10 African Tech Companies That Have Been Backed By Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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U.S. tech incubator Y Combinator, perhaps the world’s most powerful startup accelerator program, has backed many African tech companies over the years.

The Silicon Valley-based incubator has played a part in the successes of some well-known tech startups, many of which have become household names.

From a Ghanaian new media company that is considered the ‘Buzzfeed of Africa, to fintech startups enabling online payments across Africa, and a Senegalese solar firm providing off-grid households in rural villages with modern energy access, Y Combinator has backed a varied group of startups across the continent.

Here are 10 African tech companies that have been backed by Sillicon Valley’s Y Combinator.

OMG Digital

Last year Y Combinator-backed Ghanaian media startup OMG Digital raised $1.1 million in seed funding to help fulfil its growing reputation as the “BuzzFeed of Africa”. OMG Voice, the primary website run by the group, operates with versions in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya. The company creates content for millennials including listicles, pictorials, videos and memes with an African audience in mind, according to Techpoint.

Flutterwave

Nigerian fintech startup Flutterwave is another Y Combinator success story. The startup provides a modern transaction infrastructure that is designed to allow payments to be made and accepted via mobile. Following their time as part of the Y Combinator program, the startup raised over $10 million in a Series A funding round during 2017, according to iAfrikan.

Helium Health

Nigerian electronic medical records startup Helium Health is another Y Combinator graduate, having completed the program in 2017. The company’s smart electronic health record system handles doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and medical billing. In order to cater for a lack of connectivity in parts of Africa, the platform also runs offline and syncs to the cloud when connection is available.

Releaf

Solving one of the most frequently cited problems in Nigerian agribusiness, Nigerian-American startup Releaf helps to create a business-to-business marketplace that enables Nigerian businesses to find customers and partners that they can trust. The startup took part in Y Combinator last year, with Nigerian-American founders, chief executive Isaiah Udotong, chief operating officer Ikenna Nzewi and chief technical officer Uzoma Ayogu, all having attended colleges in the U.S., with experiences at Yale, Duke and MIT shaping their contributions to the startup.

Oolu

Senegalese solar startup Oolu is a graduate of Y Combinator, having completed the program in 2015. The West African solar startup provides off-grid households in rural villages with modern energy access through solar solutions, allowing those in remote areas access to power. The startup is one of the fastest growing solar companies in the region, serving 34,000 households in Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali, according to ImpactAlpha.

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solar startup - Y Combinator
Solar startup Oolu is one of the African tech companies backed by Y Combinator. Photo – Oolu

InstaBug

InstaBug is an Egyptian crowd-sourcing platform for mobile engineers that enables users to report bugs and send feedback to the developers from within apps. Instabug’s clients include SoundCloud, PayPal, Philips and Yahoo. In 2016 the startup secured $1.7 million in funding to allow it to expand its suite of tools, showing the appetite investors may have for the business, according to EgyptInnovate.

CowryWise

Nigerian fintech startup CowryWise has been accepted into the Y Combinator Summer 2018 Batch, undertaking the program at the moment. CowryWise is a secure online savings and investment platform that helps Nigerians to work towards their financial goals through return on investments made on the digital platform. The startup provides access to digital investment tools which are usually only available to high net worth individuals, giving young Africans the opportunity to invest in high-yield government bonds through their app, Techcrunch reports.

Kangpe Health

Kangpe Health is a mobile platform that is connecting Africans with healthcare providers through a number of digital services. The startup took part in Y Combinator in 2015. African users are able to contact doctors remotely through their mobile devices thanks to a mobile app on either a feature or smartphone, allowing them to ask medical questions and get answers from actual doctors.

Paystack

Nigerian fintech startup Paystack is a platform that enables online payments across Africa, overcoming many of the barriers businesses face in terms of accepting payments online. The Lagos-based startup with an office in San Francisco graduated from Y Combinator in 2015, and was the first Nigerian company to be invited by the Silicon Valley-based incubator.

Tress

Tress is a Nigerian app that allows people to share their hairstyles with fellow app users, with the idea being that women would discover and share hairstyle inspirations with each other. Following an undisclosed investment from the Meltwater School of Technology (MEST) in early 2017, Tress attracted a further seed round of $120,000 from Y Combinator that same year, according to Crunchbase.