There has been a slowdown in startup funding activity in 2023. Investors who once poured billions of dollars into tech ventures from across Nigeria and Africa have held more tightly to their purses. For context, Nigerian startups have raised less than $500 million this year; that’s lower than they did in the first quarter of 2022 alone ($678 million). Yet, there were deals done, and some founders have secured noteworthy financial backing. This article reviews the top 10 Nigerian startups by fundraising in 2023. While none hit the 9-figure mark, there were more than a few impressive numbers amongst the pack of closed rounds.
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This Lagos-based startup helps businesses secure and engage customers through personalized SMS, email, voice, and instant messaging channels. They are solving a communications and brand-loyalty-building problem for many SMEs and larger companies in Africa—a mission that convinced investors to draw out $3.65 million for its expansion. The round was led by Ventures Platform, with participation from FinTech Collective, Launch Africa Ventures, Nama Ventures, Aidi Ventures, and Ralicap Ventures, among others.
OnepIpe is a FinTech that enables businesses to embed payments, wallets, credit and other financial services within their value chains. Back in March, it raised a $4.8 million credit line from TLG Capital. It appears to be deploying that amount to bolster its inventory finance solution. Founded in 2019, OnePipe snapped up $3.5 million in its seed round 2 years later.
This year, startups increasingly turned to debt financing to drive their operational and expansion objectives. FairMoney, well known for its instant lending and digital banking services, took this route, with a Commercial Paper issuance that fetched it $5.4 million from institutional investors. The company says the funds raised will help with short-term liquidity needs and support its loan solution.
Traction, another firm which delivers financial and growth support services to SMEs, secured $ 6 million in a seed round announced in August. The lead investors were Ventures Platform and Multiply Partners, both of which are primarily focused on African startups. These VCs seem to have been impressed by the rapid growth of Traction’s business; according to its founding team, it has disbursed loans exceeding ₦2 billion since it was set up in 2020. They have also multiplied their revenues by a factor of 8 in just one year.
Top 10 Businesspeople in 2023
Remedial Health—$12 Million
Remedial Health is building a B2B e-commerce platform for pharmacies and hospitals in Africa. The Y Combinator-backed startup disclosed in August that it had scooped up $8 million in equity funding and $4 million in debt financing. This round was anchored by QED, a FinTech VC, and had participants such as Y Combinator, Tencent, and Gaingels. Remedial Health currently works with over 5,000 pharmacies and hospitals, 3 times its client list from 2022.
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Founded in 2017 as Kudi, a platform that aided users in making transfers and purchasing airtime, Nomba later rebranded and shifted its focus to agency banking and payments. Barely a year after it did this, it raised $30 million in a pre-series B round led by Base 10 Partners. Other investors in the round included Shopify and Helios Digital Ventures. Nomba currently serves over 300,000 businesses and processes $1 billion in monthly transactions.
Helium Health—$30 Million
Helium Health provides a variety of digital and electronic solutions to hospitals, ranging from electronic records and management systems to credit for healthcare facilities. This year, it secured $30 million in Series B funding, in a round led by AXA Investment Managers. The startup’s cofounders say this will help it expand Helium Credit, its financing solution for hospitals.
In August, LemFi announced that it had raised $33 million in Series A funding. Participating investors included Left Lane Capital (lead), Y Combinator, Zrosk, Global Founders Capital, and Oliver Tree. LemFi, a FinTech founded in 2020, enables immigrants to send, receive, hold and convert money in multiple currencies. The company intends to deploy the funding it has secured to its efforts to expand into the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Sabi helps merchants, exporters, importers, distributors, and manufacturers with the digital commerce infrastructure they need to successfully run their business operations in the contemporary age. While it’s only 3 years old, the team at Sabi says they’re already working with millions of enterprises in Africa to solve their sourcing, commodities and aggregation, and technology-backed exchange needs. That progress convinced investors to stake $38 million in its expansion over the coming years.
Moove isn’t a stranger to table-topping funding success. In 2022, it secured a total of $181 million, placing it just behind Flutterwave on the list of highest fundraises for that year. The $76 million round it managed in 2023 isn’t as much, but it was enough to get it to the peak of our year-end list. The mobility FinTech, which provides vehicle financing to ride-hailing drivers, garnered a mix of equity and debt from investors such as Mubadala Investment Company and Blackrock. Moove is operational in 13 cities across Africa, Asia, and Europe, and plans to use its latest funding to strengthen its hold on these markets.
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Compared to what went on in previous years, 2023 hasn’t exactly been an easy year for startups looking to raise funds. With little enthusiasm shown by investors for supposedly innovative tech, founders and their teams have had to get a little more inventive in their approach to financing their ventures. Here’s hoping that the coming year brings better news for startups across Nigeria.
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Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.
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