Top Startups / June 12, 2021
Asaf Fybish

Asaf is an investor and startup growth advisor. He specializes in organic marketing and he's our Chief of Stash

Top Kenyan Startups To Watch in 2021

When you think of Kenya, you're not likely to think of the country's startup ecosystem. You're much more likely to think about the country's success in long-distance running or the country's beautiful wildlife reserves. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the country, but there are still examples of Kenyan startups that are defying the norm and are succeeding. They are growing fast and are managing to achieve investment In this article, we'll be going over the top Kenyan startups to watch in 2021.

Despite the aforementioned difficulties, the Kenyan startup ecosystem is one of the best in Africa. Startups in the country have managed to raise a collective total of 21 Billion Kenyan Shillings in 2020. This is the equivalent of $222,428,172. The economy in the country is expected to grow by 5% in 2021 and 5.9% in 2022. Down below, you can find the list of the best startups in Kenya.

1. M-KOPA

Year Founded: 2011

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 501-1000

Founder(s): Chad Larson, Jesse Moore, Nick Hughes

M-Kopa is one of the most exciting examples of a Kenya startup because the company focuses on getting low-income people to access energy solutions that they can reasonably afford. They provide "pay as you go" solutions to customers that are currently off of the energy grid.

Many investors have banded together, believing in the mission and the vision of the company. So far, M-KOPA has received startup funding from a large group of 23 investors, who have collectively invested a total of $188.6 Million. Bringing energy to the disadvantaged is a worthy cause and the business is doing that successfully.

2. Twiga Foods

Year Founded: 2013

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 501-1000

Founder(s): Grant Brooke, Peter Njonjo

Twiga Foods is an e-commerce and agriculture startup that was founded in 2013 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company provides a platform that can connect farmers and other produce manufacturers with retailers in urban locations. To make everything easier, they use a mobile, cashless system to conduct business.

Twiga Foods provides a great service connecting businesses that need each other and investors have clearly agreed with this assessment. To date, the company has managed to amass a total of $107.1 Million in startup funding. This was achieved from a total of 19 investors. Interestingly, one of the investors behind the Kenya startup is Goldman Sachs.

3. Copia Global

Year Founded: 2012

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 251-500

Founder(s): Jonathan Lewis, Tracey Turner

Copia Global is an e-commerce startup that was founded in 2012 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company provides a platform for customers to order through an online catalog. Customers are then able to pick up their items from a range of different agent companies throughout the area.

The ease of the solution and the extent of the problem it solves has led to the company attracting a notable amount of investment. So far, the company has managed to raise a total of $53 Million from a group of ten investors across six rounds of startup funding. This makes Copia Global an example of one of the most exciting startups in Kenya.

4. Sendy

Year Founded: 2014

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 101-250

Founder(s): Don Okoth, Evanson Biwott, Malaika Judd, Meshack Alloys

Sendy is a B2B delivery startup that was founded in 2014 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company's solution focuses on addressing problems with last-mile logistics in Africa. Users are able to utilize its service online or using their app. They make delivery either and even offer finance for both suppliers and retailers.

Sendy has received a significant amount of startup funding, especially considering the size of the local market. So far, the company has managed to raise a total of $26.5 Million from a group of 13 investors, continuing the trend with Kenya startups receiving international funding.

5. Africa's Talking

Year Founded: 2010

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 101-250

Founder(s): Eston Kimani, Samuel Gikandi

Africa's Talking is a mobile and telecommunications startup that was founded in 2010 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company combines and provides solutions across Africa as a whole for two-way Short-Message-Service (SMS), audio calls as well as solutions for USSD.

The company has managed to achieve a great amount of startup funding since being founded by two MIT graduates. To this end, the company has managed to raise $8.6 Million in startup funding from a group of five investors, with the company also investing in cloud technology startup Angani in 2015.

6. AZA Finance

Year Founded: 2013

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 101-250

Founder(s): Amy Ludlum, Charlene Chen, Elizabeth Rossiello

AZA Finance is a fintech startup that was founded in 2013 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company utilizes blockchain technology to allow its customers to conduct the digital foreign exchange of currencies and make payments. The benefit with AZA is that the settlement costs are lower and transactions occur much more quickly than they would have using traditional systems.

Since being founded in 2013, the company has gone on to be one of the most heavily invested among Kenya startups. So far, the company has attracted a total of $50 Million in startup funding from a group of twelve investors. The company has also been active in the acquisitions market, having taken over two competing Fintech companies in 2018 and 2021 respectively.

7. Little

Year Founded: 2016

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 51-100

Founder(s): Kamal Budhabhatti

Little is a transportation technology startup that was founded in 2016 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company is very similar to Uber, in the sense that they allow independent drivers to make money, whilst providing more convenience for travelers. Customers can use the app to hail a ride from one of these independent drivers, rather than having to mess around trying to find a taxi.

Despite the fact that the company has a very similar business offering to Uber, the company has managed to convince investors that it has the potential to stand out. This is due to the fact that the company managed to raise $10 Million in startup funding during 2018.

8. PayGo Energy

Year Founded: 2014

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Fausto Marcigot, Mike Hahn, Nick Quintong

PayGo Energy is a clean energy startup that was founded in 2014 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company aims to tackle the problem of cooking over open fires, with unclean materials which cause a huge environmental impact. The company provides solutions allowing customers to buy gas from one of their cylinders when they need it. That means, as long as they can pay, they will never run out of gas to cook with. Customers can also track and manage their consumption.

The company's innovative solution to a big problem has attracted the notice of many investors. So far, the company has received funding from a group of 11 investors. This investment has earned the company a total of $8.5 Million. These investors include the US Agency for International Development and Energy Access Ventures.

9. Lendable

Year Founded: 2014

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Arjun Batra, Daniel Goldfarb, Dylan Fried

Lendable is one of the most exciting fintech startups to come out of Kenya. The company specializes in providing debt financing to other fintech startups in less-developed, but still high-potential markets. They build and offer a range of robust and accessible financial products to companies, whilst giving investors a way to connect with startups that they may want to invest in.

Lendable has managed to attract a notable amount of outside investment since being founded in 2014. So far, the company has raised $12 Million from a group of seven investors. Naturally, the company has also been active in the investments market, making a total of eight investments into fintech companies.

10. Kibanda Topup

Year Founded: 2021

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Emilie Blauwhoff, Njavwa Mutambo

Kibanda is a B2B delivery startup that was founded this year and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company's offering centers around getting restaurants and other food outlets quick access to their orders. For example, they can rapidly order ingredients or other necessary items through an SMS, which will then be delivered the next day.

Despite only being founded this year, the Kenyan startup has managed to raise a total of $460,000 in startup funding from a group of five investors. The company has received backing from JAM Fund, the investment fund of Tinder founder Justin Mateen.

11. MarketForce360

Year Founded: 2017

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Tesh Mbaabu

MarketForce360 is a Kenyan IT startup that was founded in 2017 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company creates digital solutions for orders, payments and delivery. This means that customers and suppliers can be connected much easier, with the orders also being handled with more efficiency.

MarketForce360 has managed to convince a number of investors to believe in the company's business model. To date, the company has managed to attract startup funding worth $500,000 from a group of six investors.

12. Eneza Education

Year Founded: 2011

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Chris Asego, Kago Kagichiri, Toni Maraviglia

Eneza Education is an educational technology startup that was founded in 2011 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company provides digital educational systems that allow for the completion of assignments, tutor feedback, and more. The company currently conducts its operations in Kenya, Ghana, and Ivory Coast and is likely to expand in the future.

Investors have clearly taken to the company's mission to provide better education in Africa. This has led to the company being able to amass $631,600 in startup funding from a group of 11 investors. Interestingly, one of the investors behind the company is The Mastercard Foundation.

13. Amitruck

Year Founded: 2018

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Mark Mwangi

Amitruck is a transportation technology startup that was founded in 2018 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company provides a solution for transportation and logistics companies using their platform to connect cargo haulers with the owners of cargo that needs hauling.

So far, the company has managed to attract the eyes of investors with the technology of its platform and its business model. So far, the company has managed to attract investment from a group of three investors in the three years that they have been operating.

14. Kune

Year Founded: 2020

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Robin Reecht

Kune is a food and beverage startup that was founded last year and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company is a manufacturer of high-quality ready meals that can be taken away and delivered. The company is currently working on creating a facility that can create 5,000 meals per day- which will further stimulate the growth of the Kenyan startup.

The company's food has clearly been turning heads in Kenya, considering the rapid growth of the company has convinced investors to part ways with $1.1 Million in startup funding the company's pre-seed round.

15. AJUA

Year Founded: 2012

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Kenfield Griffith, Louis Majanja

AJUA is a cloud computing startup that was founded just under a decade ago and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. They have created a mobile-based survey system that allows businesses to collect intelligence on customers, reduce customer losses and improve customer service during their operations.

The company has managed to convince investors about the potential of its platform. This is evidenced by the fact that a group of 11 investors has put in a collective $3.5 Million to further the growth of the company. The company has also had one move in the acquisitions market, taking over WayaWaya a few months ago.

16. Taimba

Year Founded: 2016

HQ: Westlands, Nairobi Area, Kenya

Size: 11-50

Founder(s): Dominique Kavuisya, Joan Kavuisya

Taimba is an agricultural e-commerce startup that is currently based in the Westlands, in the Nairobi Area. The company provides a solution that works on mobile that helps farmers to sell their produce to traders in urban communities. The aim of this is to reduce the amount of food being wasted and to create a more stable market in terms of pricing.

Taimba has managed to stand out in a country that has a great number of agriculture startups. The company has managed to raise a total of $823,100 in startup funding from a group of five investors.

17. TalkLift

Year Founded: 2017

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Felix Cheruiyot, Moses Korir

TalkLift is an artificial intelligence startup that was founded in 2017 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company produces conversational AI to help businesses reduce their call center inquiries, which in turn will reduce the waiting time for other customers, leading to improved customer experience.

The company's business model and software solution has been validated by the fact that they have managed to gain $100,000 in startup funding from a pair of investors.

18. Bismart Insurance

Year Founded: 2017

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Eunice Maina

Bismart Insurance, true to the name is an insurance startup that was founded in 2017 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya-like most startups in the country. The company utilizes an advanced technological solution to provide customers with the best insurance companies and products on the market. They also provide a comparison platform to help inform the decision-making process.

Bismart Insurance has managed to find success in attracting outside startup funding with the company receiving investment from GreenTec Capital Partners in 2018.

19. Ecobodaa

Year Founded: 2020

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Kimosop Chepkoit, Steve Juma

Ecobodaa is an automotive startup that was founded last year and is currently located in Nairobi, Kenya. The company provides eco-friendly electric motorbike ride-hailing services. There is also a benefit to the riders as they get the opportunity to lease their bike from the company, where they will eventually then completely own the vehicle.

The company has managed to attract investment from a sole investor so far, however, the company is only around a year old at this point. The company that made the investment was Persistent Energy Partners.

20. Flare

Year Founded: 2016

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Caitlin Dolkart, Maria Rabinovich

Flare is a healthcare logistics startup that was founded in 2016 and is currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The company seeks to make it easier to provide healthcare to those that would traditionally not be easily able to receive it. This is achieved through an all-in-one emergency system, where vehicles can be plotted on digital maps and their cloud system improves response times.

The company has a very important mission in a country where medical care is still developing. This has led to Flare receiving a total of $325,000 of startup funding from a pair of investors in the form of grants.

21. PesaKit

Year Founded: 2018

HQ: Nairobi, Kenya

Size: 1-10

Founder(s): Andrew Mutua

PesaKit is an AI and fintech startup that was founded in 2018 and is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company offers money agents in Africa an AI-powered smartphone app that allows them to access digital financial structures making liquidity and conversion a much better prospect.

PesaKit has managed to find an investor that believed in their business offering and was willing to put money into it. Catalyst Fund decided to put $80,000 of startup funding into PesaKit to help the business with growth and development.

Top Kenyan Startups To Watch...
Asaf Fybish

Asaf is an investor and startup growth advisor. He specializes in organic marketing and he's our Chief of Stash

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