IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that it led the US$8.6mn Series A equity investment in Africa’s Talking, a Kenyan based communication-platform-as-a-service (“cPAAS”) API startup, to enable the startup to expand its footprint across the continent. As part of the deal, Wale Ayeni, who leads IFC’s venture capital activities in Africa, will join the boards other investors in the round including global venture capital funds Orange Digital Ventures and Social Capital. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals (including from the Communications Authority of Kenya).
Africa’s Talking’s cloud-based software platform virtualizes telco infrastructure across the continent, and provides unified access via its API (application programming interface) to a robust and growing community of more than 20,000 software developers in Africa currently serving over 1,000 fast-growing digital companies, enabling them to create real world applications faster and more efficiently.
Africa's Talking’s scalable platform enables it to service both the one-man shop as well as larger enterprises - developers, startups, large companies - to embed messaging, voice, and video communications into their apps, allowing them to better connect with their mass market customers. From SMS services that help farmers improve crop yields to voice APIs that connect women to nearby family planning clinics, Africa’s Talking’s simple APIs enable businesses to build robust and value-additive digital products.
The company is headquartered in Kenya and recently expanded to Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Nigeria. Africa’s Talking aims to create a pan-African platform that enables developers across the continent to create, grow, and sustain strong businesses using their communication solutions.
“Africa’s Talking’s platform democratizes access to critical digital infrastructure that African start-ups and businesses need to scale,” said Oumar Seydi, IFC Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nikunj Jinsi, IFC Global Head for Venture Capital, said: “IFC’s investment will help Africa’s Talking expand its integrated solution to new markets across Africa, filling a crucial gap and helping fuel the digital economy across the continent.”
“Africa’s Talking enables developers in Africa to transform their community through technology, and leveraging on IFC’s breadth of experience in Africa we will work together to catalyze our expansion and build innovative products. Together, we believe that we can build the foundation and environment that developers need to build successful African businesses,” said Samuel Gikandi, CEO and Co-Founder of Africa’s Talking.
IFC supports the mobile technology sector to help promote social inclusion and business growth. Over the past three years, IFC has invested over US$1.5bn in telecommunication, technology, and startup companies globally.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. IFC works with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, IFC delivered a record US$19.3bn in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Neha Sud (Nairobi)
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