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EV Company Spiro Revs Up Africa Expansion with $50 Million Afreximbank Loan

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EV Company Spiro Revs Up Africa Expansion with $50 Million Afreximbank Loan

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African electric vehicle (EV) leader Spiro announced a significant boost to its expansion plans with a $50 million debt financing agreement signed with Afreximbank, the pan-African multilateral financial institution.

The funds will fuel Spiro’s growth in Cameroon and Morocco this year, according to Afreximbank.

They will be used to expand the company’s network of automated battery-swapping stations and introduce new electric bike models, making eco-friendly transportation more accessible across the continent.

“This debt facility is a game-changer for Spiro,” said Kaushik Burman, CEO of Spiro. “It strengthens our operational capabilities and allows us to reach new African markets.”

Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership. “We’re proud to support Spiro’s growth. This collaboration accelerates EV adoption and enhances transportation across Africa,” Awani said, highlighting Afreximbank’s commitment to innovation and sustainable development.

This agreement follows Afreximbank’s partnership with Max, a startup that facilitates car ownership, further solidifying their commitment to Africa’s sustainable mobility future.

Spiro currently boasts a fleet exceeding 14,000 electric bikes and operates in six African nations: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Togo, and Benin.

Their vision is to create a comprehensive EV ecosystem for Africa, promoting environmental responsibility and improved urban mobility.

This vision includes collaboration with various stakeholders and the development of a robust charging infrastructure offering both battery swapping and direct charging options.

Notably, in February 2024, Spiro partnered with Nigeria’s Ogun State government to establish electric motorcycle battery-swapping stations.

Additionally, last year, the company secured a $63 million loan to expand its operations in Benin and Togo.

With this latest investment, Spiro appears poised to accelerate its mission of making electric transportation a reality across Africa.

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New VC Firm OpenseedVC Announces First Close of $10 Million Fund to Back Early-Stage African Operators

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New VC Firm OpenseedVC Announces First Close of $10 Million Fund to Back Early-Stage African Operators

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OpenseedVC, a recently launched venture capital firm, has secured an initial closing for its $10 million early-stage fund.

The fund will focus on backing startups in Africa and Europe founded by experienced technology operators.

OpenseedVC’s unique approach prioritizes founders with deep industry knowledge who are transitioning from operational roles to launch their own ventures.

“We understand the challenges faced by operators who are making the leap into entrepreneurship,” said Maria Rotilu, General Partner at OpenseedVC. “Our goal is to provide them with the capital, guidance, and network needed to succeed.”

OpenseedVC offers more than just funding. The firm boasts a network of over 50 experienced operators across software engineering, product development, go-to-market strategies, and talent acquisition. This network will serve as a valuable resource for portfolio companies.

The fund’s investors themselves are a diverse group, including founders, professionals from established businesses, and high-net-worth individuals from Africa, Europe, and the United States.

Over the next five years, OpenseedVC plans to invest in over 60 startups with a focus on B2B software, AI applications in fintech, productivity tools, and digital health solutions.

The firm will typically invest up to $150,000 in each company and has established an open application process, allowing founders to apply directly without needing an introduction.

OpenseedVC has already invested in two companies, including a speech-to-text technology solution designed specifically for under-represented African accents.

Looking forward, the firm is committed to building a diverse portfolio that includes a strong representation of female founders.

“We recognize the importance of portfolio diversification,” said Rotilu. “Our focus is on geographic spread, industry sector representation, and achieving a 50/50 gender balance among co-founding teams.”

OpenseedVC’s emphasis on operator-led ventures and its commitment to diversity position the firm as a unique player in the African and European early-stage investment landscape.

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d.light Secures $3.4 Million to Provide Solar Home Systems to Refugees in Uganda

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d.light Secures $3.4 Million to Provide Solar Home Systems to Refugees in Uganda

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d.light, a company providing essential household products and financing to low-income communities, has announced a project to equip Ugandan refugee camps with solar home systems.

This initiative aims to improve living conditions for refugees and boost economic opportunities.

d.light will provide 10,000 subsidized solar home systems to refugees from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and other countries residing in Northern and Western Uganda.

This forms part of a larger effort to distribute 23,000 systems across refugee settlements.

The project is funded by a $3.4 million grant from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and Energising Development (EnDev), an international program backed by the German, Dutch, Norwegian, and Swiss governments.

“This grant allows us to expand our work and significantly improve the lives of refugees in Uganda,” said Douglas Gavala, d.light’s Managing Director for Uganda.

“The solar systems provide affordable, reliable lighting and phone charging, promoting safety, education, and economic activity.”

The 12-month project utilizes results-based financing, ensuring d.light receives payment only upon successful installation.

Each system includes energy-efficient LED lights, an FM radio with MP3 playback, mobile phone charging capabilities, and a portable solar flashlight.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Africa possesses 60% of the world’s best solar resources, yet its solar power capacity remains low.

This project builds on d.light’s commitment to empowering low-income communities.

Their Pay-Go financing model, recently bolstered by a $7.4 million investment, provides affordable solar products to those who need them most.

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Accion Launches $152.5 Million Fund to Drive Digital Transformation for Financial Inclusion in Africa

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Accion Launches $152.5 Million Fund to Drive Digital Transformation for Financial Inclusion in Africa

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Accion, a non-profit focused on financial inclusion, has announced the launch of the Accion Digital Transformation Fund, a $152.5 million initiative designed to empower traditional financial institutions in serving underserved small businesses.

The fund targets microfinance banks and similar institutions in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

By providing growth capital and strategic support, the initiative aims to bridge the gap between traditional financial institutions and digitally underserved populations.

“We’ve seen firsthand how many people, especially in rural areas, lack access to essential financial services,” said Abhishek Agrawal, Managing Partner at the Accion Digital Transformation Fund.

“This fund addresses two key challenges: building trust in digital finance among rural customers and equipping traditional institutions with the knowledge and resources to effectively engage them.”

The fund prioritizes investments in institutions serving micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Preferred targets include traditional microfinance institutions, affordable housing companies, and those transitioning to full-fledged banks.

Investments will range from $12 million to $15 million, with additional contributions from the fund’s limited partners, which include prominent organizations like British International Investment (BII) and Mastercard.

This initiative marks a strategic shift for Accion. Previously, the Accion Venture Lab focused on early-stage fintech startups.

The new fund, however, will invest directly in established financial institutions to accelerate their digital transformation journey.

“Our goal is to empower existing institutions to leverage technology and reach a wider customer base,” explained Agrawal. “This approach complements our existing work with fintech startups, fostering a more inclusive financial ecosystem overall.”

The Accion Digital Transformation Fund is managed by Accion Impact Management, which also oversees the Accion Venture Lab.

Accion Emerge, another Accion initiative, continues to support growth-stage companies in embedded finance, agritech, and the future of work.

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Senegalese Retail Tech Startup Maad Secures $3.2 Million in Seed Funding to Fuel Expansion and Innovation

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Senegalese Retail Tech Startup Maad Secures $3.2 Million in Seed Funding to Fuel Expansion and Innovation

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Maad, a Senegalese logistics platform catering to informal retailers, has secured $3.2 million in seed funding.

This investment will fuel the company’s domestic and international expansion plans and launch of new products.

Maad bridges the gap between suppliers and small retailers of everyday consumer goods (FMCG).

Their technology platform empowers retailers with a one-stop shop for ordering products, ensuring reliable delivery and competitive prices. Additionally, Maad offers working capital loans to support these businesses.

Beyond its core distribution network, Maad leverages its infrastructure to provide high-value services to brands.

This includes data analysis, software solutions, and support with advertising, distribution, and market insights.

The funding round, a mix of equity and debt, was led by Ventures Platform.

Other participants include Seedstars International Ventures, Reflect Ventures, Oui Capital, Launch Africa, Voltron Capital, and Alumni Ventures. Local banks, alongside Proparco, contributed to the debt financing.

“Maad enjoys a significant first-mover advantage within the Sub-Saharan Francophone African market,” said Sidy Niang, Maad’s co-founder and CEO.

“This largely untapped market presents a tremendous opportunity. As the region’s fastest-growing player, we’re well-positioned to solidify our leadership and drive transformation.”

The funds will be used to solidify Maad’s dominance in the Senegalese market and expand into a second Francophone African nation.

“Maad’s innovative approach to digitizing Francophone Africa’s informal retail sector has the potential to significantly impact small business owners and consumers,” stated Dotun Oloworopoku, managing partner at Ventures Platform.

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Admaius Capital Partners Invests in Rwanda Telco TRES Infrastructure to Boost Connectivity

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Admaius Capital Partners Invests in Rwanda Telco TRES Infrastructure to Boost Connectivity

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Africa-focused private equity firm Admaius Capital Partners (“Admaius”) has announced a majority equity investment in TRES Infrastructure Limited (“TRES”), the sole Rwandan company licensed to own, operate, and develop shared telecommunications infrastructure.

TRES’ towers support major mobile network operators MTN and Airtel, along with KT Rwanda Networks.

Admaius’ investment will fuel TRES’ expansion, aligning with Rwanda’s goal of exceeding 95% nationwide geographical coverage and facilitating the rollout of 4G and 5G networks.

This expansion is expected to enhance network affordability and connectivity in both urban and rural areas.

Rwanda’s telecom tower market boasts strong, consistent demand driven by population growth, rising mobile subscriptions, steady SIM card penetration, and increasing multi-SIM adoption.

Admaius’ investment aligns with their strategy of targeting high-impact sectors in Africa that drive economic and social progress, including technology, media & telecommunications (TMT), digital infrastructure, and education.

Admaius received co-advisory services from Asafo & Co. and ENS Africa. Gahigiro Capital and BK Capital served as co-financial advisors to TRES and its founder, while Attorneys House provided legal counsel.

“We are thrilled to invest in Rwanda, a fast-growing African market with robust and broad-based GDP growth,” said Marlon Chigwende, Admaius Managing Partner.

“Our investment will expand network coverage to rural areas and support the rollout of 4G and eventually 5G. We’re also providing experienced tower specialists to strengthen TRES’ business.”

Venuste Twagiramungu, CEO of TRES, commented, “Admaius’ investment is perfectly timed. Their fund management expertise brings not only financial backing but also the organizational capabilities to transform TRES into a true corporation. We anticipate rapid expansion and a significant contribution to Rwanda’s 95% coverage goal.”

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Egyptian Fintech Startup MNZL Secures $3.5 Million in Seed Funding to Revolutionize Asset-Backed Lending

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Egyptian Fintech Startup MNZL Secures $3.5 Million in Seed Funding to Revolutionize Asset-Backed Lending

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Egyptian fintech startup MNZL has secured $3.5 million in seed funding to improve its technology and expand its operations.

This funding aims to empower more Egyptians by providing them with innovative financial solutions.

MNZL’s revolutionary platform allows users to leverage their existing assets, such as homes and cars, to gain access to much-needed liquidity for various projects and financial needs.

The company has pioneered a unique “wallet” concept within the asset-backed lending space.

Through this concept, homeowners and car owners can upload digital representations of their assets into a secure MNZL wallet. This allows them to unlock the value tied to those assets and convert it into usable cash for various purposes.

Sameh Saleh, co-founder of MNZL, highlights the transformative nature of the company’s approach. “MNZL goes beyond simply offering an alternative; it’s a complete revolution in how Egyptians access credit,” he states.

The $3.5 million seed funding round was led by P1 Ventures, Localglobe, and Ingressive Capital. Additional participation came from prominent investors like 500 Global, Flat6Labs, First Circle Capital, Enza Capital, Beenok, and a group of angel investors.

Expressing his enthusiasm, Hisham Halbouny, managing partner at P1 Ventures, commented, “We are thrilled to support MNZL’s mission.

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Egyptian Startup Swypex Launches All-in-One Financial Platform for Businesses After $4 Million Seed Round

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Egyptian Startup Swypex Launches All-in-One Financial Platform for Businesses After $4 Million Seed Round

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Egyptian startup Swypex has unveiled its one-stop financial management platform designed to streamline business operations.

The launch comes after the company secured a US$4 million seed funding round led by prominent venture capital firm Accel, marking their first investment in the region’s fintech sector.

Founded by a trio of entrepreneurs – Ahmad Mokhtar, Tarek Mokhtar, and Sasan Hezarkhani – Swypex offers businesses a unified platform integrating financial dashboards, smart corporate cards, and seamless connections with existing financial systems and accounting software.

The company positions itself as the first comprehensive solution of its kind in Egypt.

Swypex promises to eliminate financial inefficiencies and unlock a business’ full potential by consolidating payments, invoice management, and smart corporate cards into a single platform.

This reportedly simplifies financial management, allowing businesses to automate workflows and make payments more effortlessly.

The seed funding round, led by Accel, signifies strong investor confidence in Swypex. Accel is joined by Foundation Ventures, The Raba Partnership, and a group of prominent angel investors.

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British Investment and Nordic Fund Inject $29.5 Million into Climate Insurance Technologies for Africa

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British Investment and Nordic Fund Inject $29.5 Million into Climate Insurance Technologies for Africa

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The British International Investment (BII) and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) have pledged $29.5 million towards climate insurance technologies.

This commitment comes through the second InsuResilience Investment Fund (IIF II) aimed at bolstering climate resilience for Africa’s rural communities.

The decision stems from the growing concern surrounding extreme weather events like droughts and floods plaguing African nations.

These disasters disrupt businesses and particularly impact small-scale farmers, who are crucial for maintaining food security.

Climate insurance, though still in its early stages on the continent, offers a potential solution.

To accelerate the deployment of such solutions, the two development finance institutions are prioritizing technology-driven approaches.

BII is contributing $15 million, while the NDF is providing $13.5 million. Notably, the NDF’s contribution includes an additional $1 million grant specifically for the “technical assistance mechanism” of the IIF II fund.

This combined funding brings the total capital secured by IIF II to $90 million, nearing its $100 million target. The fund’s final closing is anticipated for the latter half of 2024.

IIF II focuses on providing insurance products that shield communities from climate-related shocks and disasters.

Additionally, the fund invests across various segments of the climate insurance value chain, encompassing traditional insurance firms, technology providers, and service companies.

This approach fosters the development of insurtech, which combines insurance operations with digital tools.

For instance, IIF II participated in a $20 million funding round for Pula, a Nairobi-based insurtech company.

This Series B fundraising, which also attracted the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to offer coverage for livestock – a sector severely impacted by recent droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

Pula’s insurance products have already benefitted over 15.8 million farmers across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

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