Business

Dennis Wafula

Crypto in Africa: Leading crypto while celebrities fund startup

Since the beginning of 2019, experts have made good predictions for the Africa crypto market. Despite having a slow start, the continent is quickly catching up to the rest of the world. All these changes are causing many to believe Africa’s future lies in crypto adoption.

Serena William backs African startup Andela

Serena Williams, the 23-time tennis Grand Slam champion revealed last week details of her secret investment in the Africa focused coding company, Andela.

In the announcement, Williams stated that her company would be funding Andela, a Nigeria based startup that is also active in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Williams formally unveiled this will happen through her investment company Serena Ventures. William stated that she “invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity.” It seems Andela fits this description.

William stated in a post:

“In 2014, (yes I know I can keep a secret) I launched Serena Ventures with the mission of giving opportunities to founders across an array of industries. Serena Ventures invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity.”

The company secured a US$100-million Series D round in January 2019, making it one of the best-funded African tech start-ups. It secured funding to more than US$180-million. Serena Ventures was among the participants.

Andela admits budding African developers into a highly selective program that trains them to become globally competitive. After the training, the developers are outsourced to global companies in need of development talent. So far, the company has hired 1000 developers out of over 10,000 applicants.

It’s a model that’s proven enough to win significant investor backing with Andela among the best-funded start-ups in Africa. Amongst its investors are other celebrities, notably Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former US Vice President Al Gore, who is chairperson of Generation Investment Management, which led January’s Series D round.

After the recent funding round, Andela hopes to accelerate the development of its technology platform that will be used to identify, develop and match talent at scale. This is aimed at increasing its presence and impact across Africa

Serena Williams was founded in 2014 and has been a closely guarded secret since then. The investment fund has already contributed to 30 companies, including Coinbase.

Africa’s potential to lead the global crypto race

Many have noted what Africa as a continent has to offer to the global cryptocurrency market. The recent remarks came from the head of Africa deVere Acuma, Gavin Smith. He said:

“I believe that the cryptocurrency sector is one in which the African continent should be playing a leading role. There is scope for the continent to help alleviate poverty, grow economies and create jobs.”

His remarks come at a time when the crypto market seems to be bouncing back, and with talks of regulation spearing across the globe. He added:

 “There is increasing consensus that cryptocurrencies are inevitably the future of money. It merely makes sense to have digital, global currency in an increasingly digitalized and globalized world. This is why governmental agencies and regulators are now carefully looking into space and why a growing number of retail and institutional investors, including major financial institutions, around the world are piling into the crypto market.”

In addition, he explained that Africa still has a high percentage of unbanked population, which highly favors crypto adoption. Through cryptocurrency, people across the continent will be able to access financial services including remittances especially for people leaving in remote areas.

He believes the government in Africa could use these technologies to gain spending power through the taxation of cryptocurrencies and by encouraging entrepreneurs and fintech firms to invest in their countries by setting job and wealth-creating firms.

Smith acknowledged the significant economic changes in countries that have embraced cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. He gave the examples of the crypto industry in Malta, Japan, and Switzerland, where each country’s economy has improved with increased crypto adoption.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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