On Africa and ‘Emerging Venture Markets’

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Against the backdrop of this record-breaking year, I’ll take a moment to reflect on MAGNiTT's extensive journey, collecting data on VC activity across Emerging Venture Markets. Starting back in 2016 covering the Middle East and North Africa, in 2020 we grew to record venture activity in Turkey and Pakistan. This evolution brought forward crucial insights into how neighboring ecosystems have developed and actionable opportunities for both MAGNiTT and the many key players it supports and covers. In 2021, as we continue to explore and redefine the idea of Emerging Venture Markets, we set our focus on Africa as yet another critical geography. 

The Venture Space in Africa, even though built with its own intricacies and functions within its unique parameters, shares ample compatibilities with ecosystems across the Middle East, Pakistan, and Turkey (MEAPT). We stress the term comparable here as it is a key attribute to and a core advantage of our data collection. Startups in Africa are facing many of the challenges we already observe in our Emerging Venture Markets including the importance of scale, the sourcing of talent, the solution to identifiable problems, and the challenge of bureaucracy. With this in mind, expansion to African data carries immense potential in trend spotting across geographies and opens up the potential for untapped investment.


Despite the challenges across MEAPT, VC activity has been on steady and gradual growth, and startups seem to have figured out the importance of market expansion into other Emerging Markets in a successful scale-up operation. This cross-pollination between markets has also taken effect on the investors’ side, where we see UAE-based VCs like Global Ventures investing in Egypt, Saudi-Based VCs like public-funded Sanabil funding startups in Jordan, and most interestingly global and US-based VCs like SOSV and First Round Capital, and big entities like Softbank raising major rounds including Trendyol in Turkey, Kitopi in the UAE, Airlift in Pakistan, and most recently Saudi Arabia’s latest Megadeal with Unifonic. As a result of this growth, we have now tracked over 6K transactions across geographies, amongst an aggregate directory of 20K+ startups and 5K+ investors, enablers, and VCs.  

For us at MAGNiTT, the ultimate opportunity for our benefactors, readers, and the VC ecosystem lies in the initial challenge of the African Venture space and every early Emerging Venture Market. The rarity and/or inaccessibility of credible data on VC funding and Startup growth provides abundant avenues of exploration in search of promising investment trends, benchmarking opportunities that can project or analyze growth, and most importantly enabling lead generation and due diligence efforts through consolidated directories.  As we continue to grow both in the depth of our data and offering and in the breadth of our geographies, we come closer to our real vision of 'Emerging Venture Markets'- a promising venture space that’s vivacious, disruptive, expansive, and highly sought after as the record shows over 2021. 

To that effect, the startup ecosystem in Africa is equally compelling for VC investment and startup growth. Similar to other Emerging Venture Markets, we’re observing government & public-backed initiatives towards digitalization in Africa, where the infrastructures seem ripe and ready for Tech disruption, as well as a growing interest in Tech, Internet, and Digital adoption across geographies proving favorable for startup innovation. At the same time, anticipation of the African venture space is growing, where the private sector including corporates looking to access new markets, consultants driving strategy for key stakeholders, and big Tech companies with a regional perspective are showing more interest in African investment. 

In hopes of capturing the accelerated growth of and the unprecedented synergy between Emerging Venture Markets as we’ve done across MEAPT, we have officially extended our data adding the SSA market to aggregate data on 5,350+ startups in Africa, 2,370+ investments over the last 5 years, as well as 450+ Investors specifically in the SSA space. Be sure to sign up for our newly launched Africa newsletter, sharing the latest trends and investments across the African continent, dispatched monthly.

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