Why African startups need to launch in multiple countries – Tizeti CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of Tizeti, Kendall Ananyi has said that African startups will need to explore launching in multiple countries to hedge against currency risks.

Ananyi stated this while sharing his experience investing in over 40 startups in the last eight years via a blog post.

According to him, skyrocketing exchange rate has been a major issue for African startups, especially, when they have to provide their investor updates in USD.

He noted that by diversifying their geographic presence, startups could mitigate the impact of currency volatility from any single market, adding that this would also help them to stabilize their financial results when consolidated.

Justifying the need for launching in multiple countries for African startups, he said:

“Hedging currency risk is difficult and startups should explore additional geographies and launch in multiple countries once they are in the growth stage so the effect of one currency doesn’t weigh down their results when consolidated.

“For example, the Nigerian Naira might be down in a year when the Ghanaian Cedi is having a great year, or you might get stability from expanding to Francophone Africa and earning FCFA/XOF. The MENA region is also an area to consider to mitigate currency risks as a startup further.”

Startup challenges

In his post, Ananyi also identified several hurdles startups must overcome, such as co-founder conflicts and crisis management. He urged founders and entrepreneurs to move on from crises by taking stock, re-strategizing, and continuing to build, emphasizing that mature investors base their decisions on growth and market potential rather than press coverage.

While noting that African startups are now facing increased scrutiny due to a lack of governance structure, Ananyi advised startups that are receiving significant investment to adhere to proper governance policies and hold regular board meetings with experienced board members where feasible.

Sharing his experience in this regard, he said:

“Out of 40+ investments, I only had one startup not launch or show any visible traction. I got no updates and had to chase down the founder to get the documents months after the investment.

“One out of 40 is 2.5%. It is a small number but it does exist and has resulted in increased scrutiny of African startups. Naming and shaming haven’t really worked and it’s an open conversation, proper governance should help keep it at the historic low %.”

Startup exits

While Ananyi is optimistic about exits in Africa, he noted they may be rare because the majority of current startups were founded after the Paystack exit to Stripe and are less than three years old, or have higher valuations than pre-2021.

With this, he said investors are expected to stay longer to see significant returns.

He explained that the current young startups need more time to mature and prove their business models before they can attract lucrative exit opportunities.

According to him, the inflated valuations seen during the investment frenzy of 2021 and 2022 mean that investors may need to be more patient, holding on to their stakes longer to achieve substantial returns.

What you should know

Tizeti, founded by Ananyi, is one of the leading Internet Service Providers in Nigeria with operations in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The company last year secured an undisclosed amount in debt financing from Chapel Hill Denham’s Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund (NIDF) to expand its business across West Africa.

As a startup founder, Ananyi has continued to invest in other startups.

His diverse portfolio spans sectors such as energy, education, financial services, healthcare, food delivery, internet, and space, including companies like BuyPower, Helium Health, Kuda, Brass, Edukoya, Curacel, Topship.

Despite a broad portfolio, Ananyi has successfully exited four companies: Paystack, Flutterwave, Reliance Health, and Oxio.


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