Who is building Nigeria’s startups?

Feb 09, 2022|Michael Famoroti

Each year, Maxime Bayen (Catalyst Fund) and Max Cuvellier (GSMA) update Africa: The Big Deal, a database of funding rounds in the African tech ecosystem.

The Stears Business team decided to go beyond the highly vaunted headline figures—over $4 billion raised (>$5 billion according to Partech Africa)—and analyse funding data on two critical themes in the ecosystem: gender equality and education.

Specifically, we looked at data spanning the years from 2019 to 2021 so that we could build a more definitive picture of funding in the ecosystem.

Some takeaways:

  • Nigeria’s startup ecosystem is dominated by male founders with 72% of deals by founder gender being attributed to all-male founding members while female founding members account for  7%.

  • But compared to other African countries, Nigeria’s startup ecosystem is relatively progressive, lagging behind only Kenya. The proportion of deals sealed with at least one female co-founder in Nigeria was 28% compared to 16% and 20% in Egypt and South Africa respectively.

  • Regarding education, most of Nigeria’s startup CEOs graduated from foreign universities. But, of the deals involving startup CEOs that graduated from a Nigerian university, only 14% are attributed to private universities.

One thing to note in this analysis is that the data is on deals, not startups. This is an important distinction as startups can have multiple deals.

For example, Daystar Power, an off-grid solar company focused on the African commercial & industrial (C&I) market, is represented six times in the database, including a Series A, a Series B, and multiple venture debt raises. Other startups like Indicina (Fintech), 54gene (healthtech), and Mecho Autotech (automobile maintenance platform) pop up multiple times in the database.

My hunch is that the overall findings would not look particularly different if we analysed the data by startups and not deals, but it is worth noting this distinction as it means that

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