Of acquisitions and corporate-startup partnerships in Africa

by | Apr 29, 2021

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Good day,

Oluwanifemi and Emmanuel here.

For an undisclosed sum, Kenyan customer experience management solution for African businesses, Ajua, has acquired Kenyan-based WayaWaya, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) startup. Ajua’s attraction is Janja, WayaWaya’s ML messaging and payment product.

With Janja joining other tools in Ajua’s product stack, the nine-year-old startup plans to power growth and improve the customer experience for SMEs across Africa. Its goal has always been to connect businesses with their customers while providing them with insights into better ways to serve their clients and increase sales.

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Before this acquisition, Ajua recently partnered with MTN Nigeria for MTN EnGauge, an application that offers customer management solutions.

Read more: Kenya’s Ajua acquires WayaWaya to consolidate consumer experience play in African SMEs

Talking of partnerships, Ivorian eCommerce marketplace for African fashion and arts, Afrikrea has partnered with DHL and Visa to launch a software as a service (SaaS) platform called ANKA, which means ‘Ours’ in Bambara and Djoula.

The goal is to make sure their merchants and clients get all they want from the platform seamlessly without considering other channels; hence, the need to ease logistics and payments for them via this partnership.

With ANKA, customers can manage their inventory, wallets, communicate easily, track their orders, and have access to a customised Afrikrea Visa card to ease international payments and mobile banking transactions.

For the record, Afrikrea claims to have served more than 7,000 sellers across 47 countries and buyers from 170 countries in over five years of operation.

Get more on that: Ivorian startup Afrikrea partners with DHL and Visa to launch SaaS e-commerce platform ANKA

Acquisitions in Africa’s tech space are usually strategic, and they open up room for expansion into new markets. Looking back at our coverage of the space in the past few years, there are lessons to be learnt.

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In August 2020, we talked with Nigerian serial entrepreneur, Dele Odufuye, Founder of Tsaboin, Traffic Talk, and Flobyt, and he shared some important nuggets on Tsaboin’s silent acquisition.

This is also a great time to read this: Nigerian startups considering a merger or acquisition should worry about the integration phase.

In some interesting cases, acquisitions hold symbolic implications for an entire ecosystem, a là Paystack’s. You can read our takes on how Paystack’s landmark acquisition affects Africa’s tech space and the implications for policymakers.

While digging through Techpoint Africa’s archives, we found this 2015 article, “AFB Acquires Weza Tele For $1.7m – The Largest Acquisition Of A Tech Startup In Kenya”. Since 2015, Africa has witnessed several more acquisitions.

Besides acquisitions, partnerships have played a major role in achieving interesting business solutions. A notable mention is the partnership between two startups, Canva and Nigerian print-on-demand platform, Kiakiaprint.

Listen to their partnership story here. 

Another kind is the corporate-startup partnership.

Here’s my theory on why this is becoming popular. Although armed with the reach, capital, and familiarity with the market, corporates might not always be able to innovate or iterate their business models as much as startups can. So each party bringing their edge to the table to form a symbiotic relationship is often a good deal.

So far, we’ve seen several of these corporate-startup partnerships in Africa. Most notably, US-based payment giant, Visa, has partnered with African startups like Flutterwave, PalmPay, Yoco, and Paga.

On the local front, Nigeria’s GTBank also struck a similar partnership with a fintech unicorn to develop its lifestyle platform, Habari.

Which startup acquisition or corporate-startup partnership do you think has had the most impact in recent years? Let us know what you think. Hit ‘Reply’.

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  • It was a good run for Spotify in Q1 2021. Find out how.

Have a great day!
Oluwanifemi Kolawole & Emmanuel Paul for Techpoint Africa.

Techpoint Africa
Techpoint Africa

Techpoint Africa is a digital media company that amplifies the best innovations out of Africa through its mediadata, and events.

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