Startups Weekly: Chinese investors double their investment in African startups

by MMC
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Hello and welcome to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s biggest startup and venture capital news stories. Before we get into today’s topic, let’s catch up a little. Last week I wrote about Airbnb’s problems. Before that, I had noted Uber’s new “money” team.

Don’t forget that you can send me tips, suggestions and comments at kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you are new, you can subscribe to Startups Weekly here.


China’s pivot to Africa

Three African fintech startups; OPay, PalmPay and East African trucking logistics company Lori Systems, closed major fundraisers this year. On their own, the deals are not particularly noteworthy, but together they expose a new trend within the African startup ecosystem.

This year, these three companies have raised a total of $240 million in venture capital from 15 different Chinese investors, who are increasingly active in the African technology scene. TechCrunch journalist Jake Brilliantwhich covers African technology, writing that 2019 marks “the year that Chinese investors invested in the continent’s startup scene” – particularly in fintech projects. For what?

“The continent’s 1.2 billion inhabitants represent the largest share of unbanked people in the world and an underbanked population – making fintech Africa’s most promising digital sector,” notes Bright. “In previous years, the country’s interactions with African startups were relatively light compared to striking deals on infrastructure and raw materials. Chinese players investing heavily in African consumer platforms are exploring new data privacy and security issues for the continent.

Chinese investors active in Africa include Hillhouse Capital, Meituan-Dianping, GaoRong, Source Code Capital, SoftBank Ventures Asia, BAI, Redpoint, IDG Capital, Sequoia China, Crystal Stream Capital, GSR Ventures, Chinese mobile phone maker Transsion and NetEase .

Here’s more of TechCrunch’s recent coverage of startup activity in Africa:


Venture capital deals

It’s been a short week (Happy Thanksgiving, btw). But here is a little overview of the best offers of recent days.


M&A (VR edition)

Last week, Facebook announced the purchase of Beat Games, the game studio behind Beat Saber, a rhythm game that’s part Fruit Ninja, part Guitar Hero. Have you heard of the company? Maybe if you’re a gamer, but if you’re preparing this newsletter because of your interest in venture capital, this company may not have caught your attention.

For what? It’s one of the biggest success stories in VR today, but it’s just an eight-person team with no funding.

“I’m really proud that we’ve been able to build the company with this mindset of making decisions based on what’s good for the game and not what’s most profitable,” said Beat CEO Games at TechCrunch earlier this year. Learn more about the Facebook acquisition here and a detailed profile of the small team here.


Equity

If you like this newsletter, you will definitely enjoy Equity, which brings the content of this newsletter to life — in podcast form! Join me and Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm every Friday for a quick look at the week’s biggest venture capital and startup news.

This week we discussed Weekend Fund’s new vehicle, Cocoon’s new friend tracking app, and the unfortunate demise of a startup called Omni. You can listen here.

Stocks fall every Friday at 6 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Covered, Spotify and all castings.

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