During a period marked by a slowdown in capital flows to emerging markets and the upheaval faced by start-up companies due to the Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, the FT/Statista 2023 annual ranking of Africa’s fastest-growing companies mirrors a time of corporate dynamism during the peak of the pandemic.
The second-year ranking highlights that businesses in sectors like fintech, renewable energy, healthcare, commodities, and agriculture managed to thrive despite global shutdowns.
Covid-19 seemingly accelerated the shift towards digital platforms, with companies offering online financial, payment, trade facilitation, and healthcare services experiencing significant growth.
This period also saw a surge in interest from Silicon Valley, Asian, and European investors in the African start-up ecosystem, particularly in tech hubs such as Lagos, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Cairo.
Steve Beck, co-founder of Nairobi-based venture capital firm Novastar Ventures, noted the increasing FOMO (fear of missing out) among his Silicon Valley connections regarding Africa, leading to higher investments and valuations.
Figures from Partech, a San Francisco-based tech investment platform, revealed a notable increase in funding for African tech start-ups, reaching $5.2 billion in 2021, three times higher than the previous year. However, valuations have faced pressure recently.
The top spots in the latest ranking were claimed by two Nigerian companies. Afex Commodities Exchange in Abuja, specializing in brokerage and trade finance for commodities like maize, sorghum, cocoa, and rice, secured the top position with a compound annual growth rate of over 500%.
Lagos-based Moniepoint, offering banking services for small businesses, clinched the second spot, with Novastar Ventures being an early investor.
Kenya’s Wasoko, an e-commerce firm aiding small traders in accessing inventory through efficient supply chains across seven African countries, took third place, repeating its success from the previous year.
While start-ups continue to dominate the list, it’s worth noting the presence of more established companies in sectors like metals and mining, telecoms, and construction within the top 100.
While fintech, IT, and software sectors held crucial positions, the list’s diversity stood out, encompassing a Namibian winery, a Kenyan fish farm, a South African company specializing in remote hearing tests, and renewable energy firms in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
The ranking methodology, created in partnership with Statista, assessed companies based on their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue from 2018 to 2021. As many of these companies are privately held, this ranking is an approximation and not definitive.
However, the stringent screening process requiring executive authentication of the submitted financial data aims to offer a valuable guide to companies and sectors navigating a complex and rapidly evolving business environment. The future will shed light on the longevity of their business models.
Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies 2023 features 100 companies ranked by the highest compound annual growth (CAGR) in revenues from 2018 to 2021, based on the following criteria:
- Revenue of at least US $100,000 generated in 2018 and at least US $1.5 million generated in 2021.
- The company is independent (not a subsidiary or branch office).
- The company’s operational headquarters are situated in an African country.
- The revenue growth between 2018 and 2021 was primarily organic.