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Google CEO Sundar Pichai announces plans to invest $50 million in African startups

He made the announcement while speaking at a virtual event on Oct. 7.

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Google CEO Sunday Pichai.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced the company’s plans to invest up to $50 million in high-growth African startups through its Africa Investment Fund.

The CEO made this known while speaking at a virtual event yesterday, Oct. 7, Techcrunch reported. He stated that the newly announced $50-million Africa Investment Fund will enable the company to take equity in high-growth African startups in exchange for various check sizes.

In his statement, Pichai added that the $50-million investment in African startups will be made under its African Investment fund, a $1-billion commitment to support digital transformation and the growth of businesses on the continent over the next five years.

The initiative was set up to provide support ranging from improved connectivity via Google’s subsea cable Equiano to investments in small businesses and startups in Africa.

Startups and venture capital activities in Africa are dominated by Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. Pichai explained that the investment will be open to other African countries, as applications from Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe will not be overlooked.

In addition, the company said it has partnered Kiva, the San-Francisco-based nonprofit lending organization, to disburse $10 million in low-interest loans to small businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa to alleviate hardships occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Google Managing Director of Sub-Saharan Africa Nitin Gajria said the innovative African tech startup scene is inspiring. The continent recently witnessed more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before. 

“I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders. We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs,” Gajria said.

Google’s previous commitments in Africa 

In previous years, Google has met its commitments by supporting startups in Africa through its Google for Startups Accelerator Africa Program and the newly created Black Founders Fund. 

The tech giant noted that more than 80 startups, including Twiga, Paystack and Piggyvest, have benefited from the accelerator program’s equity-free mentorship and resources over the last three years, with more than $100 million generated in venture financing.

Under the behemoth’s Black Founders Fund, a non-dilutive financial award to Black-led companies in three regions, 50 startups have been chosen to participate in the program pegged to commence on Oct. 13.

The startups will receive up to $100,000 each in equity-free funding, as well as Google Cloud credits, Google.org ad grants, and other resources.

The Black Founders Fund manages a $5-million fund in the United States, a $3-million fund in Africa and a $2-million fund in Europe.

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Nigeria’s oldest bank confirms billionaire Femi Otedola’s acquisition of $54.2-million stake

Otedola is known for building corporate juggernauts in the energy, shipping, real estate and finance sectors.

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Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola. ©Billionaires.Africa

After a frenzied 24 hours of back and forth between the media and one of Nigeria’s largest banking groups, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings (FBNH), its management has confirmed the acquisition of a substantial stake in the lender by Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola.

In a notification sent to the Nigerian Exchange, the financial services group disclosed that Otedola has completed the acquisition of a 5.07-percent stake, or 1,818,551,625 units of shares, from the company’s issued share capital, which amounts to a total of 35,895,292,791 shares.

Information contained in the notification revealed that the billionaire made the acquisition through one of his investment vehicles, Calvados Global Services Limited, which was at the forefront of his sale of a 75-percent stake in Forte Oil Plc to Prudent Energy in 2019.

The acquisition of the shares worth N22.27 billion ($54.2 million) makes him one of the largest shareholders in the Nigeria-based lender, ahead of Obafemi Otudeko, the former chairman of FBNH, and Remi Babalola, who is the current chairman of the holding.

FBNH has a free float unit of 35,773,669,647 ordinary shares, which translates to 99.67 percent of the company’s 35,895,292,791 issued shares.

Otedola’s acquisition of the stake has sent the holding’s share price up by more than 60 percent in the past 28 days. Its market capitalization skyrocketed from a valuation of N267.4 billion ($650.6 million) on Sept. 24 to N440 billion ($1.07 billion) as of the time of writing.

Recall that Billionaires.Africa previously reported that the billionaire acquired a significant stake in the leading Nigerian banking group on Oct. 22.

In reaction, in an earlier statement, FBNH disclosed that it had not received any notification from Otedola in line with the acquisition as mentioned in the news report.

The lender noted that it will notify the appropriate agencies and authorities whenever it receives any notice of significant shareholding from shareholders and the company’s registrars.

Otedola’s acquisition opens up fresh debate surrounding who holds the largest stake in the group, as experts believe that aside from Tunde Hassan-Odukale, who holds a 5.36-percent stake in the lender, Nigerian billionaire Mike Adenuga could be one of its largest shareholders.

Following his purchase of the stake, experts expect Otedola to bring fresh ideas that will drive forward the bank’s growth, as they believe the billionaire will take on a management role.

Otedola is known for his ability to innovate in disparate sectors after building and leading corporate juggernauts in the energy, shipping, real estate and finance industries.

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Led by Tunisian Ben Yedder family, Ennakl Automobiles posts $153 million in revenue in 9M 2021

Ennakl is a Tunisian auto retailer selling cars under the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Porsche brands.

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Ennakl Automobiles Chairman Abdellatif Hmam.

Tunisia-based automobile company Ennakl Automobiles has posted TND429.91 million ($152.9 million) in revenue in the first nine months of 2021, as the automobile company continues to benefit from strong growth in demand.

Ennakl Automobiles is a Tunisia-based automobile retailer engaged in the retail sale of cars under the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Porsche brands. The company is majority-owned by the affluent Ben Yedder family and operates under the management of Chairman Abdellatif Hmam.

In addition to its retail activities, the company engages in the importation and distribution of auto parts through its subsidiary, Car Gros, which enables it to offer after-sale services to customers.

Compared with its revenue of TND288 million ($102.4 million) in the first nine-month period of 2020, the company’s consolidated revenue in 2021 rose by 49.3 percent to TND429.9 million ($152.9 million).

The growth in revenue indicates a significant improvement in sales despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operating environment, as the company was able to sell 6,393 vehicles in the first nine months of 2021, up 58.3 percent from the 4,039 units sold last year.

The management noted that the company’s excellent financial performance at the end of Q3 2021 consolidated its leading position among importers in the automotive sector, resulting in Ennaki seizing a 14.24-percent market share during the period under review.

In line with its commitment to create value for stakeholders and improve its market dominance in the automobile industry, Ennakl Automobiles signed a distribution contract with Renault Trucks on Sept. 7 to become its second non-exclusive importer on Tunisian territory.

Ennakl also invested TND2.3 billion ($817.8 million) in its operations, maintaining its budgeted investments, particularly with the extension of the SEAT brand showroom.

As of press time, Oct. 23, shares in the company were trading at TND12 ($4.30). This is 1.5-percent higher than its opening price this month.

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Paystack Co-Founder Ezra Olubi partners with group of investors to inject $1.7 million into Brass Banking startup

The Nigerian digital banking startup seeks to address the underserved banking needs of local entrepreneurs.

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Nigerian fintech tycoon Ezra Olubi.

Leading Nigerian tech founders have partnered with investors to raise $1.7 million in funding for Brass Banking, a Nigerian digital banking startup that seeks to address the underserved banking needs of local entrepreneurs across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ezra Olubi, co-founder of Paystack, which was earlier acquired by Stripe, and Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, co-founder of Flutterwave, joined forces with Hustle Fund, Acuity Ventures, Uncovered Fund and Ventures Platform to raise the capital.

Brass Banking is a fintech startup that delivers easy access to affordable premium commercial-grade banking services for small- and medium-sized businesses. It helps create a current account for companies within 10 minutes, a service hardly obtainable with traditional banks.

The digital bank was founded by Sola Akindolu, former head of product at Kudi, and Emmanuel Okeke, former engineering manager at Paystack, in July 2020,

Brass will invest the funds in accelerating its expansion into South Africa and Kenya, Nairametrics reported.

Moreover, Brass plans to launch several new product categories, including an expansion of its credit-market presence as it seeks to broaden its customer base.

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