10 African Startups With The Potential To Become Unicorns

By Peter Pedroncelli AFKI Original Published: August 2, 2017, 6:56 am
African startups - connect African codersAfrican startup Andela raises another $40M in funding. (Image: connectnigeria.com)

The Africa Internet Group became the first startup unicorn from Africa when the leading e-commerce group in the continent was valued at more than $1 billion last year, becoming a pioneer among African startups.

The innovative nature and growth of the African tech scene appears to suggest that more African countries will become unicorns in the near future.

There are a few startups that are approaching that milestone, and they have the potential to become members within a group of global unicorns that only number around 150 or so in total.

According to the Africa innovation report by Liquid Telecom, future unicorns are expected to come from one of the five countries currently leading the continent in digital innovation, which are Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

With that in mind, here are 10 African startups which have the potential to become unicorns.

Sources: VC4A, TrueAfrica, Quartz, TechCrunch, TechCentral.

Spacepointe partners with Microsoft Nigeria to welcome new interns. Photo - Facebook

Spacepointe partners with Microsoft Nigeria to welcome new interns. Photo – Facebook


SpacePointe is a Nigerian tech startup that helps African small and medium enterprises to increase their bottom line revenue in their offline and online market channels. In 2016 last year the company raised $1.2 million in funding from numerous investors.

fintech opportunities

Fintech companies like South African startup Zoona are creating a new financial infrastructure. Photo: ilovezoona.com


The South African fintech startup aims to provide digital financial services to informal markets, assisting people without banking facilities or access to financial establishments. Last year the company said it had processed more than $1 billion in transactions, and it is certainly one of the candidates to become a unicorn.

Identification technology

ThisIsMe helps to protect against fraud and identity theft. Image: findbiometrics.com


With offices in Cape Town and San Francisco, ThisIsMe is a verification service launched in 2014. The startup received $2.5 million in funding with the purpose of expanding into other parts of the world, including Australia and New Zealand.

African startups

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan recently invested $24 million in an African startup Andela. (Image: connectnigeria.com)


Andela is a Nigerian coder training company that provides engineering teams with world-class software developers. In 2016 Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation led a funding round that provided the company with investment of $24 million. The company is now headquartered in New York, with offices in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

Users can take short online courses via GetSmarter. Photo: TechCentral


GetSmarter, a South African edtech startup founded by brothers Sam and Rob Paddock, develops online short courses in partnership with higher education institutions, including Cambridge University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Cape Town and others. Nasdaq-listed edtech firm 2U recently announced it is acquiring GetSmarter for $103 million.

The InstaBug team from Egypt. Photo: 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. In recent years 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.

African real estate markets

Products from Cape allow users to test and troubleshoot WiFi.  Photo: sheleadsafrica.org


Cape is a South African startup which was previously known as Asimmetric. Launched in 2015, it operates a WiFi network and quality monitoring and troubleshooting tool that has tasted success. In 2016, the company announced it had raised an undisclosed seven-figure dollar funding round from three U.S.-based early-stage hardware and Internet of Things investment firms, and as such it opened an office in San Francisco.

SweepSouth has been described as the Uber for cleaning. Photo: idgconnect.com


The South African home and office cleaning services tech firm SweepSouth became the first ever African firm to be accepted in the U.S.-based startup accelerator, the 500 Startups Program in Silicon Valley, and continues to attract investor interest.


South Africa’s Luno did well to attract investment. Image: DeepDotWeb


South Africa’s Bitcoin platform Luno, which was originally called BitX, has been a success story since launching in 2013. The company raised S$4 million from Naspers in 2014 in addition to an undisclosed amount from Venture Capital in 2015.

Fuzu is an all-in-one career development startup. Photo - YouTube

Fuzu is an all-in-one career development startup. Photo – YouTube


The Kenyan startup aims to provide an all-in-one career development platform, which allows users to learn new skills and find jobs regardless of their level of education. The startup received backing from the Rockefeller Foundation and Accenture, raising $1.88 million in funding to support its expansion into other parts of Africa and Asia.

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