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‘$8.6m Series A round well timed as Africa’s Talking was looking at expansion’

Featured image: Africa's Talking CEO Sam Gikandi (Africa's Talking via Twitter)
Featured image: Africa's Talking CEO Sam Gikandi (Africa's Talking via Twitter)

Africa’s Talking Series A $8.6-million funding round led by IFC Venture Capital was the startup’s first major round of investment and came just as the Nairobi-based software company is looking to expand into more African countries, the company’s spokesperson has said.

Orange Digital Ventures and Silicon Valley VC firm Social Capital also participated in the $8.6-million funding round.

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“This round of funding has come as the need for us to accelerate to more African countries became more pressing,” Africa’s Talking spokesperson Rachael Wambua said in an email.

Africa’s Talking was founded in 2010 by MIT graduates CEO Samuel Gikandi (pictured above) and Eston Kimani. The enterprise software company aims to democratise access to communication and payments infrastructure through its bulk SMS, USSD, voice, payments, and airtime APIs.

Africa’s Talking aims to expand into 20 countries by the end of 2019, with a focus on francophone countries

Gikandi said there are currently many developers on the continent experiencing difficulties getting access to basic infrastructure.

“This is why we went into a partnership with the IFC, Orange Digital Ventures and Social Capital. The IFC has deep experience in Africa and catalysing similar ecosystems to ours. We come in to help them better understand the local tech industry,” said Gikandi.

‘Steady growth’

Wambua said there are more than 20 000 developers, freelancers, and startups currently using Africa’s Talking platform.

“Since the beginning, we have had a steady growth of developers and clients on our platform,” Wambua said.

Africa’s Talking currently operates in seven African countries, namely; Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

The company now aims to expand to 20 more countries by the end of 2019.

Expansion into francophone countries

Gikandi said one of the participants in the funding round, Orange Digital Ventures, has a substantial presence in francophone countries on the continent and that “they also share in the value of keeping APIs open for everyone.

With the backing of Orange Digital Ventures, Africa’s Talking is now looking to expand into francophone countries.

“With this partnership, we will not only be able to go into the francophone countries, we’ll be walking with people who share the same vision we do,” she said.

She added that the funding will be used to “expand and catalyse the different ecosystems we set our foot on”.

“We need to reach developers in these countries and there is no better way that having a local presence in the country,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges Africa’s Talking faces, she said, is that of getting access to infrastructure.

“There are different regulations in the different countries which can make it difficult starting a business that aims at simplifying access to infrastructure.But that is what we have signed up for,” said Wambua.

Featured image: Africa’s Talking CEO Sam Gikandi (Africa’s Talking via Twitter)

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