The Secret to African Startup Success - 3 Common Trends to Follow

The secret to African Startups success
Image by Peng Boris


Amidst global economic ups and downs, a remarkable story is unfolding in the heart of Africa. The enduring spirit of entrepreneurship is gaining fresh life, blending tradition with innovation. Startups across the continent are tapping into modern trends to reshape industries and boost economies.

While the world's startup funding encountered a formidable 55% downturn year-on-year in the third quarter of 2022, the African startup scene has been painting a different picture. Defying the odds, these dynamic enterprises collectively amassed a substantial $4.85 billion by the closing of December – an impressive 4.75% surge compared to the preceding year.

Funding Raised by African Start-ups
Funding Raised by African Start-ups: Source -

From the bustling avenues of Lagos to the burgeoning tech enclaves of Nairobi, the African startup ecosystem is embarking on a transformative odyssey into the 21st century. Armed with technological dexterity, astute business acumen, and an audacious spirit, these startups are weaving a tapestry of innovation that promises to reshape industries and propel economies forward.

But what makes these African startups stand out in a world facing economic challenges?

In this article, we uncover the core of this exciting development, diving into a variety of trends that are propelling African startups forward.

1. Modernized Digital Presence

A report by Statista reveals that over 580 million people in Africa are now connected to the internet. This number amounts to 13% of global internet users.

This digital transformation is having a profound impact on African startups, who are increasingly embracing digital technologies to reach new customers, build brand awareness, and grow their businesses.

Here are a few ways that African startups are modernizing their digital presence:

a. Building websites:

Websites, once considered optional, are now fundamental tools for startups to establish credibility and reach global audiences. From e-commerce platforms revolutionizing traditional retail to service providers connecting consumers with trusted professionals, the digital footprint is extending its reach across the continent.

Websites should be easy to navigate and should provide clear information about the startup's products or services.

For example:

  • Jumia, a prominent e-commerce platform in Africa, boasts an easily navigable website that offers transparent product details.
  • Fapshi, a Cameroonian startup, presents a suite of user-friendly tools for seamless payment collection, management, and disbursement.
  • Moove, a technology-driven car finance platform for mobility entrepreneurs, optimizes productivity with its data-powered approach.

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b. Using social media

Most African startups have adeptly harnessed the potential of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to create meaningful connections with prospective clients and elevate brand recognition. These startups are strategically crafting engaging and resonant content that not only captures the essence of their offerings but also resonates with their target audience. This content is then strategically shared across various social media channels to seamlessly drive significant traffic to their robust websites, fostering a symbiotic relationship between their online presence and social engagement.

For example, Flutterwave, a payments technology company in Africa, has a strong social media presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

They use these platforms to share news about their company, announce new products, and engage with their customers.

c. Digital Marketing:

Finally, African startups are also investing in digital marketing to reach a wider audience and generate more leads.

Digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses a variety of online marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and email marketing.

For example, Aura, the Uber of emergency services in Africa, uses digital marketing to reach potential candidates. They use SEO to ensure that their website appears high in search results, and they use PPC advertising to reach people who are searching for keywords related to their business.

By modernizing their digital presence, African startups are positioning themselves for growth and success in the years to come.

2. The increasing focus on mobile payments

Another significant trend transforming the African startup landscape is the increasing focus on mobile payments. As traditional banking services often face limitations in accessibility and reach, mobile payment solutions have emerged as a catalyst for financial inclusion, revolutionizing the way transactions are conducted across the continent.

Mobile money has swiftly permeated the African business ecosystem, becoming an integral part of everyday transactions. Striking statistics underscore the immense popularity of this payment method. According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest mobile money account penetration globally, with nearly 21% of adults using mobile money accounts. Notably, countries like Kenya and Uganda have become torchbearers of this trend, boasting over 60% of adults engaging in mobile money transactions.

Adults with Mobile Money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa
Adults with Mobile Money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa: Source -

This surge can be attributed to the convenience and accessibility mobile money offers, particularly in regions where traditional banking infrastructure may be limited.

African startups are capitalizing on this mobile money revolution by seamlessly integrating mobile payment options into their websites. By doing so, they tap into the convenience that customers seek, ultimately streamlining their purchase process and driving conversions.

For example, Konga, a Nigerian e-commerce platform, has adeptly integrated mobile money payments, enabling customers to complete transactions swiftly and securely using their mobile wallets. This approach not only boosts customer trust but also reflects the startup's keen understanding of local preferences.

The popularity of mobile money has also led to the rise of startups that streamline the integration of mobile money into websites and apps. These startups provide APIs and SDKs that make it easy for businesses to add mobile money payments to their platforms.

For example, Zitopay, Fapshi, and Campay, Cameroonian Start-ups offer robust payment infrastructure that enables businesses to effortlessly accept mobile money payments alongside other methods. The success and expansion of such startups mirror the growing demand for seamless payment solutions in the African business ecosystem.

The intensifying focus on mobile payments within African startups reflects a transformative shift in consumer behavior and preferences. The statistics highlighting the widespread adoption of mobile money underscore the significance of this trend. By embracing this wave, startups are not only enhancing customer experience but also tapping into a thriving ecosystem of mobile money enablers.

3. Global Investor Interest: The Influx of Capital

Drawing the attention of investors from around the world, African startups have stepped into the limelight as engines of innovation and progress. This heightened recognition has translated into a remarkable surge of financial support, with substantial funding pouring into these ventures.

In 2022, the African tech startup ecosystem experienced a pivotal milestone, as investment in these ventures surpassed the $3 billion mark for the first time. This remarkable achievement underscores the increasing confidence and interest that global investors have in Africa's entrepreneurial landscape. This surge in funding represents a staggering 80% increase compared to the previous year, highlighting the exponential growth trajectory of African startups and their potential to deliver substantial returns on investment.

The sectors that have captured the highest investor interest in African startups include fintech, e-commerce, health tech, and logistics. Fintech, in particular, has emerged as a powerhouse, accounting for a significant portion of investment inflows.

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The influx of capital has not only fueled the growth of existing startups but has also paved the way for the emergence of new ventures. The number of active tech hubs and incubators across the continent has witnessed substantial growth, providing vital support and resources to nurture the next generation of African startups. For instance, there are currently over 700 active tech hubs in Africa, serving as vibrant ecosystems that foster collaboration, mentorship, and access to funding opportunities.


The African startup ecosystem is one of promise, potential, and boundless opportunities. As these startups continue to innovate, disrupt industries, and drive economic development, they are rewriting the narrative of Africa's entrepreneurial landscape. With modernization, mobile payments, and global investor interest as catalysts, African startups are poised to leave an indelible mark on the 21st-century innovation and growth landscape. The journey of African startups is an inspiring one, and the world eagerly watches as these trailblazers make history and shape the future.


1. What are the biggest challenges facing African startups?

While the continent is brimming with innovation and holds immense potential, African startups grapple with several challenges, including:

  • Limited access to funding: Due to the perceived high risk, investors are often hesitant to invest in early-stage startups. This lack of funding hinders their growth and ability to compete in the global market.
  • Regulatory hurdles: Navigating complex and bureaucratic regulations can be time-consuming and expensive for startups, stifling their growth and innovation.

2. How can African startups improve their chances of getting funding?

Here are some ways African startups can increase their chances of securing funding:

  • Develop a strong business plan: A well-defined plan that clearly outlines the startup's vision, target market, product or service, financial projections, and growth strategy is essential to attract investors.
  • Build a strong team: Having a team with the necessary skills, experience, and passion is crucial to convince investors of the startup's potential for success.
  • Gain traction and validate the market: Demonstrate early traction through customer acquisition, pilot programs, or partnerships to showcase the viability of the startup's idea.
  • Network with investors: Attend industry events, connect with angel investors and venture capitalists, and leverage online platforms to reach potential investors.

3. What are the long-term implications of the success of African startups for the continent?

The success of African startups can have a significant positive impact on the continent, including:

  • Economic growth and development: A thriving startup ecosystem can create jobs, attract foreign investment, and diversify African economies.
  • Improved social outcomes: Startups addressing social challenges can contribute to poverty reduction, improved healthcare, and better access to education.
  • Technological advancement: African startups can play a leading role in developing and adopting new technologies, positioning the continent at the forefront of global innovation.
  • Empowerment and inspiration: The success stories of African startups can inspire and empower young people across the continent to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and contribute to a brighter future.

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