Unicorns In Africa: Here Are 7 Of Them In Africa

unicorns in africa

In 2020/2021 there have been more tech unicorns in Africa than previous years, a good number of them are Fintech companies.


A unicorn is something very different in investor circles and the tech startup ecosystem. A tech unicorn, in the most basic sense, is a company that has been valued by investors at more than one billion dollars.

Unicorn valuations

The value of unicorns is generally determined by how investors and venture capitalists believe they will grow and develop over time, so it all comes down to longer-term forecasting. This means that their valuations have nothing to do with their financial performance. Many of these businesses rarely make any money when they first startup.

However, investors and capitalists may face some difficulties. If there are no other competitors in the industry, making the startup the first of its kind, there may be no other business model to compare it to, making the process somewhat complicated.

The Business World’s Unicorns

When a company strives to hire the best people for the job, its expectations may be far too high in comparison to what is available in the labor pool. Hiring managers may seek or hold out candidates with far superior qualifications to those required for the job.

A medium-sized company, for example, may want to hire someone with marketing, social media, writing, sales, and management experience, as well as fluency in three languages. While hiring one person with all of those skills may be more cost-effective than hiring multiple employees to handle separate tasks, it may be too much for the new employee to handle and can result in poor performance.

Are there unicorns in Africa

Tech Unicorns have a long history in Africa, with african unicorn startup like Jumia, which was founded in 2012, became the first tech startup to be valued at $1 billion in 2016. The continent’s large unbanked population, the majority of whom are unemployed but increasingly mobile and tech-savvy, provides an enormous opportunity for tech startups to enter the payments and e-commerce sectors.

Achieving a $1 billion valuation is a difficult but desirable goal for many tech startups, particularly those based in Africa. Access to capital and deeper innovation to delve into the continent’s diverse markets and unique positioning are seen as essential for accelerating valuation and scaling operations.

However, defining a unicorn remains a difficult topic in the African tech startup scene. Notwithstanding, the fact that an increasing number of African tech startups are achieving this status is important. Meanwhile, among analysts and experts who handle venture capital for tech startups, a debate over what constitutes a unicorn is raging.

One thing to note is that in Africa, any tech company that achieves a $1 billion valuation qualifies as a unicorn, regardless of whether it did so in the private or public markets.

Unicorns should be expected to emerge in other sectors – companies that will assist in addressing the continent’s key challenges such as healthcare, education, and trade, among others.

How many unicorn companies are in Africa

Despite a global pandemic, there are over 800 companies in the world that have achieved unicorn status. 397 African tech startups have raised a total of $701.5 million, according to the African Tech Startups Funding Report 2020. Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa stand out as the top capital destinations, accounting for 89.2 percent of total funds invested on the continent.

There is also a lot of excitement surrounding the first three African startups to be valued at $1 billion: Flutterwave, Interswitch, and Jumia. Experts predict that a growing fintech and eCommerce market, combined with a booming tech population, will result in even more unicorn companies on the continent’s horizon.

Which Country has the most Unicorns in Africa

Six of the unicorns described below are from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, while the other, Fawry, is from Egypt, where tech startups have recently received massive funding from venture capitalists. So it can be said that Nigeria has the most Unicorns startups in Africa.

Here are 7 Unicorns in Africa

We listed a lot of unicorn companies in Nigeria, as the nation seem to have more startups in the continent.

1. Flutterwave:

Flutterwave, which was founded in Lagos in 2016, now has a second headquarters in San Francisco to reflect the company’s investment transformation and the ability to raise funds from venture capitalists has been critical to the company’s growth. Flutterwave has since stretched to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania in recent years.

Flutterwave, which facilitates international payments for African and international companies such as Facebook and Uber, became a unicorn in March 2021 when its valuation surpassed $1 billion after raising $170 million in April this year. Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital, both based in the United States, contributed to this round of funding. Flutterwave has since expanded to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania in recent years.

2 Interswitch:

Interswitch was established in 2002. Interswitch, which was formed by a Nigerian, became a unicorn in 2019 when Visa paid $200 million for a 20% stake in the company. Interswitch was established at a time when no one was looking at Africa, and despite setting the pace and dominating the African landscape in its early years, it received little or no outside funding.

Interswitch provided 22 million debit and credit cards through its Verve offering, and up to 190,000 businesses use its platform to process transactions. Interswitch functions in Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria, with plans for growth as well as expansion into two more West African countries by the year 2021 and 2022.

3. Jumia:

Jumia, which was founded in 2012, became the first tech startup to be valued at $1 billion in 2016. Jumia’s unicorn status came quickly because it had a lot of support from both inside and outside the continent. Jumia is now publicly traded in New York, alongside companies such as Goldman Sachs, MasterCard, and MTN Group.

Achieving a $1 billion valuation is a difficult but desirable goal for many tech startups, particularly those based in Africa. Jumia’s current active customers increased 12 percent to 6.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, thanks to Africa’s thriving and increasingly digital payments industry.

During the same period, the company processed 8.1 million orders. However, the number of orders processed was slightly lower than the previous year. According to the business, Covid-19 restrictions in core markets such as Morocco and Kenya led to supply and logistics disruption, especially in the food delivery business where deliveries were disrupted by curfews in these countries.

4. Fawry:

Fawry, the continent’s only non-Nigerian unicorn, was founded in 2008 as an Egyptian e-payments company that allows customers to settle bills online and digitally through Automated Teller Machines, retail Points of Sale, and digital wallets. In 2019, it debuted on the Egyptian Stock Exchange. It announced a year later that its valuation had reached $1 billion. Like many other Egyptian fintech and e-commerce firms, the company is benefiting from policy measures that allow the central bank to permit more such platforms.

Egypt’s unicorn, Fawry, has nearly 30 million customers, which include financial firms, companies, and funders. The company benefits from increased venture capital investment in Egyptian startups. Egyptian startups nearly exceeded the $190 million raised in 2020 in June alone.

5. Chipper Cash:

Chipper Cash, an African cross-border fintech venture that has received a lot of venture funding and has seen it’s stock valuation rise to more than $1 billion, though this has not yet been divulged or confirmed by the company. The company, which was founded in the United States in 2014 by Ugandan-born Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled, is now active in seven African countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya. Chipper Cash recently raised an additional $100 million in a Series C round to fund rapid expansion.

This follows a $30 million round led eight months ago by a fund backed by Jeff Bezos and Ribbit Capital. Chipper Cash’s zero-rated person-to-person cross-border mobile money transfer service has 3 million users, 10,000 new users per day, and 80,000 exchanges per day. Aside from that, the business, which has branches in Nigeria and Ghana, now provides bill payment and internet shopping. Its fintech placement, as well as the amount of funding it has received, reflects fintech’s supremacy in the rise of unicorns in Africa.

6. Opay:

OPay entered the Nigerian market in 2018 and is well-known for its transportation and logistics services. The Chinese-owned company had a single strategy: provide everything, including cab and motorcycle hailing services, logistics, banking services, e-commerce, and even food services.

Opay, an Opera-run and Chinese-backed but Africa-focused, and primarily Nigeria-focused, fintech startup, is the other emerging company touted as the next African unicorn. The company raised $400 million which increased their valuation to over $1.5 billion, which made them qualified for the unicorn position. After raising $50 million in June and another $130 million in November, the company raised two tranches of funds in 2020, largely backed by Chinese financiers such as SoftBank, IDG Capital, Sequoia Capital China, SoftBank Ventures Asia, and GSR Ventures are among the investors.

7. Andela:

Andela first opened its doors in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2014, with the explicit purpose of solving Africa’s severe shortage of software developers and engineers. It settled on a model in which it selected and trained engineers in a six-month boot camp before placing them in junior developer roles at global companies.

Andela, a technology company that connects software developers from Africa and other emerging markets with global clients, has achieved unicorn status after raising $200 million in a Series E funding round led by Japan’s Softbank Group. The Nigerian startup joins Senegal’s Wave and Nigeria/US-based Flutterwave as the West African unicorns of 2021, with a $1.5 billion valuation.

The latest round of funding allows the company to invest even more in its AI software, which it claims makes hiring faster and easier by providing millions of data points to guide companies on where an individual would be most productive.


1. What Is a Business Unicorn?

A unicorn is a private startup company or business with a valuation of more than 1 billion dollars.

2. How Many Unicorn Businesses Exist?

As of June 2021, there are over 600 unicorns in the world. They have raised $442 billion in total and are valued at around $2 trillion.

3. Is Amazon a Unicorn Business?

Amazon is not a unicorn because unicorns are generally used to describe privately owned startup companies. Amazon, on the other hand, was before it went public.

4. What Is the Origin of the Name “Unicorn”?

Startups valued at more than $1 billion are recognized as unicorns because they are so relatively uncommon, these companies have seen rising success or market momentum, boosting them into a mythical classification due to their rareness.

5. How Do I Invest in a Unicorn?

Unless you are a private investor or venture capitalist, unicorns, as startup companies, do not accept many moderately-sized investments. However, investors who are interested in these unicorns should monitor their growth in case they decide to become public companies and IPO.


Although Africa’s startup scene is still in its early stages, it is rapidly growing and evolving. Furthermore, if venture capitalists remain as positive as they have been in recent times, we expect to see more startups achieve that status shortly.


Our Writers most times refer to other reputable publishers source to bring in more facts especially when it has to do with stats

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