How African startups can construct multi-million greenback partnerships and acquisitions

The 12 months 2021 has set many new requirements for Africa’s tech ecosystem. As reporter Alexander Onwukwue states, “It’s the 12 months African startups normalised $100 million rounds.” It’s the 12 months francophone Africa produced its first unicorn, Wave, which raised $200 million at a $1.7 billion valuation. 

It’s additionally the 12 months of mergers and acquisitions, with over 333 M&A offers value $51 billion carried out within the first half of the 12 months alone, a 567% improve in deal worth from 2020’s $8 billion. Following Stripe’s acquisition of Paystack in a $200 million deal in 2020, fairly numerous notable acquisitions have occurred. From Flutterwave’s acquisition of Disha, MaxAB’s acquisition of Morocco’s WaystoCap, and even Piggyvest’s acquisition of Savi, firms within the ecosystem are consolidating to unravel a number of the continent’s taxing points. 

One of many greatest acquisition offers of 2021 is MFS Africa’s cope with Capricorn. In October, MFS Africa—the most important fintech interoperability hub in Africa—signed a deal to amass Capricorn Digital, one in every of Nigeria’s largest digital options and distribution firms. Whereas the quantity is undisclosed, each events confirmed that the deal is Nigeria’s “second-largest” fintech acquisition deal, second solely to Paystack’s $200 million acquisition cope with Stripe.

However how do hundred-million-dollar offers get made? And why are extra startups hitching their wagons collectively? On December 3, TechCabal introduced Dare Okoudjou, MFS Africa CEO, and Degbola Abudu, co-founder of Capricorn collectively in a dwell session to reply a few of these questions.

Huge offers begin out small

For Dare Okoudjou—who has led MFS Africa’s progress in 35 African international locations—large offers and acquisitions don’t at all times begin out as large offers. “Huge offers are carried out over time, and generally, they begin off as minority investments talks which evolve into acquisition talks,” he stated. “The primary time Degbola and I spoke in 2014, Capricorn had simply began and we—MFS Africa—we’re attempting to assist him increase cash. Quick ahead to 2020, and we’re talking about acquisitions.”

Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa, and Degbola Abudu, co-founder of Capricorn build multi-million dollar deals
Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa, and Degbola Abudu, co-founder of Capricorn.

On Capricorn’s finish, Degbola Abudu and his group had been fundraising for some time, and whereas they weren’t planning on getting acquired, the deal was a sensible subsequent step for them. “Initially, MFS Africa was presupposed to be an investor. Conversations for this current deal began even earlier than COVID, and by the top of 2020, when it grew to become clearer, we had been extra open to it. There have been many conversations between myself and Dare, and lots of extra between myself and the Capricorn board.”

Whereas Capricorn’s motivation for taking the deal was geared in the direction of sustainability, MFS Africa’s was focused at progress and growth. “MFS has agent networks in 35 SSA international locations and the chance to merge that with what exists in Nigeria isn’t simply replicated,” Okoudjou stated. “We’d been eyeing Nigeria for some time, hoping that the cell cash community would kick-off, nevertheless it didn’t. Then again, there was Capricorn which had constructed a robust agent community of 90,000 brokers. Once we realised that, it was evident what the following steps had been.”

Constructing belief and partnerships 

Recognising strategic partnerships is one thing that may be stated of MFS Africa’s earlier acquisitions. Previous to Capricorn, MFS Africa had acquired two different firms. In 2020, the corporate acquired Beyonic, a Ugandan fintech delivering cost administration options to SMEs. That deal additionally began off with a number of conversations on strategic partnerships between Beyonic’s CEO, Luke Kyouhere.

In 2016, MFS Africa acquired Sochitel—an organization that specialised in worldwide airtime transfers into Africa—and the acquisition, in line with MFS Africa, helped create the most important switch cost community which focuses on Africa.

The corporate has additionally made six minority investments in firms throughout the continent together with Maviance, Numida, Julaya, and Inclusivity options. One essential factor that has helped these relationships—investments and acquisitions—is belief. 

“In contemplating acquisitions at MFS Africa, we begin with our vacation spot, our North star. We need to be in all 54 African international locations, and we don’t need borders to matter. You could be in Benin and make transactions with folks in Zambia, or in Nigeria. Over time, we’ve calculated what which means, infrastructure and regulation-wise for us. And once we need to make investments or purchase an organization, we ask ourselves how or if that funding or acquisition will convey us nearer to those objectives. That’s often the place to begin,” Okoudjou stated. “The factor that often makes or breaks these items is the folks. As a result of, ultimately, for those who can’t work with the folks, it doesn’t matter what the spreadsheets say.”

Abudu additionally agrees that belief is a needed ingredient to any large deal. “Apart from being lifelike, belief was one factor we needed to present, and for that to occur, we needed to be open on our finish. We needed to be clear what the acquisition meant for our folks and it was vital to be open about the whole lot. That’s what startups want to know. Hiding issues received’t show you how to in the long term, and with belief, you possibly can even work in the direction of fixing a few of these essential factors collectively.”


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