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The number of women founders and co-founders in Africa is on the rise, according to research by Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A) an online community for startups. In 2019 that number was still just at 18%, that’s fewer than one in five—but it’s still better than in supposedly more “advanced” hubs like Silicon Valley.

Fortunately, African hubs don’t have to replicate the flaws of more mature markets and several exceptional female African leaders in the tech and finance space are taking matters into their own hands.

Fatoumata Ba, a 2019 Quartz Africa Innovator, has spent the last decade as an entrepreneur and executive building digital businesses and understands the challenges for Africans raising funds for their startups on the continent. Ba, who’s originally from Senegal, was the founding head of Jumia in Abidjan but most recently has launched Janngo Capital.

This month, she raised €15 million ($16.5 million) from the European Investment Bank as a key step in her team’s target of closing a €60 million fund in the first quarter of 2020. The fund which focuses on early stage through growth stage startups.

It aims to be the largest pan-African VC fund able to deploy capital across the gamut from seed through growth stage, says Ba. She argues this is key because “the toughest thing about building a startup is actually starting up.” Ba also points to the 70% failure rate in the first two years globally and intends to have a very hands-on approach to help investees pilot and de-risk their business models. Janngo Capital isn’t waiting till the fund closes and has already quietly invested in three startups which are still a very early stage and to be disclosed at a later date.

Crucially, Ba and her team are 60% female with plans for 50% of its portfolio to be founded, co-founded or directly benefit women. “This is critical and was an essential part of my motivation to take a leap of faith and become an investor myself,” she says.

Ba is not alone, of course, in focusing on the paucity of backing for female founders. Last year, Alitheia Capital launched a gender fund led by veteran investor Tokunboh Ishmael with a target of between $75 million to $100 million for women entrepreneurs.

“Female fund managers are also more likely to invest in and have access to top female founders, through their networks that male fund managers may not have access to,” explains Barbara Iyayi, a fintech growth equity investor. “These expanded networks give rise to more opportunities that increase the quality of deal flow and opportunities to make strong returns, particularly in Africa “where the diamonds in the rough” are not easily noticeable.”

Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor


Jumia’s Cameroon exit could be the first step to shrinking its beleaguered e-commerce business. Months after its landmark IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, Jumia, the largest e-commerce operator in Africa, has shuttered its operations in Cameroon, Amindeh Blaise Atabong reports from Yaounde. The move comes after a recent earnings call which suggests Jumia is yet to find a winning e-commerce formula on the continent.

Here’s everything you need to know about African fintech right now. Africa-focused financial technology startups are the tech rave of the moment, receiving more investment than other sectors in the last three years. Yomi Kazeem explains the key trends in the sector from mobile money and digital payments to regulatory red flags and concerns around the perils of digital lending.

The return of migrants from Europe is causing problems for The Gambia. The migration of young Africans to Europe over the past decade has had recurring ripples in tiny Gambia. The decision to sanction the deportation of young Gambians from Europe is starting to have deep political implications for the already embattled government of Adama Barrow.

As resistance to anti-malarial drugs spreads, these scientists are racing to stem the tide. Around 90% of malaria-related deaths occur in Africa with young children and pregnant women among the most vulnerable. Here 2017 Quartz Africa Innovator Kelly Chibale and Richard Gordon write about their collaboration between the University of Cape Town and a Swiss non-profit to produce noteworthy results.

The uncomfortable link between smartphones and sports betting with Africa’s youth. The rise of smartphone penetration in Africa has been welcomed with open arms by policy makers, security officials and business leaders. But new research appears to support growing concerns smartphones have made it too easy for young Africans to become addicted to gambling.


Chinese interest in African fintech stepped up another gear this week. OPay, the digital payments service operating in Nigeria, raised $120 million in a Series B round led mainly by Chinese investors but including familiar names from Silicon Valley, Sequioaand IDG Ventures as well as Japan’s Softbank Ventures. The new funding round, which takes OPay’s total funding raise in the last five months to $170 million, will be deployed to launch operations in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. It also comes after PalmPay,another China-backed fintech startup operating in Nigeria, raised $40 million in a seed round…Xecced Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm, is dedicating a $100 million Africa-focused fund to back startups on the continent developing artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing solutions. Investment tickets will range from $500,000 to $5 million...Samasource, the San Francisco-headquartered AI training data provider, raised $14.8 million in a Series A round led by Ridge Ventures, Social Impact Ventures, Bestseller Foundation, and Bluecrest Limited Capital. The company has offices in Kenya and Uganda and is the largest AI and data annotation employer in East Africa.


A fossil fuel-powered future for Africa will come at a drastic human cost. Despite the growing availability of renewable energy sources, current evidence suggests fossil fuels will remain the primary energy source on the continent—at a high cost. Fossil fuel emissions from power plants and vehicles alone are projected to result in nearly 50,000 annual deaths on the continent by 2030.


One woman is trying to revive Nigeria’s textile industry. Up until the 1980s, Nigeria’s cotton and textile industry was the largest in Africa, with up to 180 mills employing nearly half a million people, today it’s a shadow of its former self. Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion Week, is looking beyond the glamour of her flagship event and is on a mission to return the Nigerian textile industry to its glory years finds Vogue Australia.

South Africa’s anti-African hate runs from the highest levels of government to the grassroots. Life-threatening xenophobic attacks against black African migrants in South Africa’s townships have flared up intermittently since 2008 and often been described by local politicians as spontaneous. But Bloomberg‘s Anthony Sguazzin finds even top South African politicians on the national stage—in a bid to appeal to supporters—have used language and hints that shift the blame for economic problems on to migrants.

Remembering how Berlin’s 1884 conference divided Africa. The infamous Berlin Conference which decided the political fate of Africa, started on Saturday Nov. 15, 1884 and including a short break for Christmas and the New Year, the West African Conference of Berlin would last 104 days, ending on Feb. 26, 1885. For Al Jazeera, Patrick Gathara looks through the history books to recount how the late 19th-century European Scramble and Partition of Africa played out.


XPRIZE $10 million rainforest competition. The global non-profit XPRIZE is calling for teams to create technology capable of “identifying and cataloging” rainforest biodiversity and improve preservation. (June 30, 2020)


Making it work: Avoiding a race to the bottom in the gig economy. Gig work and side hustles are the way many workers make ends meet in economies around the world. E-commerce and social network platforms are changing what it means to work and trade online but are workers really just in a race to the bottom? Join Quartz Africa, BFA and other speakers in New York on Dec. 5 for a discussion on how we define work in a digital world.


Namibia elections (Nov 27). Namibians will vote in the country’s sixth election since its independence in 1990. Key issues in the polls will likely include high unemployment and poverty levels.

Google Startup Week in Lagos (Nov. 27). Google will host its first ever startup week in Africa connecting venture capital firms to local startups and announcing the graduation of the latest cohort from its Launchpad Accelerator.

Music In Africa Conference, Ghana (Nov 28-30). The third edition of the conference will draw music industry professionals including US pop star, Akon.

*This brief was produce while listening to Kiboko by Masauti (Kenya). [Spotify]

Our best wishes for a productive and ideas-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, ideas, African fintech shares and clean air to You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day.

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