Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d’Ivoire, is a West African country with a population of 26 million people and a GDP of $61 billion. It is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, with an average annual growth rate of 7% since 2012. Ivory Coast has also emerged as a big attraction for startup investments, especially in the digital sector.
According to Digest Africa, the 10 most funded startups in Ivory Coast have raised a combined $19 million across 23 deals. The largest amount was raised by Afrimarket, an e-commerce platform that enables expatriates to send money and goods back home. Afrimarket secured $11.5 million in a Series B round led by Orange Digital Ventures in 2016.
The most funded sectors by number of companies are financial services with three in the top ten: CinetPay, a mobile money aggregator that raised $1.3 million from Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) and MFS Africa; Djamo, a neobank that raised $1 million from Y Combinator and other investors; and Moja Ride, a mobility platform that raised $600k from Toyota Tsusho Corporation.
Other notable startups in Ivory Coast include
- Afrikrea, an online marketplace for African fashion and crafts that raised $2 million from Saviu Ventures and others;
- Kamtar, a logistics platform that raised $700k from I&P;
- Coliba, a waste management startup that raised $500k from Miarakap;
- StarNews Mobile, a video-on-demand service that raised $400k from Expert Dojo;
- Susu Health Group (SHG), a healthtech startup that raised $1 million from Future Africa and others; and
- LifeBank Africa (LBA), another health tech startup that raised an undisclosed amount from Orange Corners.
These startups are solving some of the most pressing challenges faced by Ivorians such as access to healthcare, education, transportation, energy, and financial inclusion. They are also leveraging the high internet penetration rate of 50% and the widespread adoption of mobile money services such as Orange Money and MTN Mobile Money.
Factors Influencing the Growth Of Startups
The startup ecosystem of Ivory Coast is still in its nascent stage but has shown great potential for growth and innovation. Some of the factors that have contributed to its development include:
- The political stability and economic recovery after the end of the civil war in 2011
- The government support for entrepreneurship through policies such as tax exemptions for ICT companies
- The presence of mobile operators such as Orange and MTN that provide infrastructure and funding for startups
- The emergence of hubs, accelerators and incubators such as Seedstars Abidjan, Bond’Innov Côte d’Ivoire, Akendewa, BabyLab, and La Fabrique.
- The increasing interest from local and international investors such as I&P, MFS Africa, Saviu Ventures, Future Africa, and Expert Dojo.
Current Challenges in Tech Ecosystem
Currently, the tech ecosystem in Cote D’Ivoire faces some small challenges including:
- The language barrier as French is not widely spoken by investors and customers outside Francophone Africa
- The lack of skilled talent especially in technical fields such as software development
- The regulatory uncertainty and bureaucracy especially for cross-border operations
- The limited access to capital especially at later stages
Despite these challenges, Ivory Coast remains one of the most promising markets for tech startups in Africa. With its large population size, strong economic performance, high internet penetration rate, vibrant mobile money sector, supportive government policies, active mobile operators, growing hubs network, diverse startup portfolio, and increasing investor attention, Ivory Coast has all the ingredients to become a leading tech hub on the continent.
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