August was an exciting month for a number of African companies, with a batch of funding rounds, acquisitions and new product offerings.
Funding and acquisitions
International voice messaging company Kirusa acquired Ghanaian instant messaging (IM) app provider Saya Mobile. Saya Mobile provides services specifically for African consumers, but Kirusa has now acquired the technology, intellectual property and workforce of the company and will put it to work on Kirusa’s mobile apps.
In another high-profile acquisition, South African e-commerce platform Takealot bought online design retailer Superbalist.com. Takealot received US$100 million in funding from Tiger Global Management in May for further expansion across Africa, and has spent part of it on Superbalist, which is a curated design online retailer, focused on the millennial generation.
South African advertising platform 8bit secured US$110,000 funding from a range of investors, as it looks to expand its reach and product offering. The company in May won funding at the Net Prophet conference’s Sparkup! “Dragon’s Den” style event from the likes of former co-chief executive officers (CEOs) of Groupon South Africa Wayne Gosling and Daniel Guasco, Martin Diessner of Evercape, early-stage angel investor Sebastian Stoddart, and founder and CEO of MentorCamp Permjot Valia.
The company also received offers of funding from Neil Emerick of Nightsbridge and Ernst Hertzog of Action Hero Ventures, taking the total round to US$110,000.
Another South African firm, electronic payment solutions for emerging markets provider Nomanini, also secured funding, raising US$450,000 from South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). It is the latest round for Nomanini, which in February raised series B investment from Seychelles-based Rockbridge Investments.
Kenyan financial tech startup Umati Capital agreed a deal with ApexPeak securing its first line of capital, which will see the latter offer a finance line commencing at US$300,000 per month but expected to grow to US$5-7 million per month before the end of 2014.
Umati looks to make the adoption of invoice discounting easy for SME farmers and multinationals with M-Trader, which has just completed a six-month pilot. The company has been seeking funding since earlier this year to expand across Kenya and reach more agriculture-related businesses.
Expansions and new product offerings
African video content platform iROKOtv.com has launched its own international content package, providing customers with access to television content from around the world. New content categories include Hollywood, Bollywood, Telenovelas and Korean programming.
E-commerce store Jumia, initially launched in Nigeria in 2012, has launched in Cameroon, taking the number of countries in which Jumia operates to nine, with the company saying the launch was prompted by the success of recent roll outs in Ghana and Uganda.
Car classifieds platform Carmudi launched in the Republic of Congo and Tanzania, bringing the company to a total of seven African countries following previous launches in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast.
Global players in Africa
An area in northern Namibian is now home to the world’s biggest television white spaces broadband pilot project, after Microsoft partnered the MyDigitalBridge Foundation and Adaptrum to test the project.
Television white spaces tap unused portions of spectrum in frequency bands in order to provide wireless broadband services, covering wide areas of space and potentially providing cheaper internet access.
It has also been rolled out by Microsoft and other partners in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa.
Big mobile players have been busy in the last month too. The Nokia X2 smartphone is now available for sale in Kenya, while LG launched its G3 smartphone in Nigeria. Meanwhile, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Tab S in the Kenyan market.
SAP announced a seven-year plan to invest up to US$500 million in Africa through 2020 in order to up-skill local African talent and drive innovation on the continent. The firm will focus most of the direct investment outside of South Africa, particularly focusing on Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and Morocco.
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