BD Insider 196: Techstars Toronto backs 10 African startups in 2023 summer cohort

10 African startups selected for Techstars Toronto's 2023 summer cohort. We also curated other noteworthy information including opportunities for African founders and Nigerian SMEs.

Africa accounts for 40% of the accelerator's investment portfolio.
Techstars in Africa 

Yesterday, Techstars Toronto announced that it has made its 100th investment after six years of its existence. Interestingly, Africa accounts for 40% of the accelerator's investment portfolio.

"Africa in general and Nigeria in particular as a key market we [Techstars] wanted to be in," Techstars CEO Maëlle Gavet said last year during a trip to Lagos. According to Sunil Sharma, managing director of Techstars Toronto, “What has happened is that the overall performance of Techstars has been very good, in part because of the [previous] African companies.”

“So to answer the question of why we are doubling down on Africa, we are actually more than quadrupling down and it is because we see the future,” Sunil added.

Techstars runs over 40 accelerators globally, including the recently launched Lagos-based outpost. Available data on the Techstars startup directory shows that aside from the Techstars Barclays Accelerator (that was held in Cape Town), more African startups are accepted into Techstars Toronto.

According to Maëlle Gavet, Canada has a more welcoming visa system for Africans compared to the other locations where the accelerator holds. "So it just makes it much easier for them to go to the Toronto program than it would be to many other Western programs," she said.

In this brief, we will explore the African startups in the latest batch of the Techstars Toronto accelerator. We also curated other noteworthy information including opportunities for African founders and Nigerian SMEs.

📰 The Weekend Brief

The news: Techstars Toronto reached its 100th investment milestone with the announcement of its 2023 summer class.

"From global payment companies and credit scoring for immigrants to international student sourcing and rental housing affordability to cross-border real estate, AI ethics, and healthcare solutions, to cyber risk assessment, and last-mile drone delivery, these 24 startups touch upon many pressing trends in today's world," Sunil said in a statement seen by

Who are the African Techstars? Of the 24 startups selected for this batch, 10 are Africans; as usual, Nigerian and fintech startups dominated the list.

  • Payfi (Nigeria): In 2019, Payfi was launched by Philips Akinyele Seun Sanni, and Matthew Igho as a pivot from Osbit Computing. The BNPL startup helps international students access affordable housing.
  • Chimoney (Nigeria): Founded by Uchi Nick Uchibeke in 2020, Chimoney is a fintech startup that allows users to seamlessly send money globally via Emails, Phones, or Twitter, and easily cash out through Banks, Mobile Wallets, Crypto, Gift Cards, and more.
  • (Nigeria): This a platform that is helping African immigrants in the Diaspora access seamless financial services. The startup was founded by Oluwatomisin Kolawole, Olarinde Olokuntoye, and Ayokunle Adesanya.
  • Cutstruct (Nigeria): CutStruct is a building material marketplace, driving efficiency and transparency in construction in Africa.
  • Oval (Nigeria): Founded in 2022, Oval Finance enables fintechs, neobanks, and other institutions to provide customers with DeFi-enabled products. The fintech startup describes itself as the "finance OS for growing businesses".
  • Hulugram (Ethiopia): Enabling social engagement for over 30 million internet users in Ethiopia via a chat-based platform.
  • Ladder (Ghana): AI-powered wealth management for people and businesses providing personalized financial advisory and accountancy services.
  • Seso (Ghana): Leveraging advanced technology and deep industry knowledge, Seso Global introduces trust and transparency to the African Real Estate market.
  • MPOST (Kenya): MPost empowers individuals in the developing world with virtual addresses, by using mobile numbers as official addresses for KYC, insurance, banking, and eCommerce, thereby building a digital infrastructure for seamless access and exchange.
  • CatalyzU (South Africa): CatalyzU vets, trains, & places Africa's leading talent at global startups.

Know more: "On October 4 and 5, Techstars Toronto will celebrate the founders graduating from this cohort with two Demo Days. We invite you to attend," Sharma said.

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👀What else happened this week?

  • Enza Capital closed a $58 million funding round: Enza Capital had closed its second fund bringing the total amount raised to $58 million. The VC also launched a partnership program, giving part ownership of the firm to the founders they back.
  • Revio raised $5 million seed round: South African fintech, Revio secured $5.2M in seed funding to advance African payment optimization. This comes not up to a year after their $1.1M pre-seed raise.
  • Root raised $1.5 million for European expansion: South African insurtech startup, Root, has secured $1.5 million in funding to accelerate its expansion efforts, further building on its achievements in both its domestic market and abroad.
  • These eight podcasts give the latest updates on African tech: The tech ecosystem in Africa has experienced substantial growth in recent years. These podcasts offer valuable insights and discussions on the latest trends and happenings in the ecosystem. Happy listening!


  • For startup founders: Become the next YC-backed startup: Y Combinator is accepting applications from startups for the Winter 2024 funding cycle. The deadline for on-time applications is October 13.
  • For Nigerian SMEs: Google is now accepting applications for the Hustle Academy Fund exclusively for Nigerian SMEs. Take advantage of the opportunity to apply before the deadline on October 12, 2023. Apply here! 

We were listening to Spotify's Afrobeats Mix while curating this brief.

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Have a great weekend!

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