Kenyan start-ups raise Sh8.8bn from international investors for expansion

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Kenyan startups Copia Global and Poa Internet have raised a total of $78 million (Sh8.8 billion) from international investors for expansion.

E-commerce firm Copia raised $50 million (Sh5.6 billion) from Zebu Investment Partners, the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Koa Labs, Lightrock, German development finance institution DEG and Perivoli Innovation.

Affordable internet provider Poa secured $28 million (Sh3.1 billion) from Africa50, a financing vehicle backed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and African countries.

This is the latest fundraising by Kenya-based startups that have received tens of billions of shillings, mainly from foreign institutional investors, to test and implement innovative technology-enabled ideas.

For Copia, the latest backing pushes the firm’s total funding raised to $83.8 million (Sh9.5 billion). This comes after the firm raised $26 million (Sh2.9 billion) in a Series B round in 2019.

Copia, founded in Kenya by Tracey Turner and Jonathan Lewis, is a business-to-customer (B2C) platform that allows unserved and underserved customers to order goods through its mobile technologies, agents and logistic channel.

Poa’s latest fundraising takes the total capital it has received so far to $36 million (Sh4 billion).

In 2020, the internet company participated in the Africa50’s innovation challenge that was looking for cheap and reliable solutions for last-mile internet connectivity across the continent.

The firm’s proposal emerged the best, beating 673 participants across the world and securing investment as well as cash prize.

“We are focused on Kenya at the moment, but the problem we’re solving is continent-wide,” Poa’s co-founder and chief executive officer Andy Halsall said.

“And for us, it’s not just about getting people some connectivity. Our aim is to get a lot of people online and to give them a meaningful internet experience like the ability to stream videos, without worrying about how much data they’re consuming.”

The internet company says that it currently serves over 12,000 customers (homes and small businesses) in Nairobi’s low and middle-income neighborhoods as well as tens of thousands more through its street Wi-Fi connections.

It charges its customers as low as Sh1,500 per month, which is below the pricing by the leading internet service providers.

Startups in Kenya have focused on different strategies including finding new and more efficient ways to serve consumers.

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