Evaluation of Women-led Startups in Africa 2020-2022; Funding, Expansion, Growth
All it takes is a Google search for “African Women Startups” and it’s like there is a buzz around them. Few results in the search will likely include “11 rising African female founders you should know, How these women founders raised millions in a male’s world, 40 outstanding African women in tech“, and a whole lot more.
Going by the plain view of the search result, women-led startups are thriving, at least they get the attention of the media. According to article titles they are scaling heights and changing the narrative in the African ecosystem, what a day to witness, isn’t it?
Yet with an in-depth look at the realities of women-led startups, are they really thriving as much as the media tries to depict? in a man’s world are enough women climbing the success ladder as much as we are told they are?
It is quite understandable that success can be subjective, as Sarah Centrella once said, “Success is personally defined. It’s subjective and it’s what YOU decide it will be.” Yet in a world where attention is directed towards certain features and characteristics, and eventually labelled a success by the majority, it is only right and appropriate to categorize success in that light.
In retrospect, the ecosystem has often tagged events such as fundraising, expansion, new product lines and partnerships as the path to a startup’s growth. It is only right that African women-led startups should be reviewed for their progress in at least a few of the stated factors.
In 2020, Briter bridges conducted a gender demographic study in the ecosystem, in its reports, it recognized deals varying between Three Thousand US dollars ($3000) and Two Hundred Thousand US dollars ($200,000,000) from the month January year 2019 till the month of April year 2020.
It recorded Thirty-Seven (37) startups as beneficiaries of the deals of which at least one of them had a woman co-founder, which was equivalent to 13.4% of the beneficiaries, meanwhile, the study recorded that only 5% of the beneficiaries were fully women-led. The report clearly revealed how sidelined women-led startups were when funding was concerned in early 2020. The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) disclosed that African women faced hardship when it came to raising funds for their businesses.
In 2021, it seemed women-led startups were beginning to get the aid and support they needed. Future Africa partnered with Iyin Aboyeji as it decided to invest One million dollars ($1 million) into women-led startups in Africa. In the same year, Catalyst Fund a startup accelerator made 5 of its 6 cohorts for the year for women-led or co-founded startups, the program included startups in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. A grant of Eighty Thousand Euros (£80,000) and an access to investor network was also attached to the program. Catalyst Fund was convinced that the project was a way to bridge the gap between the male and female-founded initiatives on the continent.
The energy from 2021, continued in 2022 As different boot camps and funding were targeted toward women-led startups. Various organizations, including women-led companies, came up with different programs to aid female-founded, co-founded and led startups in the early part of the year, an example is The Women Techsters Fellowship.
2022 Q3 launched with a lot of winning for women in the tech game, in training, cohorts, fellowships and yes, funding. In the month of August, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa announced its first Tech African Women (TAW) program. It seemed like women were finally getting to be pampered, Janngo Capital announced its first close of Sixty-Three Million US dollars ($63 million) fund to support African women.
The events were all targeted at empowering women, equipping them for certain goals, and heights to attain. however what is the essence of the preparations if there were no feats defeated, especially in funding, an aspect that women really had trouble with?
Although being one of the few startups that got funding in 2021, Lami, a Kenyan female-led startup, in August 2022, secured a seed round to the tune of Three million Seven Hundred Thousand US dollars ($3.7 million), while its was also able acquire Bluewave a fellow kenyan female led startup in the same year.
Lami is only one of the few fully women-led startups that has so far secured funding in 2022. Although the numbers are still quite low compared to men-founded startups, there has is no doubt that there been a change in fundraising.
The Bird Story Agency recently reported, “The Big Deal, shows female techpreneurs have significantly raised the share of growth funds they attract–from 52 million dollars in 2019 to 288 million dollars by the close of 2021.”
Aliging with facts and figure presented to us, we can considerably conclude that women-led startups in Africa are thriving, yet not has successful as they ought to be.
Are there other factors responsible for this? or would we still blame this on the ever ringing saying “it’s a man’s world”?, well, things will unveal itself in prefect time. In the meantime lets celebrate their little wins, their strive in an unbalanced playing field, and the consistent initiative from a ever producing gender, we hope to see more growth from them.