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China’s Transsion and Kenya’s Wapi Capital Collaborate To Fund African Fintech Startups

Chinese mobile-phone and device maker Transsion has decided to team up with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to source and fund early-stage African fintech startups.

Transsion is is the top seller of smartphones in Africa. The company recently confirmed its imminent IPO. It is headquartered in Shenzhen.

Wapi Capital, A venture fund of Kenya, is a daughter company of fintech startup Wapi Pay, which is a Nairobi based company that provides digital payment services between Africa and Asia via mobile money or bank accounts. The investments for the new partnership will be funded by Transsion’s Future Hub, a seed fund for African startups opened by Transsion in 2019.

Starting from September 2019, Transsion will collaborate with Wapi Capital to select early-stage African fintech companies for equity-based investments of up to $100,000, according to Future Hub Senior Investor Laura Li.

According to Wapi Pay co-founder, Eddie Ndichu, Wapi Capital will not participate in contributing funds to Transsion’s Africa investments, but it will help determine the survival and scale of the start-ups, including diligence and deal flow.

New opportunities for African startups.

Transsion Future Hub and Wapi Pay will consider startups from all 54 African countries and interested startups can reach out to either of the companies directly, said Li and Ndichu. According to Li, the Wapi Capital partnership is not Transsion’s sole VC focus in Africa. Although an exact fund size is not disclosed yet, the Transsion Future Hub will also make investments in Africa in adtech, fintech, e-commerce, logistics, and media and entertainment.

Transsion Future Hub’s existing investments include Phoenix, an Africa focused browsing company, content aggregator Scoop, and music streaming service Boomplay. Wapi Capital will also start making its own investments and is hoping to raise $1 million in 2019 and up to $10 million over the next three years, according to Ndichu.

As per company data, Transsion sold 124 million phones globally last year. In Africa, the company holds 54% of the smartphone market. According to International Data Corporation statistics, Transsion is second to Samsung and before Huawei. Some of their smartphone brands are Itel, Tecno and Infinix.

Transsion has research and development centers in Kenya and Nigeria and the sales network in the country includes retail stores in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Egypt. The company also own manufacturing hubs in Ethiopia. Transsion’s decision to move into venture investing marks greater influence from China in African Tech.

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