African Tech Startups Face Tough Times In 2024


Last year was a challenging period for African tech startups, and the year 2024 seems to present a mixed bag of opportunities and obstacles for these companies.

Key Takeaway

African tech startups faced a tough year in 2023, with funding challenges and market corrections impacting growth-stage companies the most. The funding downturn has prompted a shift towards sustainable business models and a focus on profitability, while also highlighting the importance of transparent investor dynamics and governance for the long-term success of the ecosystem.

Tough Year for African Startups

African tech startups faced a tough period last year with venture capital becoming hard to secure and many companies resorting to bridge and down rounds. This led to a wave of fire sales, layoffs, and closures across the continent.

Consequences of Funding Decline

The overall amount of VC funding raised in Africa dipped significantly, impacting the growth-stage companies the most. Startups that had previously enjoyed bountiful funding and high valuations now found themselves struggling to survive as investors shifted focus from “growth at all costs” to profitability.

Impact on Companies

Several prominent companies, including WhereIsMyTransport and Sendy, were unable to raise fresh funding and had to shut down. Many other growth-stage companies also faced challenges and were forced to scale back operations or conduct layoffs to cope with the funding crunch.

Challenges in Funding Sources

Most venture funding in Africa comes from foreign VCs, making the ecosystem heavily reliant on external sources. With foreign VCs becoming more selective and holding off on new investments, African enterprises are finding it increasingly difficult to secure funding.

Adapting to the Funding Winter

Amid the funding downturn, African companies are exploring alternative funding sources such as private equity funds, debt financing, and bridge rounds. However, the need for African investors committed to the ecosystem throughout all seasons is emphasized as crucial for bridge rounds to be viable.

Lessons Learned and Opportunities Ahead

The funding challenges have acted as a litmus test for African startups, highlighting the need for sustainable business models and a focus on profitability. It has also emphasized the importance of understanding local market dynamics and building resilience in a low-resource environment.

Future Outlook and Strategic Moves

Experts anticipate a more sustainable ecosystem to emerge from the funding winter, with opportunities for established businesses to thrive. However, challenges remain in terms of exits and the limited options for growth-stage companies in Africa.

Investor Dynamics and Governance

The relationship between growth-stage founders and investors is crucial, with the need for balanced and transparent dynamics to ensure the health and sustainability of the tech ecosystem. Thorough research on potential investors, due diligence, and transparent governance structures are emphasized as essential for the success of African tech startups.

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