In Letter 148, we examine:
- the latest on Flutterwave's fraud allegations in Kenya
- how Meta is preparing for Nigeria's 2023 general elections
- why Kenyan logistics startup, Sendy is ceasing on-ground operations in Nigeria
and other noteworthy information like:
- the latest African tech startup deal
- Zero to Scale with Nguvu Health co-founder and CMO
- opportunities, interesting reads and more
The big three!
Flutterwave cleared of fraud allegations in Kenya
The news: Nigerian fintech company, Flutterwave has been cleared of money laundering allegations levelled against it by the Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) seven months ago, which included the freezing of about $56.7 million in the company's account.
The withdrawal of the charges against the fintech unicorn was verified by its lawyer, Robert Gitau, according to Bloomberg. Since the public disclosure of these accusations in August 2022, the company maintained that it was false and that the company was "operating in full accordance with the law".
This latest ruling on the allegations is coming two months after ARA cleared two other Nigerian fintech companies—Kora and Kandon of similar charges, both companies were investigated by ARA at the same time as Flutterwave.
Why it matters: Valued at over $3 billion, Flutterwave's Nasdaq IPO plans were stalled last year due to a myriad of scandals including insider trading, sexual allegations and regulatory challenges.
Although Flutterwave believes that "public market investors will value the company's growth, market-leading position, and marquee customer base at a premium to our private funding valuations," it will continue to "fund operations through existing cash or private capital," according to TechCabal.
Zoom in: Despite the withdrawal of the charges against Flutterwave, it's unclear if the company is now licensed to operate in the East African country.
Recall that in July 2022, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said that "Flutterwave and Chipper Cash is not licensed to operate as a remittance provider or...as a payment service provider in Kenya". Within the same period, CBK through the Deputy Director of Bank Supervision, Matu Mugo instructed CEOs of financial institutions in Kenya to "cease from dealing with Flutterwave".
However, Flutterwave argued that it has been in "constant engagement" with CBK regarding the acquisition of an operational licence. The fintech company reportedly applied for the licence in 2019. "Let's kill the narrative of Nigerian fintechs "breaking the laws", those [Kenyan fintech] licenses are never easy to get," Victor Asemota, an African investor tweeted.
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How Meta is preparing for Nigeria's 2023 general elections
The news: Ahead of Nigeria's 2023 general elections, Meta has disclosed that it will activate its Elections Operations Centre to curb the spread of misinformation and remove harmful content across its social media platforms—Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
How it will work: In a statement seen by Benjamindada.com, Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa said that Meta will work with independent fact-checking organisations in Nigeria—AFP, Africa Check, Dubawa and Reuters, to review and rate content in English, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.
"When content is rated 'false' or 'partly false' by these fact-checkers, we attach warning labels to the content and reduce its distribution in Facebook Feed so people are less likely to see it," she stated. Meta has also partnered with local radio stations to create radio dramas tagged #NoFalseNewsZone.
To address virality on WhatsApp, the company will limit the ability of users to forward messages for multi times. Ms Ikenze said that "any message that has been forwarded once can only be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than the previous limit of five".
Meanwhile, Advertisers seeking to run ads related to social issues, elections or politics on Meta apps in Nigeria will be required to undergo a verification process to prove that they are residents of the country.
Zoom in: Meta has supported Yiaga Africa, a Nigeria-founded non-partisan voter education non-profit, through a donation to develop a voter education chatbot on WhatsApp. "We are working closely with election authorities, including The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other local partners in Nigeria to ensure we’re preparing appropriately for the specific challenges an election brings," she added.
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Sendy ceases "on-ground operations" in Nigeria
The news: Kenyan logistics company, Sendy will no longer consign goods within Nigeria. "We have decided to cease on-the-ground operations and focus instead on getting the right product," Nigeria General Manager, Daniel Edeimu, said.
However, the company which launched in Nigeria in 2021 will continue to connect sellers to logistics providers in the West African country. "Sendy as a fully integrated tech solution will receive orders via e-commerce plugins, ERPs or API and support with finding the best logistics partners and advising the sellers," he added, stating that the company plans to offer additional services like financial services and storefronts.
Zoom in: Sendy has continued to face challenges amidst the global downturn. Within two months in 2022, the Kenyan startup reduced its workforce by 30%, this latest decision by the company will likely lead to layoffs. The company also deactivated one of its products, Sendy Supply to double down on Sendy Fulfillment—an e-commerce platform that enables businesses to distribute their products.
Zoom out: Last year, the company intended to raise $100 million to boost its expansion and improve trade efficiency but it did not come through. However, Sendy secured undisclosed funding from a Japanese VC firm, MOL PLUS Co., Ltd, at the time, the company said that it will use the funds to scale its fulfilment services in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Cote d'Ivoire.
📽️ Zero to Scale with Nguvu Health co-founder and CMO
Aside from being a rarely discussed issue, mental health professionals are scarce in Africa, with only one psychiatrist per 500,000 Africans, which is 100 times less than the recommended number. In Nigeria, the figures are even lower, with only 300 psychiatrists for the over 50 million people that suffer from mental disorders.
In this episode of #ZeroToScale, co-founder and CMO, Juliet Odumosu talks about Nguvu Health. A Nigerian #healthtech startup that is providing on-demand access to clinical psychologists on the continent via its digital platform, thereby bridging the aforementioned gap.
💰 State of funding in Africa
About nine months after its launch, ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator announced its pioneer cohort comprising 12 African startups from Nigeria and Kenya—eight of these companies have at least one female co-founder. According to the global accelerator, each of the selected startups will receive up to $120,000.
After a one-year hiatus, Egyptian fintech, MNT-Halan became the latest African unicorn following the announcement of a $400 million investment last week.
Find out more about the venture investment between Jan. 29 - Feb. 4, 2023.
Here are other important stories in the media:
- Why are Nigerian fintechs not building a NIBSS competitor: In this Twitter thread, Benjamin Dada gave a breakdown of how NIBSS works, and why private players might not be able to build an exact product.
- How to set up your Starlink hardware in Nigeria: Following the launch of Starlink in Nigeria, Dara wrote a guide on how to purchase, onboard and set up Starlink's hardware kit in Nigeria.
- Mobile Money scams in Malawi: According to Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, cybercriminals steal about $117,000 via mobile money transfers every month.
- 1 in 4 Africans was affected by internet shutdowns in 2022: A report by Surfshark states that 4.2 billion people were affected by mass internet censorship in 2022 globally. Asia accounts for nearly half of all new cases in 2022, while Africa comes in second.
- Kenya licenses 12 more digital credit providers: The Central Bank of Kenya has issued digital credit providers' licences to 12 more lenders in the digital loans market, taking the number of licensed digital lenders to 22.
We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.
Product & Design
- Flutterwave — Product Manager (Francophone Africa)
- Okra — Technical Product Manager
- PwC — Senior UI/UX Designer
Data & Engineering
Admin & Growth
- Moove — Customer Success Executive (Risk)
- Palmpay — Senior Marketing Manager
- Google — Director, Large Customer Sales, West Africa
- For African entrepreneurs: The Tony Elumelu Foundation is currently receiving applications for its 2023 entrepreneurship programme; a 12 weeks training programme with a $5000 non-refundable seed. Deadline: March 31, 2023
- For intending software engineers: ALX is offering a fully funded scholarship. No previous coding experience is required, however, applicants must be Africans with access to a laptop or desktop.
- For data enumerators: Stears is hiring Data Entry Contractors to support its work on Nigeria’s 2023 elections.