Since the closing months of 2020, the Ghanaian startup ecosystem has been buzzing with excitement.
First, Zeepay got funding from UK-based investors, GoodSoil VCs, in December. This January, OZÉ, another fintech startup, raised $700,000 from investors. The back-to-back nature of the raises is an anomaly for an ecosystem that has been historically quiet.
The Ghanaian ecosystem has been slowly building over the years. Encumbered by unique challenges, including stringent regulations, companies have not been able to innovate at will.
The recent raises, however, are an indication that the ecosystem is maturing. Investors are now looking to Ghana as a destination for viable investments.
In this article, we will be looking at the top ten Ghanaian startups to watch in 2021. The list contains old-timers who have gained a strong footing in the game and new companies looking to change how Ghanaians live and do business. Here they are:
When it comes to fintech in Ghana, Zeepay is the name on most people’s lips. In December 2020, the company raised $940,000 from British investors - GoodSoil VCs. The raise was the highest disclosed round by any fintech player in the country in 2020. Run by Andrew Takyi-Appiah, a former banker, the startup is a shoo-in for Ghana’s most exciting startup to watch.
The company builds digital rails to connect digital assets like mobile money wallets, cards, ATMs, bank accounts, and digital tokens to payments, subscriptions, and international money transfer operators. Since its rise, Zeepay has announced plans to extend its mobile money services to South Africa and Rwanda.
It will be interesting to see how the company performs on its goals of scaling across Africa.
Although it is already one of the biggest software companies in Ghana, Dreamoval makes it to the list because of its extremely outstanding product - Slydepay. Formerly known as iWallet, Slydepay is, perhaps, Ghana’s most popular payments processor. The company’s API is a fan favourite among developers for collecting and making payments.
Apart from that the product “just works,” it is also the cheapest on the market. For mo-mo transactions, the fintech company charges 0.8% of transfers. Its main rival, ExpressPay, charges 1%. Telcos, on the other hand, can charge up to 2.4%.
Bitsika is perhaps the most popular name on the list outside of Ghana. Led by Atsu Davoh, the crypto startup made audacious forays into neighboring Nigeria in 2020.
After raising north of $1 million in pre-seed funding in 2019, the company announced a partnership with one of Nigeria’s biggest celebrities, Davido. The partnership has led to exponential growth in user numbers and, in turn, transaction numbers.
Although it is already early days in the year, BitSika has already announced plans to raise a Series A in 2021. The company has also hinted at new product verticals and expansion into new markets during the course of the year.
Since finishing as one of the top startups in the 2018 Kosmos Innovation Center AgriTech Challenge, Kwidex has slowly built one of Ghana’s most reliable agritech platforms to date. The company is led by Seyram Mantey, a serial entrepreneur.
Fondly nicknamed the “ThriveAgric of Ghana,” the company might not have surpassed its Nigerian counterpart in finances, but it has in reliability. While YC-backed ThriveAgric struggled to keep up with financial obligations during the thick of the pandemic, Kwidex managed to stay online in Ghana.
The agro-crowdfunding platform has become one of the easiest ways for Ghanaians to invest their money. Depending on the package being paid for, investors can earn up to 6% ROI per month.
Although it is yet to be launched, InvesSika is undoubtedly one of the ones to watch in 2021. The invest-tech company is looking to shake up the way Ghanaians invest by giving them access to globally-listed stocks.
With as little as GH₵ 60, a smartphone, and a mo-mo account, users will be able to buy and sell shares from companies listed on prestigious exchanges like the NYSE and NASDAQ.
More than just invest-tech for Ghana, InvestSika is looking to be the Robinhood for Africa. Once it launches in Ghana, the investment startup will be looking to quickly expand into other regions. It will also look to bring more capital into the Ghanain securities market by encouraging non-Ghanaians to invest in Ghanaian securities, which typically have high returns.
InvestSika is scheduled for launch at the end of Q1 2020; interested users can sign up to join the waiting list, so they are alerted once the product launches.
Zuberipay is one of the most exciting products in SubSaharan Africa at the moment. Although it is still in beta, it is one product you can bet will catch on once it is publicly available.
At the heart of it, Zuberi is a fintech product solving the personal cash-flow problem for employees. The startup allows employees to “stream” their salaries all through the year as opposed to only 12 days a year. The salaries, which are pro-rated monthly, can be withdrawn for use at any time.
In October 2020, Zuberipay CEO Julian Owusu announced in a tweet that the company had applied for and gotten an interview with Y Combinator. The announcement is of significance as only 7% of applicants into YC get to the interview stage. If any company is going to add to Ghana’s 3 YC alumni in 2021, it will be Zuberipay.
Religion remains one of the most popular aspects of human life. According to a Pew Research report from 2012, eight in ten people worldwide identify as religious. The global Christian population alone stands at around 2.3 billion people. Asoriba is a solution targeted at that market.
Asoriba is a tech solution provider for African churches. It offers improved church administration, mobile communication, and data management to its partner churches. The startup helps churches build customised mobile apps through which they can engage their community and collect donations.
Since its launch in 2015, it has signed up over 1000 churches and established its presence in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. In 2021, the startup is positioned to expand into new territories.
Boxconn is a new Logitech company looking to democratise the logistic space in Africa, starting with Ghana. The startup, which was launched in 2020, raised $100,000 pre-seed funding from MEST last year September.
The company is currently in private beta and looking to build structures around the fragmented logistic market in Ghana in order to enable all kinds of businesses to grow and scale their services without worrying about logistics again within and outside Accra. They are also really eco-friendly as their technology does route optimization for their heroes and thereby emit less carbon into the environment through their operations.
The list would not be complete without Ghana’s number one KYC product. Appruve provides easy integration for companies that need to verify user details either for compliance or best practice reasons.
In 2019, the startup won the Hague Institute of Innovation of Law Innovating Justice Challenge West Africa regional final. It also merged second at the grand finale which held in the Netherlands, Innovating Justice Forum 2020.
The KYC/Verification company has a range of API products that can be used to onboard users, validate their identity and income, and even perform searches on companies and people.
Appruve is building to be a pan-African brand. So far, it is active in more than nine countries on the continent. 2021 should see it announce more extensions into new countries.
Heny is a food discovery and delivery product. The company is one of the winners from MEST Africa’s 2020 incubator that came away with $100,00 in pre-seed funding.
The Accra-based startup is looking to shape the future of lifestyle in Africa. It’s looking to expand across Ghana and launch the mobile app version this year and it will continue to allow users to choose from a wide range of meals, including country-specific meals and dietary-specific menus. Users will also be able to review the meals they’ve eaten, leaving useful information for others.