Moniepoint is recognized as the second-fastest growing company in Africa

By David Pilling, The Financial Times

After a recent period in which capital flows to emerging markets have slowed and start-up companies have been rattled by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the FT/Statista 2023 annual ranking of Africa’s fastest-growing companies (below) casts its gaze back to encapsulate a time of corporate dynamism at what was the height of the pandemic.The ranking, now in its second year, shows that companies in sectors including fintech, renewable energy, healthcare, commodities and agriculture were managing to grow their businesses while much of the world shut down.

As in the ranking’s inaugural year, Covid appears to have accelerated the move online, with companies providing digital services in finance, payments, trade facilitation and healthcare all making headway.It also seems to have been the time in which Silicon Valley investors, as well as those in Asia and Europe, discovered potential in the African start-up scene, particularly in the tech hubs of Lagos, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Cairo.“A​​ lot of my friends . . . in Silicon Valley were getting FOMO [fear of missing out] about Africa,” says Steve Beck, co-founder of Novastar Ventures, a Nairobi-based venture capital firm. “They were starting to put money to work on the continent, flying in and out and pushing up valuations.”Figures from San Francisco-based tech and digital investment platform Partech, Beck notes, show that African tech start-ups raised $5.2bn in 2021, three times more than the previous year. Valuations, however, have come under pressure in recent months.

Two Nigerian companies top the latest list of the continent’s fastest growing companies. Abuja-based Afex Commodities Exchange, which provides brokerage and trade finance services for commodities such as maize, sorghum, cocoa and rice, is in first position, with a compound annual growth rate over three years of more than 500 per cent.

Moniepoint, a Lagos-based company that offers banking for small businesses, rates second. Venture capital group Novastar was an early funder.

Third is Kenya’s Wasoko, which headed the list in the previous year. Headquartered in Nairobi, the ecommerce company helps small traders access inventory through more efficient supply chains in seven African countries.

As in the inaugural year, start-ups dominate, but do not monopolise, the list. More established companies in metals and mining, telecoms and construction also make the top 100.

The fintech and IT and software sectors are of key importance in the list, but a noticeable feature of the top 100 is the sheer variety of corporate activity. The fastest-growing companies include a Namibian winery, a Kenyan fish farm, a South African company that conducts remote hearing tests and renewable energy companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

As in the inaugural year, the list was compiled with Statista, a research company. It ranked companies by their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue, between 2018 and 2021.

Many fast-growing companies are privately held and do not publicly disclose detailed financial data. That makes a ranking like this an exercise in approximation and the list does not claim to be definitive.

But the screening process (see methodology, below), which also requires senior executives to sign off on the figures submitted by their companies, means, we hope, that the ranking offers a helpful guide to the companies and sectors that are managing to do business in a complex and fast-changing environment. Future years will reveal just how enduring their business models were.

Disclaimer: This article was published by, and belongs to The Financial Times.