EAVCA: Fintrek explores Fintech opportunities in East Africa

This week, the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) with Intellecap Advisory Services released the Fintrek – which explores fintech opportunities in East Africa, new frontiers in fintech (defined as firms using technology to deliver financial products/services or capabilities to customers or others firms) and fintech investments in East Africa.

Asia Pacific and Africa have been harbingers of mobile payments and that is transitioning into fintech now. The Fintrek report notes three underlying factors driving fintech uptake as:

  • (i) the use of alternative data to generate credit takings of the unbanked (and deliver services to them cheaply e.g no need for bank branches),
  • (ii) peer to peer networks (decentralized collaboration, payments across borders, unregulated) and
  • (iii) the emergence of nontraditional players (telcos, wallets like Google Pay & Apple Pay, e-retailers like Amazon)

smartphones offer fintech opportunities.

Regionally, Kenya is seen as a leader in the region owing to its levels of deposit penetration, deep financial sector penetration, and smartphone ownership (at 44% compared to less than 10% for Tanzania Uganda Rwanda and Ethiopia). Kenya is where most fintechs are setting up, and Kenya-based fintechs have raised $204 million between 2000 and 2017 which is 98% of the funding to the region.

Funding: In terms of funding, fintechs are still in early stages as seen in the small deal sizes: seed funding provided 47 deals (averaging $447,000) and 60% of all funding was to impact areas renewable energy/off grid lighting and health care (microinsurance). Five companies M-KOPA, Off-Grid Electric, SunFunder, Angaza, Azuri) have raised $345 million (through debt and equity) accounting for 55% of the funding between 2010 and 2017. Another finding was that while 53% of all funding between 2010 and 2017 was from venture capital funds, their average deal size  ($6 million – e.g. from Apis, Madison Dearborn)  is lower than those of corporates ($15 million – e.g. from Stanbic, Commercial Bank of Africa) and foundations ($10 million – e.g. from Calvert, Emerson, Omidyar Network) deals.

Fintechs needs a balance of debt and equity investments to grow, but they are struggling to get debt financing (mainly bank loans). Fintechs in East Africa had debt-equity ratios of 1:1 compared to 3:1 globally, indicating they have capacity to absorb more debt but are not doing it. The EAVCA report cites one of the funding challenges as investors want proof of traction while fintechs need working capital to demonstrate proof of concept, lack of funder knowledge about local markets, East Africa fintechs don’t look like what foreign investors expect, currency fluctuations make it had to raise debt and there is a lack of fundraising skill among local fintechs who can’t afford the teams that will enable them to raise money.

The Fintrek report identified 11 fintech opportunities models and 47 sub-models and identified 4 sub-models that have flourished in East Africa:

Payments and Savings: digital wallets (M-Pesa, Alipay, Tigo pesa – which pays 7-9% interest and now attract high-end users), payment intermediaries (Cellulant, Direct Pay, Jambopay) and digital currencies (Bitpesa, Coinbase, Belfrics – a crypto-currency platform).

Lending: direct lending (Branch, Tala – with 1.8M customers in Kenya, Kreditech, Umati capital), P2P lending (Lendable, Pezesha – has 6,000 borrowers & 200 lenders), and lending aggregators (lakompare). Also, there is telco-based nano lending (M-Shwari, KCB-M-Pesa, Equitel – which issued $57 billion worth of loans – and telco-bank lenders in Kenya account for over 76% of total loan accounts, but only 4% of the loan values)

Financial Management: Insuretech (Bimaspace, BimaAfya, Microensure), Investech (Abacus, Xeno) and personal finance management – (Chamasoft, Caytree).

FS Enablers: (Jumo – credit underwriting for 5 million customers and 20 million loans), Arifu, FirstAccess, NetGuardian – fraud identifier), FarmDrive, Sasa solutions, Lendddo).

Some recent fintech deals in East Africa include Farmdrive (from the Safaricom Spark Fund), Pezesha (DFS lab), Pula (DFS lab, CGAP), M-Kopa ($80M – Stanbic, CDC, FMO, Norfund), Tala ($30M – IVP), Jumo ($24M – Finnfund), Mobisol ($12M – FinnFund), Angaza ($10.5M – Emerson), Flutterwave ($10M – Greycroft), Netguardian ($8.5M – Freemont), Trine ($8M – Gullspang), Lendable ($6M – Kawisafi, Omidyar, Fenway), Direct Pay ($5M – Apis), Azuri ($5M – Standard Chartered), Bitpesa ($4.25M – Greycroft), Branch ($2M – from high-networth Kenyans and funds – arranged by Nabo Capital)

Production of the Fintrek report was supported by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

See more of the EAVCA Fintrek report and other fintech opportunities at the 5th Sankalp Africa Summit on March 1-2, 2018 in Nairobi and see their private equity snapshot report.


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