In a dismal year for most companies, a number of companies shone.
For example pharmaceutical companies had a fair share of the lime light, thanks to the hunt of the COVID-19 vaccine, tech companies also had a great time brought about by the working from home concept and not forgetting the retailers who opted to leverage online platforms to deliver necessities.
Some of the companies in the mentioned space or even the hardest hit were able to adjust the sails to be able to survive the storm better than others.
Here is a list of 7 companies across our four locations that we feel have been thriving in the pandemic, by sealing deals, closing funding, starting off impactful projects and ultimately recording an upward growth despite the un precedented year that has been.
CashBackApp is one of the companies that really had a great leap this year. In an interview with the co-founder Simon Ngigi, he stated that as of November, they had about 75k downloads of the App and are able to help users save on average Sh200 per shopping trip of Sh1,000 to Sh1,500 per week.
“During the year we also partnered with major manufacturers and brands who use the App to deploy offers fast and enjoy uplift in sales, access consumers insights and we also save them logistics and communication costs ordinarily associated with offers. We have also partnered with supermarkets which use the App to provide more value for their customers at zero cost to them,” he added
In the year the CashBackApp also raised pre-seed funding of Sh52 million from three international venture capital firms. This round also had participation from several angel investors based in the US, UK, Nigeria and Kenya. The company also got shortlisted for the
Fuzu, an online employment and career development platform has also had a fair share of success this year
In November, Fuzu partnered with IMF to launch a report dubbed Jobs in Lockdown: Insights from Sub-Saharan Africa. They also partnered with MTN Pulse in Uganda to support youth in Uganda with career guidance, job searching insights, and the relevant training as a way of supporting them to identify and nurture successful careers.
To top it all up, Fuzu officially set up office in Nigeria, Africa’s largest work market making it the third African country after Kenya and Uganda.
This was a great year for 14 Trees from nominations of global awards to kicking off the proptech projects. Earlier in the year, 14 Trees, built the world’s first 3D printed school, in Salima district, Malawi.
The school’s walls were printed in just 18 hours using a BOD 2 printer from Danish manufacturer COBOD, compared to several days with conventional building materials. This was the second project after they built the walls of 14Trees’ first prototype house in Lilongwe in just 12 hours, compared to almost 4 days using conventional methods.
Malawi has an estimated shortage of 36,000 classrooms, according to data from Unicef. 14Trees claims this shortfall could be eliminated in just a decade through additive manufacturing, as opposed to 70 years using conventional construction methods.
In November through the project, 14 Trees was nominated alongside their partner Climate Care as a finalist for the Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards, which is the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme that champions bold and brilliant climate leadership.
This week, 14 Trees just announced the launch of Africa’s largest 3D-printed affordable housing project in Kenya – called Mvule Gardens. Through the use of 3D Technology, the project will see 14 Trees deliver a The 3D-printed affordable housing project in Kilifi County, Kenya in partnership with the Green Heart of Kenya Development, in early 2022.
Kwara, is a platform that connects the savings cooperatives with banks, payment gateways and other third parties through an open API.
This all comes in one software-as-a-service package, meaning cooperative clients pay for their usage and get a single end-to-end solution.
Since its launch in 2018, the multi-accelerated startup already serves over 60,000 members and handles up to US$40 million in monthly transactions on its platform. With credit union clients in Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines, Kwara is growing its credit union customer base by 40 per cent month-on-month.
Kwara has now announced a US$4 million seed round secured from investors across Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States (US).
The round follows rapid sales growth, and comes in advance of the upcoming launch of its neobank app. The startup will use these funds to further develop its app in order to enable credit unions in emerging markets to digitise and bring financial services to millions of people.
“We are building a solution for people – an estimated one billion – who do not currently have access to personalised banking services. This is the result of a gap in banking-grade technology and the lack of neobank-like experiences for the end clients. We’ve been thrilled to see the excitement around the Kwara brand among credit unions and their members, which is fast becoming synonymous with a superior user experience and the future of banking,” said Kwara CEO Cynthia Wandia.
At the same time Kwara also announced a partnership with Workpay that will see the two offer SACCOs in Kenya human resource management and payroll processing solutions. The partnership will enable the SACCOs automate their HR processes as a complementary service to Kwara’s existing products i.e. Core banking, Online and Mobile banking and Open API service.
Kwara also won the best pitch at the just concluded Norrsken Impact Accelerator program. The eight-week Norrsken Impact Accelerator Program was held in Stockholm, Sweden saw Kwara emerge top, ahead of 19 other startups that participated.
At a valuation of approximately $1.5 billion, Swvl became the first $1 bn-plus unicorn from the Middle East to list on the US Nasdaq. The transaction is expected to close in Q4 of 2021 and the combined public company will be named Swvl Holdings Corp.
SWVL has executed a comprehensive growth strategy with the goal of realizing approximately $1 billion of annual gross revenue and expansion to more than 30 cities in more than 20 countries by 2025.
Earlier in the SWVL also announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a controlling interest in Shotl, a Barcelona-based mass transit platform that partners with municipalities and corporations to provide on-demand bus and van services across Europe, APAC, and LATAM. The acquisition will facilitate SWVL’s entry into Europe more than one year ahead of schedule.
In the year SWVL also grew its rides to reach over 100 routes all over Nairobi, plus out of town travel rides, it also grew its staff to have a team of over 70 people. Following a year pause on commuter services, SWVL also resumed the services in Nairobi which had been disrupted by stay-at-home orders to avoid the spread of Covid-19 last year. In an interview with the current Head of Operations at SWVL, Mubariz Malik, he stated that despite a rough start at some point, SWVL has experienced quite growth in Kenya and they plan to launch more products by end of Q1 in 2022
From great partnerships to growth and winning numbers, has experienced great growth in the year. For starters Mdundo partnered with Vodacom Tanzania in June to launch a music bundle as a premium service for the mobile operator’s subscribers.
They also announced in September that the platform had recorded 16.4 million users during the quarter to September 30, 2021. This represented a 10 percent growth from the previous quarter, mainly driven by significant increase in Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Tanzania had the platform’s biggest user base in the quarter, recording 4.1 million unique users, with Nigeria and Kenya recording 3.1 million and 2.6 million users respectively.
Mdundo also signed a one-year advertising partnership with leading sports betting and entertainment company, Sportpesa.
The deal valued at $100,000 (KES. 10.9 Million) will see SportPesa serving up to 600 Million Audio ads to the 9.7 Million Mdundo users in Tanzania.
Akili Network are the creators of Akili Kids!, Kenya’s first and only educational children’s and family TV channel. Akili Kids! Akili Kids was launched on the onset of COVID 19 in 2020, in less than 2 years, the Tv Station has grown in leaps and bounds to reache an average of 5.4 million children and 4.2 million adults, parents and caregivers every week, and is available for free country-wide on free-to- air television, and on satellite TV platforms including: DStv, GOtv, StarTimes, Zuku, and the Akili Kids! Website, as well as Safaricom’s Baze mobile video platform.
In an earlier interview, the founders of Akili Network stated that the pandemic had exponentially accelerated the company’s viewership because schools and businesses were closed and parents and children were at home together this helped the company hit upto 2X its 2024 viewership projections in four months!
Akili Kids is also the second most watched TV station between 6pm-10pm in Kenyan homes with children below the age of 14. This has seen them launch a new product, Akili Fam, a new evening block on Akili Kids! that is founded on 3 fundamental values; connection, interaction and family.
Akili Fam! aims to entertain, uplift, inspire and improve families through purposeful, engaging viewing and listening experiences.