Sehatech, one of the leading healthtech startups based in Egypt, announced that it has secured USD 850 K in funding from A15 and Beltone Venture Capital, a subsidiary of Beltone Holding Company, to drive the company’s mission of leveraging proprietary technology to digitize and automate the relationship between insurers and healthcare service providers, including claim and approval management processes, commonly known as third party administration (TPA) in the healthcare industry.
Founded in 2022 by Mostafa Tarek, Mohamed Elshabrawy and Omar Shawky, Sehatech aims to automate medical approvals, claims processing and the billing cycle, saving insurers’ time and expenses while preventing fraudulent practices. The healthtech will use the capital infusion to grow its team and invest in product development to improve user experience.
Wasoko, the Kenya-born e-commerce company digitising informal retail supply chains, is expanding its operations into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This expansion follows the startup’s recent launch in Zambia in May 2023 and is part of efforts the company say is key to its mission to drive growth for local businesses across Africa.
Wasoko has expanded its market coverage to serve small businesses in Goma, the capital of DRC’s North Kivu province. This expansion has been made possible through access to special cross-border trade zones with support from the Rwandan government, aimed at fostering regional economic integration. By doing so, Wasoko contributes to the integration of the DRC into the East African Community while supporting economic growth, job opportunities, and sustainable development, a press release shared with WT emphasises.
Wasoko’s expansion comes as a boost in contrast to the bearish sentiments that have hung over Africa’s business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce sector for much of this year. E-commerce startups operating the B2B model of serving small retailers in the last mile have been an attractive destination for investor dollars pouring into African tech over the past couple of years, raising ~USD 250 M in 2022 per WT data.
However, such businesses, despite receiving significant capital, have been forced to shrink back as a result of new dire funding realities and challenges in the markets they serve. Notable, well-capitalised players such as Twiga, MarketForce, Alerzo, and Copia, have resorted to scaling back significantly, resulting in the nixing of certain operations and layoffs that impacted hundreds of jobs. However, insiders and stakeholders maintain the sector holds vast opportunities and the recent struggles are short-term setbacks in the journey to finding optimal solutions that could prove successful long-term.
Wasoko, valued at around USD 625 M as of its last funding round, appears to be having better fortunes, having not been in the news with regards to layoffs and making good on plans revealed last year to continue its expansion into new territories in 2023.
Since its expansion into Rwanda in 2019, Wasoko’s revenues have grown significantly, from USD 2 M in its first year to USD 48 M in 2022, the company revealed. The platform currently serves over 5,000 informal retailers in Rwanda. Building on its success in Rwanda, Wasoko aims to replicate this growth for small businesses in the DRC.
Daniel Yu, Founder and Global CEO at Wasoko, highlighted the potential of the DRC’s e-commerce sector, despite infrastructural challenges. He believes that Wasoko’s cross-border logistics capabilities, established platform, and product range position the company to become a market leader in the DRC’s B2B e-commerce space. Yu also emphasizes the importance of adapting to the unique needs of the Congolese population.
Wasoko (fka Sokowatch) has leveraged technology to address supply chain inefficiencies faced by local shop owners in Africa’s informal retail sector, since launching in 2016. With a presence in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia, the company has built a network of over 220,000 informal retailers and delivered more than 5 million orders. Wasoko’s mobile app allows shop owners to purchase goods, receive real-time sales data, and access business insights. The company raised a significant USD 125 million Series B round in March 2022 and has been recognized as Africa’s Fastest Growing Company by the Financial Times.
Following its expansion into the DRC, Wasoko plans to replicate this model in other regions across Africa, strengthening its Pan-African presence and empowering local businesses while connecting consumers with a diverse range of products and services.
Philip Lucky, Acting Chief Investment Officer of Rwanda Development Board, praised Wasoko’s expansion as part of Rwanda’s successful strategy to attract investors and startups while reiterating the government’s commitment to improving Rwanda’s ICT and innovation ecosystem.
Anchor, a Nigerian banking-as-a-service (BaaS) provider, has raised USD 2.4 M in seed investment. Justin Kan’s Goat Capital led the financing round which also welcomed participation from FoundersX, Rebel Fund and some existing investors, including Y Combinator and Byld Ventures.
Anchor provides APIs, dashboards, and tools that help developers embed and build banking products such as bank accounts, funds transfers, savings products, issuing cards, and offering loans. The fintech has 270 clients (reportedly), with approximately 63 of these firms online and actively transacting on the platform. Its clientele includes fintechs, SaaS firms, e-commerce enterprises/marketplaces, and other tech-enabled businesses. The startup is also in very early discussions of exploring pan-African expansion.
AltSchool Africa, a skill-to-market edtech platform, is expanding its learning offerings to include Creative Economy and Business schools. This expansion follows an encouraging first year in which it recorded a 40 percent completion rate and aims to diversify beyond technology-related courses. AltSchool Africa will now offer content creation, sales, and music business courses, with a focus on Africa’s growing creative economy.
Co-founded by Adewale Yusuf, Akintunde Sultan, and Opeyemi Awoyemi in 2021, the platform initially focused on tech-related roles, providing training for software engineering, data science, and product design, attracting USD 1 M in pre-seed funding last year. However, with Africa’s increasing adoption of technology and the emergence of non-traditional career paths like music management and content creation, AltSchool Africa is adapting to meet the evolving needs of learners.
Notable facilitators for the Creative Economy school include Nigerian artist Falzthebahdguy (Folarin Falana), content creator Mr. Macaroni (Adebowale Adedayo), and media personality Do2dtun (Oladotun Ojuolape Kayode). The Business faculty features film director Nora Awolowo, music journalist Joey Akan, and content creator Aproko Doctor (Chinonso Egemba).
Africa’s music streaming market is rapidly growing, projected to reach USD 372.80 M in 2023, with an annual growth rate of 8.89 percent. AltSchool Africa aims to prepare learners for opportunities in this and other creative sectors.
Since its inception in 2021, AltSchool Africa has received over 50,000 applications from 83 countries and enrolled more than 20,000 learners. The platform focuses on providing accessible and engaging learning experiences for Africans, regardless of their previous education or background. With a mission to upskill Africa’s workforce, AltSchool Africa aims to empower individuals to thrive in the modern world, with course fees starting from USD 100.
The expansion, a statement shared with WT emphasises, aligns with the growing need for upskilling initiatives in Africa, as over 90 percent of youths in the 15-24 age group are part of the informal sector with low pay due to a lack of relevant skills. AltSchool Africa aims to prepare learners for quality job prospects in a rapidly changing job market, with an emphasis on creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
“As someone who joined AltSchool Africa from the University of Texas, I understand the significance of an upskilling platform like AltSchool in preparing individuals for career success – locally and internationally. The AltSchool curriculum is designed to cater to learners of all levels, from beginners to experts, who possess a natural curiosity and a drive to solve problems,” reckons Dr. Ademola Akinrinola, Director of Curriculum and Learning Experience Design at AltSchool Africa,
In the last two years, AltSchool Africa boasts nearly 3 million hours of training for tech roles, including software engineering, data science, and product design. Its newly-added programs are focused on non-traditional careers beyond the technology field, and are designed to provide a comprehensive and experiential upskilling platform for aspiring learners looking to forge careers in other growing sectors.
With the ongoing adoption and expansion of technology on the continent, Africa has witnessed a burgeoning interest in its creative economy. As a result, a new wave of nonconformist career paths has emerged (for example, music management, content creation, and influencer marketing). This shift in thinking has enabled young people to reimagine their goals as well as career prospects outside of technology; with AltSchool positioning for a new era in learning for the continent.
Speaking on the launch and call for applications, Co-Founder and CEO of AltSchool Africa, Yusuf, said, “Our goal is to create a fun and communal learning platform for all Africans to develop their skills, regardless of their previous education or background. Our unique teaching methods have proven successful in helping our learners better retain information, demonstrating that we understand the complexities of how online education works.”
Rachel Onoja, Head of Operations at AltSchool Africa shared, “We are committed to providing our learners with a fun, informative, and accessible learning experience. We believe that our learners should feel a sense of belonging as they learn in communities and that their time with us should be a profitable investment in their future”.
Nairobi-based Kotani Pay, a crypto payments startup with a vision to make cross-border remittances easier for the large underbanked populations in Africa, has closed a USD 2 M pre-seed funding round led by P1 Ventures, with participation from a number of investors including DCG/Luno and Flori Ventures. The startup plans to use the funding to further expand to Rwanda, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Kotani has built a middleware connecting blockchains to local payment networks, many of which let users send money on feature phones without the internet using a communication protocol called Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). Kotani also allows users to “on-ramp,” or convert their local currencies into USD, a solution that’s tailored more to businesses at the moment but could open to retail users in the future with the required licenses. Some of its major crypto partners include Yellowcard, DCG, Fonbank, Celo’s Valora, Mercy Corps, UNICEF Crypto Innovation Fund and Stellar.