The 6 African Unicorn Startups: List of Unicorns in Africa 2022

African unicorn startups - list of unicorns in africa

Unicorns in Africa are rare in every sense. Privately held companies worth over $1 billion are not easy to come across on the African continent, in this post, we’ll showcase the 6 African unicorn startups that currently exist.

In our globalized world, unicorns have saturated popular culture.

You can find them on almost everything. From children’s Tv and toys to Adult T-shirts. Even the business world isn’t left out of this unicorn craze.

We now have decacorns (companies valued at over $10 billion) and hectocorns (companies valued at over $100 billion).

African unicorn startups are far and in between compared with their US, Asian and European counterparts.

The Truth of Unicorns

While some people see Unicorns as a product of technological progress and innovation, others believe it is a sign of a bubble in the industry.

The value of unicorns is primarily based on their growth potential and expected development than their actual financial performance. 

Unicorn valuations do not always reflect reality. Some of these unicorns are yet to turn a profit despite their abnormal high valuations. In 2018, a list of 15 US tech companies that went public in 2018 had combined revenue of $25 billion and a combined loss of $6 billion. 

Companies are able

to grow rapidly into unicorn status by either adopting a get big fast strategy, through buyouts from larger companies, by offering an IPO, accessing more private capital or taking advantage of tech advancements.

List of Unicorns in Africa

  • Flutterwave
  • Chipper Cash
  • Interswitch
  • Opay
  • Wave
  • Andela

African Unicorn Startups

1. Flutterwave


Valuation: $3 Billion
Total Funding Raised: $234.7 Million
: Fintech
Subsectors: Payments, E-commerce, Creator Economy, APIs, Business Lending & Incorporation.
Acquisitions: Disha

Founded in Lagos in 2016, by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Olugbenga Agboola and Adeleke Adekoya, Flutterwave has flourished into one of the top fintech companies in Africa.

Flutterwave’s Flywheel has made it one of the most valuable African unicorn startups.

This startup made it into the list of unicorns in Africa in 2021, surpassing the $1 Billion mark, however, its valuation stands a $3 Billion last we checked.

Meanwhile, this Flutterwave has been rocked with accusations of insider trading and employee harassment from top management. Its recent scandal is a corruption case with Kenyan authorities.

Flutterwave is on an expansion in Africa and is available in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania with more African countries to come.

2. Chipper Cash

Valuation: $2 Billion
Total Funding Raised: $302.2 Million
Sector: Fintech
Subsectors: Remittance, Payments, Mobile Money, Wealthtech

Chipper cash was founded in 2014 by Ugandan-born Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled as an African cross-border remittance startup.

Chipper cash crossed the $1 billion mark in 2021 and joined the African unicorn startups club.

The African fintech’s last fundraise was a $150 million Series C round extension in its bit to fuel plans for rapid expansion as well as become one of the unicorns in Africa.

Chipper Cash is present in seven African countries including Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya. 

Chipper Cash is essentially a P2P cross-border mobile money transfer service with over 3 million users. it also provides other services like bill payment and internet shopping.

3. Interswitch

Valuation: $1 Billion
Total Funding Raised: $320.5 Million
Sector: Fintech
Subsectors: Digital Payments, Digital Commerce
Acquisitions: eClat Healthcare, Vanso

Launched in 2002 in Nigeria by Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch has come a long way in its bid to digitize Nigeria’s predominantly cash-based economy.

It is one of the African unicorn startups that is a fintech. Interswitch joined the Unicorns in Africa club in 2019 when Visa acquired a 20% stake for $200 million in the company.

Interswitch is an integrated digital payments company highly focused on commerce. The company also maintains an array of interconnected data centres in Africa.

Interswitch is a pioneer in the Fintech landscape in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole.

This startup has to date provided over 22 million debit and credit cards through its Verve offering, with thousands of businesses using its platform.

Interswitch is present in Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria with plans for more expansion across Africa.

4. Opay

Opay App

Valuation: $2 Billion
Total Funding Raised: $570 Million
Sector: Fintech
Subsectors: Digital Payments, Mobile Money, Super App, On-demand Services
Acquisitions: eClat Healthcare, Vanso

OPay is an African-focused fintech with Chinese owners, it was founded in 2018.

Opay’s main play has always been to be the Super App of Africa. A single place to access on-demand services that include bike hailing services, logistics services, payment services, e-commerce, and even food services.

Opay raised $400 million which helped the company get into the list of unicorns in Africa as they became valued at $1.5 billion after the raise.

Opay is backed by some big hitters that include SoftBank, IDG Capital, and Sequoia Capital China amongst other investors.

OPay lets consumers send and receive money, pay bills and perform other online transactions.  

This African neobank is currently worth over $2 billion and has raised a total of $570 million over 3 funding rounds with its last round being a Series C round.

5. Wave

Wave Mobile Money

Valuation: $1.7 Billion
Total Funding Raised: $291.9 Million
Sector: Fintech
Subsectors: Mobile Money

Wave is a mobile money account provider that kicked off in Senegal in 2018. This African Unicorn was founded by Drew Durbin and Lincoln Quirk, the same founders of remittance company, SendWave,

Wave accounts featured low fees, deposits, bill payments and withdrawals for consumers.

Wave raised $200 million in a Series A round which made it one of the African unicorn startups as it reached a valuation of $1.7 billion. Making it the first francophone African unicorn. Quite the big deal

6. Andela

andela profile

Valuation: $1.5 Billion
Total Funding Raised: $381 Million
Sector: Talent
Subsectors: Human Resources, B2B, Consulting

Andela was launched in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2014 by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Ian Carnevale, Jeremy Johnson and Christiana Sass, as a technology company that connects software developers from Africa and other emerging markets with global clients.

It also started out addressing the developer and engineering shortage on the continent via boot camps.

But it moved away from this modest to a model focused on global senior developer talent

Andela raised $200 million in a Series E round led by the Softbank Group. Which led the talent company to join the African unicorn startups club as it became valued at $1.5 billion.

However, does no longer sees itself as an African company as it looks to become the worlds leading source of global technology talent with its presence in 5 continents.

Andela has raised a total of $381 million.

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