The rapid outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an alarming crisis with a significant economic, business, and commercial impact that is felt globally. Africa, a continent with social-economic and political peculiarities has undoubtedly suffered a huge blow in the wake of the COVD-19 outbreak.

    It is estimated that COVID-19 will drag African economies into a fall of about 1.4% in GDP, with smaller economies facing a contraction of up to 7.8%. Already, the pandemic has greatly impacted small and medium-scale businesses across African countries, the informal sector, and of course, African societies at large.

    However, the story has not been all negative for Africa in 2020. The rapidly growing African startup ecosystem is perhaps a major ray of hope at a time like this. In October 2020, Paystack, a Nigerian fintech startup, was acquired by global fintech giant Stripe, in the biggest M&A deal in Nigerian tech and one of the biggest in Nigerian corporate history.

    This win for Africa and dozens of other innovative and creative solutions that tackle some of our basic needs is proof that Africa’s future is indeed great.

    We explore 9 Nigerian startups that are greatly impacting African communities in 2020 and beyond and how they are making lives better for Africans.

    Innovation, impact, reach, investment raised, and growth since launch were some of the criteria that informed our choice. The list is in no particular order.

    1. ULesson

    When Ulesson launched in March 2020, Sim Shagaya probably didn’t foresee an epidemy that will completely disrupt education and traditional classroom learning. But he knew his product would bridge the education gap in Africa, so, he launched anyways.

    See Also: 7 Nigerian Startups to Watch in 2020

    A few months down the line, Ulesson is providing unfettered access to quality education for learners in anglophone West African countries, where ordinarily, access to quality education is a nightmare for millions, and with COVID-19, little or no learning is taking place.

    Ulesson is an app-based home education kit for students that leverages a network of tutors to bridge educational gaps for secondary school students in Nigeria.

    The startup already raised $3.1 million to scale its audiovisual education content service across Africa. Ulessons is democratizing access to quality education in Africa one kit at a time, and that’s big deal.

    1. 54Gene

    54gene is a US and Nigeria-based African startup that collects African genetic code for use in health research and drug development. The company utilizes human genetic data from diverse African populations to improve the development, availability, and efficacy of medical products that will prove beneficial to Africans and the wider global population.

    See Also: Top 10 Startup Finalists at the African Business Heroes 2020

    Lack of African-focused genetic research and a consequential ineffectual diagnosis for diseases peculiar to the black race has been a pain point for ages. 54Gene is changing that narrative.

    The company has attracted investment rounds from US VC firms since its launch, the latest being a $15 million round closed in 2020 to scale its genome data bank operations and research collaboration efforts in Africa.

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    54Gene came in handy during the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, providing a wide range of support for the diagnosis of the disease including raising a total of $500,000 to increase the testing capacity in public laboratories by at least 1,000 additional tests per day.

    1. Flutterwave

    Flutterwave is a San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup that provides B2B payments services for companies operating in Africa to pay other companies on the continent and abroad. The company is a graduate of the Y-Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley.


    Just a few months into launch, Flutterwave had processed payments to the value of US$1.5 billion and 14 million transactions. The fintech startup has gone ahead to impact millions of payment service providers, global merchants, licensed money transfer operators, and pan-African banks, helping them to process payments to and from Africa with one API integration.

    In January 2020, Flutterwave raised a $35 million Series B round and announced a partnership with Worldpay FIS for payments in Africa.

    See Also: Apply for 2021 Thrive VII Accelerator Program For AGtech & Food Startup

    With the funding, Flutterwave is able to invest in technology and business development to grow market share in existing operating countries in Africa. The company is also expanding its capabilities to offer more services around its payment products.

    Flutterwave is empowering African businesses to thrive and we can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves in the coming years.

    1. LifeBank

    LifeBank is a health startup that facilitates the transmission of blood from labs across the country to patients and doctors in hospitals they also deliver vital medical supplies such as oxygen, drugs, and medical samples for patients. Through the LifeBank app, people in need of medical care can request these supplies.

    Two years after launch, the startup closed a $200,000 seed round to drive its growth and improve on their offerings, an early indication of greater strides for the company. In 2019, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Lifebank founder was crowned ‘Africa Business Hero’ at the inaugural grand finale of the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, Jack Ma’s flagship entrepreneur programme in Africa and a $250,000 cash prize.

    See Also: 21-Year-Old Egyptian Entrepreneur Wins Anzisha Prize awards 2020

    A few months ago, LifeBank launched its digital blood and oxygen Bank in Ibadan, Nigeria’s third most populous city. Although founded in Lagos State, LifeBank has steadily expanded, currently having branches in Abuja, Portharcourt and, Ibadan and there are many more

    1. Paystack

    Often described as a Stripe-like startup out of Lagos, Paystack provides online payment facilities to merchants and small businesses by way of an API and code, thereby solving payment problems for ‘ambitious businesses.

    Paystack in 2016, became the first startup from Nigeria to enter YCombinator program, based in Silicon Valley, after which they secured $120,000 early-stage investment from Y Combinator.  With the early success of the startup, the zeal of its Ycombinator groomed founders, and transaction that ran into millions of dollars monthly, further down the line, investors could hardly resist the urge to throw some funding behind Paystack.

    In 2016, Paystack secured a $1.3M Seed investment from both international and homegrown investors. The startup announced it raised $8 million in a Series A round of funding in 2018.  And in the biggest startup acquisition to date to come out of Nigeria, Stripe acquired Paystack for over $200 million in October 2020 to expand its API-based payments services into the African market.

    See Also: Kenya’s Villgro scales across Africa to support continent’s e-health ventures

    Paystack currently has around 60,000 customers, including small businesses, larger corporates, fintech, educational institutions, and online betting companies


    Founded in 2015, is an on-demand motorbike hailing and delivery service platform that connects users to vetted professional motorcycle-taxi drivers in Lagos via a mobile app.

    With Lagos being the most populated city in Lagos and a road transport system that is largely inefficient, moving from one place to the other is still a nightmare for most Lagosians. But with an on-demand hailing service like, life is much easier for commuters who can now escape the most notorious traffic congestions that Lagos is known for.

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    In June 2019, the company announced plans to introduce e-bikes after closing a $7 million round led by Kenyan Venture capital firm, Novastar Ventures, and Japanese multinationals, Yamaha.

    In August 2020, it finally unveiled these bikes. Plans are also underway to venture into water and tricycle transportation, as well as the deployment of mobile payments in partnership with Mastercard. The startup also plans to expand to 10 cities in West Africa (starting in Ghana and Ivory Coast) and add new vehicle classes.

    See Also: The Biggest Tech Startups In Nigeria In 2020

    1. Kobo360

    Kobo360 is a Nigerian freight logistics startup that uses technology to connect cargo and truck owners with drivers and customers. The app makes it easy for logistics managers to schedule and monitor trips from the comfort of their homes.

    Founded in Lagos in 2017 by Obi Ozor, a former JPMorgan and investment banker, and Ife Oyedele, the startup claims a fleet of more than 10,000 drivers and trucks operating on its app. Some of their top clients include Honeywell, Olam, Unilever, Dangote, and DHL. Kobo360 also launched its own driver working capital finance program, KoPay, KoboSafe insurance product, and KoboCare: a suite of driver services from HMO packages to family tuition assistance.

    Also Read: 21-Year-Old Egyptian Entrepreneur Wins Anzisha Prize awards 2020

    With the signing of a landmark continentwide free trade deal aimed at bolstering intra-African trade, the operations of Kobo350 is all the more important and timelier.

    In 2019, Kobo360 raised a $20 million Series A round led by Goldman Sachs and $10 million in working capital financing from Nigerian commercial banks. The startup had been accepted into YC’s 2018 class and gained some working capital in the form of $1.2 million in pre-seed funding led by Western Technology Investment.


    With the latest funding, Kobo360 plans to build out its Global Logistics Operating System — GLOS for short — a blockchain-enabled platform that will help the company transition to more supply-chain services.

    1. EDUSKO

    Edusko is a Nigerian ed-tech startup that uses technology to connect African parents with verified and suitable private schools. The company is a seamless marketplace & enrollment platform for schools that also allows parents to make informed school choices, access school fees discounts & education finance from the comfort of their homes.


    Founded in 2016, the company serves over 200,000 monthly users, mostly Sub-Saharan African parents who use the platform to solve their children’s education needs ranging from finding a suitable school to accessing education finance and enrolling kids with ease. The startup has a presence in more than 50 cities in Nigeria and Ghana and has onboarded over 4,000 verified private schools in Nigeria, Ghana, UK, and the US.

    The company organizes annually one of the largest education summits in Africa, The Business of Education Summit, an event that brings together hundreds of education policymakers, school owners, educators, and education stakeholders in Africa to discuss actionable solutions to problems in the African education system.

    In 2020, Jide Ayegbusi, founder and CEO of Edusko was one of the three startups from Nigeria selected for Westerwelle Young Founders Programme 2020. The startup was also top 50 at the annual Jack Ma’s African Business Heroes in 2020.

    1. Piggyvest

    One of the notable startups currently redefining the FinTech industry in Nigeria is Piggyvest. Founded in 2016 as, Piggyvest offers online savings plans and investment opportunities to Nigerians. The startup looks to grow millennial Nigerians and the country’s informal saving groups.

    In 2018, the company raised a $1.1M Seed Fundraise to secure a micro-financing license from the Central Bank of Nigeria and higher talents in marketing, product, and tech departments and to expand their products and user-base.

    Four years into their journey, Piggyvest has over 350,000 users who they help manage their finances in a very simple way. Combined, PiggyVest says users save & invest billions of Naira every month that they would probably be tempted to badly spend.


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