BD Insider, Letter 144

Letter 144 features African startups, Shekel Mobility and Rollstack in YC Winter 2023 batch, Releaf's $3.3M pre-series A, Ghana's e-pharmacy platform (GNEPP) and more.

BD Insider, Letter 144
Shekel Mobility management team

This is the first letter of 2023, welcome to the new year! We look forward to bringing you more impressive reporting about the impact of technology in Africa.

As usual, this will be an exciting ride.

In Letter 144, we examine:

  • African companies in Y Combinator 2023 winter batch
  • Nigerian agritech, Releaf's $3.3 million pre-series A
  • the launch of an e-pharmacy platform by Ghana authorities

and other noteworthy information like:

  • Zero To Scale featuring Uzoma Ayogu, co-founder and CTO, Releaf
  • opportunities, events, interesting reads and others

The Big Three!

Y Combinator lists two African companies in the 2023 winter batch

The News: Nigeria-based mobility fintech, Shekel Mobility and Morocco-founded Rollstack has been listed among the 71 global companies participating in the Y Combinator (YC) 2023 winter batch.

It is unclear if this which was released in late December 2022 is the final list of participants in the batch. Oftentimes, YC updates its directory to add more companies that have been accepted, we will let you know of any additions.

Meet Shekel Mobility and Rollstack: Founded in 2021 by Sanmi Olukanmi, Benjamen Oladokun and Valentine Mayaki—alumni of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife—Shekel Mobility is a neobank and trading platform for auto dealers in emerging markets, starting from Nigeria.

Unlike other mobility fintech that works with only established car dealers, Shekel Mobility provides financing for all tiers of car dealers across the continent. "Small and medium-scale car dealers control a large percentage of the market in Africa," Benjamen, co-founder and chief business officer of Shekel Mobility told

Since its launch, the company has worked with over 1000 dealers to finance more than 3000 vehicles. "We are happy to engage strategic partners like YC on this ambitious but exciting journey of building the largest Auto dealership ecosystem powering $10 billion dollars by the year 2025," Benjamen added.

The other African company in the YC W23 batch is Rollstack, a Morocco-founded company that helps its users create stunning and high-quality visualizations in minutes, embed data, and automate the creation of data-driven decks and docs - all within their favourite tools; Google Suite, Notion and Powerpoint.

Shekel Mobility, the neobank and trading platform for car dealers in Africa.

We are on a mission to make car dealerships accessible to everyone. Shekel Mobility offers a simplified finance and operations platform for auto dealers: enabling them to grow sustainable businesses.

Learn more about Shekel Mobility

This is partner content.

Contact: hello[at]benjamindada[dot]com

Nigerian agritech, Releaf secures $3.3 million pre-series A

Releaf co-founders; Uzoma Ayogu (CTO) and Ikenna Nzewi (CEO)

The news: Nigerian agritech company, Releaf has raised $3.3 million pre-series A in a funding round led by Samurai Incubate Africa with participation from Consonance Investment Managers and other investors.

The new funding will support the launch of two new technologies: Kraken II, a portable version of its nut de-sheller machine and SITE, a geospatial mapping application that informs the most profitable positioning of food processing assets.

"SITE and Kraken II are the next steps in our plan to fundamentally transform the efficiency of agricultural supply chains in Africa and we are excited to have partnered with an exceptional cohort of investors and collaborators to roll out these technologies," Uzoma Ayogu, CTO and co-founder of Releaf, said in a statement shared with

SITE was developed in collaboration with Stanford University’s Professor David Lobell, a MacArthur Fellow, and Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, whose team refined the age identification process for oil palm trees in Nigeria.

Why it matters: Africa will represent 40% of the human population by the end of the 21st century and the fast-moving consumer goods market will emerge as its first globally relevant industrial sector. Releaf’s technology is designed to accelerate this industrialization while ensuring inclusive success for the planet, farmers, food factories, and consumers in one of the greatest economic opportunities globally.

According to Ayogu, "the biggest benefit to farmers with this new evolution of Kraken and SITE is that many offer farmers poor prices because they have to pay a lot for logistics. But now that we can eliminate 80% of the logistics costs and process much closer to the farmers, we can pass a lot of that profit back to them while also keeping more of it for ourselves while improving even the quality of the end product."

Zoom out: Since its launch in 2021, Releaf has used its supply chain technology to process more than 10 million kilograms of palm nuts and grown its monthly revenue 7X year on year. The company has also secured more than $100 million in supply contracts from leading consumer goods manufacturers, including Presco, PZ Cussons, and more. The company’s valuation has tripled since its seed round a year ago, according to a statement shared with

💬 The Insider's perspective

Last week, Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari, signed the Mental Health Bill into law. The law will replace the Lunacy Act of 1958 condemned by mental health experts as “outdated and inhuman”.

We asked Hauwa Ojeifo, the founder of She Writes Women—a non-profit organization focused on providing mental health support to Nigerians—about the significance of this new law.

"The law is the first step to ensuring that people with mental health conditions are free from torture, discrimination and other inhuman practices that plague the mental health system in Nigeria," she said.

In February 2020, Hauwa became the first Nigerian with a mental health condition to testify at the National Assembly public hearing for the then Mental Health Bill.

Ghana launches national e-pharmacy platform

Ghana's vice president, Mahamudu Bawumia at the GNEPP launch in Accra

The news: About two years after Ghana's vice president, Mahamudu Bawumia urged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to digitise pharmaceutical services, the West African country in collaboration has officially launched the Ghana National Electronic Pharmacy Platform (GNEPP).

The platform which had its pilot launch in July 2022 is now available for public usage in Ghana. "Ghana [is now] the first country in Africa and one of only a few countries in the world with an operational national scale e-pharmacy platform," Bawumia stated when announcing the launch on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.

Why it matters: According to Bawumia, GNEPP will be part of the country's new pharmaceutical digital economy to boost pharmaceutical sales and generate revenue. "GNEPP will also result in less “Wahala” [means problem] for Ghanaians in the pharmacy space," he added.

How it works: Users will need a Ghana Card to register on the platform. With a mobile phone, users can request prescriptions, order medicine, and make payments, which will be delivered. Aside from the website, GNEPP is also accessible via USSD code.

The platform has a directory of approved pharmacies and hospitals that users can access for offline activities.  

📽️ Zero to Scale with Releaf co-founder and CTO

In 2018, a local media company named YC backed Nigerian agritech company, Releaf Africa as one of the startups that could die that year. Four years after, Releaf has built a multimillion-dollar business with over $10.6 million in funding.

In this episode, co-founder and CTO, Uzoma Ayogu tells us the full story of Releaf's origin and growth.

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📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

💼 Opportunities


We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

🗓️ Events

  • In Nairobi, Kenya from February 15 - 16, 2023: The Africa Tech Summit is a gathering of tech leaders from the African ecosystem and international players under one roof. Register to attend.
  • Happening in Johannesburg from March 16-17, 2023: The Blockchain Africa Conference 2023 will focus on the application of blockchain technology across public and private sectors by global business leaders, organisations and innovators. Reserve a seat.  

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