Why Kenyan tech startups are salivating for slice of Nigeria, South Africa markets

Modern world

Kenyan startups are expanding their operations to some of Africa’s fast growing economies such as Nigeria, South Africa, among others, to grow their markets.

Favourable startup environments and capitals means that these growing firms can expand beyond the country with ease.

With the number of new start-ups emerging every day, more firms are set to try their luck on the continent.

Some of the startups that have expanded in Africa include Workpay, Kyanda and Twiga.

Kyanda, which is an online fintech company that offers digital financial services for business to customer (B2C) and business to business (B2B), last month entered South African after securing a regulatory approval.

Last year, it partnered with the Kenya South-Africa Chamber of Business (KESACB), an organization that seeks to promote the interests of the business community between the two countries.

 “Payments in Africa just got better. Kyanda, a Fintech startup, which was originally founded in Kenya, is finally expanding to South Africa,

“Kyanda has built a Neobank (online bank) full offering through its infrastructure to serve both individuals and businesses,” Kyanda founder Collins Kathuli says.

Through an app, a customer can access services such as utility bill payments, payment collections, disbursements to/from mobile wallets, bank accounts and card payments at their enabled merchants.

“Our expansion, which is fully bootstrap driven, aims to introduce a new convenience of mobile money in the bank dominated environment,

“Over R157 billion (US$10 billion) or (Sh118.1 million) moves between (SA) provinces every year, with people sending money to their families and friends,

“This is not only the result of the 7.7 million people who moved to other provinces for work, but it is the overall 24 million South Africans who send money to each other daily,” he adds.

To enhance operations, they have established strategic partnerships with various telco’s and utility firms to enable them to serve and process more transactions.

“We’ve gone ahead and added a local customized product known as E-Stokvel, where we are transforming the local ‘chamas’ process of transacting to a digital way of transacting,

“This has seen interest from so many Women & Men-led stokvels; where they save for their monthly groceries and perform their occasional contributions, shifting them from handling cash during their Frequent Meet-up. The Kyanda Apps are available on the Google Playstore.”

Kyanda began as an app that allows airtime purchases to different network providers such as Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel, helping customers avoid frequent visits to physical shops.

Later, it transitioned to an online fintech company offering digital financial services to B2C and B2B.

Another company that expanded is WorkPay, a Kenyan human resource (HR) and payroll solution startup.

Unlike Kyanda, the firm announced that it will be expanding its services to over 10-African countries as it sought to expand its presence on the continent.

The firm said it will be expanding to South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda in 2022.

Out of these, the company will be setting up physical and virtual offices in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Tanzania, among others.

This comes after the firm in 2020, raised Sh238.7 million (US$2.1 million) in seed funding to fuel its growth.

The investment was led by Kepple Africa Ventures (that pumped Sh11.4 million ($100,000) in the firm in 2019), Soma Capital, Musha Ventures, P1 Ventures, among other angel investors.

“We plan to be in more than 10 African countries. Among those on the pipeline are Ghana, Egypt, South Africa and all the East African Countries,” the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Paul Kimani told Business Daily in an interview.

“This is in line with our vision of being a pan-African company. From day one we knew we wanted to conquer Africa and beyond, not just Kenya.”

WorkPay, which was formerly known as TozzaPlus before it rebranded in 2019, is a cloud-based human resources management and payroll solution for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Africa.

Its time tracking and salary disbursement tools help African businesses save money and time by eliminating ghost workers from their payroll and inefficiencies associated with cash payments. 

Currently, it processes more than 300 payrolls per month from more than 400 SMBs.

Other firms that are eyeing African expansions are agri-tech company Twiga Foods and African Originals, manufacturer of African craft beverages made with Kenyan ingredients.

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