The African fintech startup scene is set for a boost after Flourish Ventures, a global fintech venture capital firm, announced a new office based in Nairobi to help its investment team better serve entrepreneurs across Africa who are building innovations that help advance financial health and economic resilience for people and small businesses.
With deep fintech industry and country-specific expertise, Flourish is focused on building its investment in Africa and adding to its growing portfolio of a dozen startups located in Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Kenya that includes Apollo Agriculture, Fair Money, Financial Services Innovators (FSI), Flutterwave, Lendable, Pula and Paga.
Flourish recently hired Efayomi Carr as Principal, who will manage the company’s operations in Nairobi. Carr is an experienced entrepreneur who previously served as Head of Strategic Finance for Lori, a tech startup that builds cost-saving market infrastructure for the trucking sector in Africa. He joins the firm’s Africa investment team that includes Managing Partner Arjuna Costa and Venture Partner Ameya Upadhyay.
“We believe Africa is on the cutting edge in the development of innovative and groundbreaking fintech solutions with global relevance, and we are delighted that our Nairobi office will give us greater access across the continent,” said Costa. “Efayomi has a strong network in Africa and will work closely with partners and entrepreneurs to nurture the creative solutions that will enhance the financial wellbeing of households and small businesses across the continent.”
Carr also expressed his optimism in opening the office in Africa due to the strength of the continent’s fintech industry coming off of the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are a deliberative and thesis-driven investor who want to help fintech entrepreneurs achieve real and broad impact across Africa,” said Carr. “I am excited to take part in the growth of our firm’s African presence and am optimistic that African fintech entrepreneurs will continue to deliver real results and make a positive financial impact for consumers and small businesses.”
This news will be a boon to African startups, who according to the Bitter Bridges Think Tank received total venture capital of $1.31 billion in 2020, up from $1.27 billion in 2019, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The economic uncertainty created by the pandemic has inspired us to renew our focus on African entrepreneurs that are tackling key systemic issues in the financial services industry. We hope that our presence on the ground will enhance our ability to share learnings and best practices across our global portfolio, and accelerate the impact we hope to have on the continent,” said Costa.
In 2020, Flourish released the South African edition of its global research survey – The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure – which tracked the experiences of gig workers who use digital platforms such as e-hailing or delivery apps in an effort to learn more about how these essential workers were faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found that 76% of the 600 surveyed gig workers experienced a large decrease in income since March 2020.
In addition to financial support, Flourish provides its portfolio entrepreneurs with experts in finance & operations, human resources, legal, and marketing. The firm also hosts ongoing education and networking events and activities for its portfolio community.
Flourish Ventures backs entrepreneurs whose innovations advance financial health and prosperity for individuals and small businesses. Founded in 2019, Flourish is an early-stage, evergreen global venture fund that deploys patient capital with a long-term perspective. With a deep understanding of industry dynamics, Flourish works with start ups offering a range of financial services including embedded finance platforms, products and plumbing for consumers and small businesses as well as technology offerings such as insurtech, and regtech, among others. Flourish partners with industry thought leaders in research, policy and regulation to better understand the underserved and help foster a fair, more inclusive economy. The firm’s global portfolio includes more than 60 companies such as Steady and MEI Facil for gig workers, Pula and Apollo Agriculture for smallholder farmers, and a host of challenger banks including Chime, which strive to eliminate the industry’s predatory consumer practices. Flourish is part of the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic and impact investing organization committed to addressing the most critical economic, technological, and societal issues.