2016 has come and gone but the memories will not be forgotten in such a hurry, especially as it concerns the startup landscape in Nigeria and across the
There were August visitors, fund raisers, new products/features launch, new funds launch,
smart hires (and unfortunate fires), meetups, startup failures, startup competitions, pivots
and what have you. Indeed, 2016 was full of activities!
More importantly, 2016 saw the launch of new startups with the aim of using technology to tackle the many problems
faced on the continent. This post highlights the startups we think are the most interesting and have huge potentials.
FLUTTERWAVE – Nigeria
Although a lot of progress has been made in terms of online payments in Nigeria and
across Africa, existing solutions haven’t totally done justice to the problem – businesses still face an uphill task accepting
payments online, especially those coming from outside Africa. Flutterwave was launched to solve this problem, and more, and in an easy manner too!
Through Flutterwave’s infrastructure (inclusive of its easy-to-integrate APIs),
merchants, payment service providers (PSPs) and banks are able to accept payments from
anyone across the world irregardless of the payment instrument used – it could be
Mastercard, Visa, JCB, Dinners or MPesa, or even mobile money wallets.
Before it was even officially launched, Flutterwave had processed more than US$20
million for clients that includes Uber Nigeria, Access Bank, Paystack, and Page Microfinance.
After official launch, Flutterwave was on the news countless times. It received funding
from Cactus Capital, launched a payment solution and money transfer service, was named among the first members of HiPo (short for High Potential) Network and partnered Stellar Network to support cross-
border payments to M-Pesa.
All these are testaments to the fact that Flutterwave, which is currently live in Nigeria,
Ghana and Kenya, and plans to launch across Africa as time goes by, has huge potential.
Thanks to its technology, online businesses on the continent have one less thing to worry
about and that’s processing payments, something that’s hugely important to them.
FRONTDESK – Nigeria
Launching an online business (or taking your offline business online) is still pretty difficult
in these parts – you have to worry about domain name, web host, web developer, how
to accept payments, et al. FrontDesk was launched to make the whole process easy as
Its mission is to create and empower 10 million African entrepreneurs in the next 10
years by providing them the tools and resources needed to grow their businesses online, and this it has been gradually doing since launch.
Thanks to FrontDesk, small businesses across the continent are now able to quickly and easily create a simple, secure website to showcase and sell their products and/or services and even accept payments from
anyone across the world.
It also launched #SeeMyHustle, a ₦1 million entrepreneurship contest for businesses
launched using the platform – keeping its promise of funding/investing in businesses (those launched using its platform, of course) it considered cool and impressive.
The inaugural edition of the competition was won by SociaLiga , a social football league.
Its FrontDesk website amassed over 1.3 million in sales, 2,186 unique visits, 7,700 page views and a 4.8 page rating during the
course of the competition. SociaLiga also got free publicity of Linda Ikeji’s Blog, Bella Naija,
FrontDesk’s impact has been massive since launch. Thousands of businesses, many of which wouldn’t have thought of having an online store or presence so easily, have
signed up and done countless number of sales – testimonies are everywhere.
And the sweetest part of the whole story: Without any form of marketing, FrontDesk
was on track to do (yet another) 20% month- on-month growth after just 6 days into
December 2016. Justo!!!
FLARE – Kenya
In Kenya, many lives have been lost due to the haphazard manner in which emergency
response services operate. As if getting an ambulance isn’t a problem of its own, one has to contend with pricing, quality, et al.
Flare was launched to solve this problem. Privately-owned ambulance companies are
all fitted into one place, Flare that is, so they can be easily accessed by patients and
hospitals via smartphones in times of emergencies.
Called Uber for ambulance, Flare has features to allow for tracking of ambulances when they’re in transit, when they arrive their
locations and when the job is done.
To ensure ambulances are in top shape, available when needed and prices are not neck-breaking, several mechanisms have been put in place.
2016 was splendid for the app, which was created by Capsule Limited . It got accepted into Merck’s equity-free accelerator program for digital health startups, where it raised funds and received expert coaching and mentorship.
Significantly, it raised US$100,000 from two
American angel investors, and an extra US $50,000 from another angel investor. It was
also a finalist in the AppsAfrica Innovation Awards.
Just like Kenya, most countries in Africa don’t have a well-organized emergency
response system in place. That sector needs some sanity and that’s exactly what Flare
brings to the table, and we believe great things will happen as a result.
BUYCHAT – Nigeria
Conversational Commerce isn’t an entirely new term – it was coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in a 2015 Medium article – but it’s been popularized in these parts by Balogunmarket.ng , an online platform for Balogun Market traders, through BuyChat.
One thing is common with public markets in Nigeria (and by extension Africa); haggling.
It’s not an uncommon sight to see a buyer trying to purchase a product from a seller at a price he/she considers reasonable – one which is lower than the original price set by the seller.
BuyChat is essentially a replica of a typical African market. On BuyChat, buyers meet sellers in their “stores”, check out their
products, agree on a reasonable price and buy. Payments is done within the app and there’s delivery service too!
Beyond this, BuyChat also allow customers buy from restaurants, book short stays in hotels, book local flights, find popular brands
and do so much more, all within the app.
Through BuyChat Assistants, which was launched in partnership with Stutern, 24
hours support service is provided to merchants on the app. These assistants
aren’t bots – they’re humans. They earn real money for helping merchants, and customers
alike, on the app.
What BuyChat is offering has never been done in these parts. It’s an audacious move; a
shift away from the norm capable of changing how e-commerce is done on the
This explains why several merchants, especially those in Balogun Market, have signed up and are doing business in ways
they never thought possible.
BuyChat has secured funding from Lagos based private investment firm Niche Capital,
and reports have it that its founder(s) interviewed with Y Combinator for a place in
its 2017 Winter funding cycle.
TRESS – Ghana
Where do women go to when they seek the next hair style to rock? They’ll most likely go
to the salon – apparently where hair is styled – and scan through their collections. Or they’ll just use Google. Right?
Both methods will eventually give them what they seek but at what cost? The salon may
have only a few hairstyle collections, and scanning through thousands of images on
Google isn’t totally cool. There should be a better, less stressful way!
That way is Tress . Tress ensures that women have a one-stop shop for their hairstyle
needs. The Tress app contains hairstyles complete with details such as products used, name of salon/stylists and their location, and price range.
Women can also share their favourite hairstyles and receive compliments and hair care secrets from a supportive community.
The hair of a woman, among other things, helps to accentuate her beauty. So much attention and money – the global black
haircare industry was at a time valued at over US$500 billion – is given to, and spent on, it.
This is why Tress is an important solution for
the women folks. Unlike most salons’ collections, Tress contains thousands of up-
to-the-minute hairstyles, and unlike Google, they are very relevant and detailed.
Its importance has been noticed in faraway Silicon Valley. Y Combinator accepted the startup into its 8 weeks Fellowship Program, providing funds and advice from its vast community.
FARMCROWDY – Nigeria
So much money is spent on the importation of agricultural products into the country and
this isn’t healthy, what with the sheer amount of arable land we have and an army of able-bodied youths and young men to
As such, there has been calls for more Nigerians to go into Agriculture, which singlehandedly sustained the country in the past, to help reduce import spend and further
put food on our tables.
However, it appears people, especially those in urban areas across the country, aren’t
heeding this call. Why? Reasons are aplenty but some people cannot just leave their well-
paying Gen X jobs to grow potatoes in some remote farm in only God knows where.
This is where Farmcrowdy comes in. Using technology, Farmcrowdy provides a new way
for Nigerians to participate in Agriculture.
How does it work? Those who have the means can provide funds through Farmcrowdy which is used to sponsor a
farmer to farm in one farming cycle.
The sponsors specify what kind of farming they want done with their funds and are provided bi-weekly updates about their farm
progress including pictures and videos from the farmers. Importantly, sponsors could get
between 13 – 25% return on their original investment.
Since launch, Farmcrowdy has secured 1,272 acres of land, 52 farm sponsors, 1,511 farmers, who have used 298 acres for
farming operations, and 1,743 farm followers.
Reports have shown that if nothing is done, and urgently too, food might be hard to come
by in the coming years. Farmcrowdy is a smart way of ensuring this doesn’t happen.
The agritech startup has the potential to transform the farming industry in Nigeria.
DR CADx – Zimbabwe
Accurate diagnosis of medical images doesn’t always happen – radiologists, doctors are humans after all; they’re not
infallible – and as such patients don’t get the correct interventions. This has led to
Dr CADx, a computer aided diagnostic system, was created to help in this regard.
Using algorithms developed through state of the art deep neural networks, Dr CADx is able
to interpret/diagnose medical images more accurately. As a result, patients get the correct interventions and untimely deaths averted.
How does it work? A medical image, be it X-rays, CT Scan, et al, is sent to a doctor’s computer/tablet and the Dr CADx app is used for analysis. Within seconds, the result will be
known. It’s that simple!
Dr CADx was in the spotlight last year. It won the Zimbabwe ICT Innovators Showcase, and the Zimbabwean leg of Seedstars World , which gives it the chance to compete for US $500,000 at the global finals.
In most countries in Africa, radiologists are in short supply and existing diagnosis methods
are out of reach of many. Dr CADx will come handy. Cheap, quick and accurate diagnosis
means patients get proper care, and in time too.
PIGGYBANK – Nigeria
Everybody wants to save money for one thing or the other but we all know this requires a high dose of discipline and how many of us have those?
More often than not, we end up breaking that “Kolo” or piggy bank, or using the ATM card
to withdraw our savings. Our savings goal?
Missed, even when it was a sitter!
Piggybank.ng was launched to take the hassle off savings. It automates the whole process, ensuring you don’t have to do it
manually, saving you loads of stress in the process.
With Piggybank.ng, you set a savings target and save little amounts daily, weekly and
monthly from your debit card – this is done automatically – to achieve that target. You
can withdraw your money anytime for free on set withdrawal days. Outside those days, you pay a penalty – 5% on withdrawn amount.
The whole essence of the penalty is to deter you from withdrawing just anyhow, thereby helping you reach your savings target, which
is why you’re ‘here’ in the first place. I’m sure you understand, right?
The icing on the cake: There’s an annual 4% interest on your savings in a year – 1% per
Now, you might have trepidations about this
“online savings thingy” but don’t fret, your money is really safe. How do I know?
The platform is secure (look out for the green “https”), and because your funds are held by
Access Bank, they’re covered by the blood of Jesus PCI DSS Level 1, the highest rating in
the electronic payment processing industry,
and insured too!
Piggybank.ng is proving very popular with Nigerians and it’s so easy to see why; it has
changed the way we save. Launched only mid-2016, Piggybank.ng helped Nigerians
save ₦21 million between that time to December 2016.