe in 2020, and IPO-chasing Flutterwave considered Africa’s top-valued startup—signals conviction in Africa’s emerging tech frontier.

As Y Combinator emphasises revenue metrics in its evaluations, Wave’s consistent presence on the list reflects Africa’s growing importance in the global tech ecosystem. While the company’s achievements are commendable, it also reflects the challenges and opportunities present in the African startup scene.

The total revenue generated in 2023 by the 48 companies named in the latest YC Top Companies list is USD 57.2 B, the startup accelerator shares, and the companies on this list are collectively valued at USD 458 B. YC also notes that the featured companies all generated above a certain threshold of revenue in 2023, adding that companies opted-in to being featured, so this isn’t fully reflective of all the YC startups that hit the threshold.

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