BD Insider 181: TikTok to open an office in Kenya to drive its African operations

The fintech startup said it will use the funds to expand to Europe, Asia, and MENA. We also covered TIkTok's plan to set up an office in Kenya.

BD Insider 181: TikTok to open an office in Kenya to drive its African operations

Only three nations in the world, China, Russia, and the US have ever made it to the surface of the moon, and none have ever reached the South Pole of Earth's satellite, until yesterday when India's lunar exploration mission, Chandrayaan-3 set a new bar for space exploration. This has made India the first country to reach the Moon's South Pole and also the first developing nation to get to the moon.

While no African country has the capacity to reach the moon yet, technology continues to expand the boundaries of what's possible on the continent. For instance, 60% of the researchers selected for the Gates Foundation's inaugural Global Challenge AI fund were Africans. The researchers will receive $100,000 to build AI solutions to healthcare problems across 10 African countries.

Still in the Midweek Brief, we bring you news about:

  • the $33 million Series A raise by LemFi
  • TikTok's plan to set up an office in Kenya

We've also curated some opportunities you might find interesting.

📰 The Midweek Brief

#1. Lemfi secures $33 million Series A

Ridwan Olalere and Rian Cochran, co-founders of LemFi.

The news: Lemfi (formerly Lemonade Finance) has raised $33 million Series A in a funding round led by Left Lane Capital. Y Combinator, Zrosk, Global Founders Capital, and Olive Tree also participated in the round.

With this latest funding, the fintech startup intends to expand its product offering to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. “We want to pursue more licenses to drive expansion and also build up the products,” says Rian Cochran, LemFi's co-founder.

Why it matters: Remittances to African countries constitute a significant part of the continent's GDP. Over the last decade, remittance flows to Africa have doubled, reaching $100 billion in 2022, and surpassing the funds received through Official Development Assistance and Foreign Direct Investment.

However, despite the importance of Remittances, to the continent, Africa is still the most difficult continent to send money to. This is the problem Lemfi and other African fintech startups are trying to solve.

Launched in 2020 by Ridwan Olalere and Cochran, Lemfi started by enabling low-cost remittances from Canada to Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. In 2021 the company expanded to the UK and increased its reach on the continent to enable remittances to 10 African countries. Two days ago, Lemfi added the US to its remittance corridor.

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#2. TikTok set to open African office in Kenya

Hey, Kenya, would you like to ban a social network?

Kenyan government:

The news: TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Chew, has announced that it will open an office in Kenya to oversee its operations on the continent. This comes after he met with the Kenyan President, William Ruto, following calls for the app to be banned. The move will enable TikTok to collaborate more closely with the Kenyan government to moderate content in line with community standards.

Why it matters: Kenya has the highest number of TikTok users in the world, according to the 2023 Reuters Institute Digital News report. The report also showed that TikTok was gaining ground in the distribution of news, especially among younger audiences, while legacy social media networks like Facebook were losing ground.

TikTok's growing influence has raised alarms that the social network was being used to promote violence, explicit sexual content, hate speech, and offensive behaviour among the youths. A petition last week called for the Kenyan National Assembly to ban the app.

However, instead of a ban, the Kenyan government will now work closely to moderate content on the platform and create opportunities for creators on the app to generate revenue.

Know more: Content moderation has become an increasingly important issue as social media giants confront the impact of the messages disseminated on their platforms on society.

On August 2, the Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communication, and Digital Economy announced that it would review the regulatory framework to protect social media users and combat the rise of explicit content, especially on TikTok.

Earlier this week, Somalia banned TikTok, Telegram, and online betting website 1XBet to limit the spread of indecent content and propaganda. The order gave internet service providers until today to comply.

💼 Opportunities

  • Job vacancy: Interswitch is hiring a UX designer. While Stears is looking for a Senior Research Associate
  • Accelerator: Google in Africa is inviting startups to apply for the AI First accelerator program, a 10-week equity-free accelerator program focused on Africa-centered solutions with AI and machine learning.

🗞️ In case you missed it

  • Flutterwave's IPO dream is still alive and well: The scandals and regulatory challenges the company has faced in the past year are only speed bumps on its drive to go public.
  • Unicorn fever is over, time to focus on the camels: Unicorn startups are an alluring dream, but three founders and two investors believe that Camels are a more realistic ambition for Africa's tech ecosystem, Levi Cee writes.
  • Moniepoint acquires Kenyan fintech Kopo Kopo: Only a few days after it launched its retail banking product in Nigeria, Moniepoint is entering the Kenyan market with its acquisition of Kopo Kopo.
  • Layoffs at Cellulant: Kenyan fintech startup, Cellulant has laid off 20% of its workforce as it transitions into a “product-focused strategy”.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Midweek Brief.

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Editor's Note: The line in the second story that says “Kenya has the highest number of Twitter users in the world” has been edited to “Kenya has the highest number of TikTok users in the world”.

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