The struggle is real — anxiety heightens as “Africa’s startup graveyard” grows in size — Disrupt Africa

Venture capital funding has declined significantly across the world in 2023, and though there were initial hopes that the nascency of the African tech ecosystem might mean it avoided too much damage, the growing size of the continent’s “startup graveyard” suggests that is not the case.

Venture capital funding globally almost halved in the first six months of 2023, according to PitchBook data, which highlighted a lack of investor enthusiasm as well as falling demand amid rising interest rates. In Q3, according to Crunchbase, it was down 15 per cent on the same quarter the previous year.

In Africa, Disrupt Africa figures paint a concerning picture. We reported recently that African tech startups raised just shy of US$500 million in Q3 , taking the total for the first nine months of the year to just under US$1.5 billion, down 48 per cent on the corresponding period in 2022. Unless there’s a dramatic upturn, it seems funding in 2023 will be down by around half on last year. A reset indeed.

The lack of liquidity in the market, and the sudden difficulties startups used to regularly raising capital are now facing in convincing investors, has hit a certain type of African startup hard. Well-funded ventures pursuing fast-paced “growth at all costs” strategies are either having to pivot hard, or close up shop. Africa’s “startup graveyard”, until this year relatively empty of “star names”, is filling up fast.

In August, Kenyan end-to-end fulfillment startup shut down operations and announced a fire sale of assets (it didn’t call it that), with reports saying reduced order volumes and fuel price hikes meant it was making deliveries at a loss, and had a monthly burn rate of US$1 million. Sendy raised US$20 million in capital as recently as January 2020, but in the current climate further funding was not to be found.

Next to bite the dust was , a genomics research company that had raised US$45 million across three funding rounds. It was revealed last month that it had started winding down its operations. 54gene, which has had three CEOs in the last 12 months, said it “could not continue to operate financially”. See the trend?

Next up, and most concerningly, was Ghanaian fintech Dash. Founded in 2019, the payments company had raised a whopping US$86 million, but folded in October amid allegations of financial impropriety and false reporting. And this week brought the news that South African mobility startup WhereIsMyTransport, bankrolled to tune of over US$27 million by investors such as Naspers in recent years, was closing down after failing to secure more investment. On a lesser scale, but no less sadly, the death knell has also recently rung for the likes of Kune, Lazerpay, and .

Plenty of previously high-growth ventures plod on, but they are all having to change the way they operate. Kenyan e-commerce company Copia, which raised US$50 million Series C funding last year , announced it was pulling out of Uganda, “consistent with many of the best companies in Africa and across the world which are responding to the market environment and prioritising profit.” Another Kenyan retail-tech startup, MarketForce, is also facing challenges. The company raised US$40 million in funding in February of last year , back in the boom times, but stunningly, certain VCs that had committed funds backed out. In all, US$8 million of that capital was never wired. MarketForce has struggled to raise more capital, announced a bunch of layoffs, and recently turned to crowdfunding to get some cash in the bank.

Worrying times, then, as the flood of funding slows in pace and leading African tech ventures feel the shocks. As the boom of 2020, 2021 and 2022 turns into the pain of 2023, the whole way many entrepreneurs have been running their business has had to change. Instead of “growth at all costs”, it is now about, as Copia put it, “prioritising profit”.

Yet that isn’t actually a bad thing. In fact, as investors pointed out on this episode of Disrupt Podcast , many people have actually — quietly — been running their businesses like that for a while. The decline in funding may well be putting a little bit of necessary prudency into Africa’s startup ecosystem. Valuations had certainly gotten unsustainably high, so a fall is in many ways welcome. And, if there are any positives to be gained from the spectacular collapse of Dash, it may be that, finally, Africa’s startup founders and their boards of directors begin paying a bit more attention to good governance.

Some positives to be taken, then, but undeniably these are some of the toughest times this young, growing ecosystem has ever faced.

New funds, however, herald good news. And a few of those have been announced recently, raised by the likes of Enza Capital , Secha Capital , P1 Ventures , Knife Capital Catalyst Fund . That’s all money that is going to need disbursing over the next few years. And investor sentiment is like the weather — it changes. Economic peaks and troughs are a tale as old as time. Right now, investors are “unenthusiastic”, but quite soon they will certainly regain their enthusiasm. The question startups across the world are asking themselves is “when?”.

It is easy to be over-optimistic, but there are some signs of winter becoming spring. In the US, last month was the first time in 18 months that venture-backed tech companies braved the public markets. The Instacart and Klaviyo IPOs saw both companies down-valued, but the fact they listed at all was a good step. It seems, then, likely that 2024 will be a better one for tech listings, and though that has no direct impact on African investment, the fact US investors are warming up is a positive harbinger for increased capital flows onto the continent in the coming months.

For now, though, we are still very much feeling the chill of winter, and Africa’s “startup graveyard” is getting fuller. Times are tough, but all we can do is manage as best we can, get our houses in order from a profitability and governance perspective, and trust that there are better times to come.

Originally published at on October 31, 2023.


Elon Musk Says Remote Workers Have 'Marie Antoinette Vibes' | Entrepreneur
Elon Musk hates the concept of remote working - and he hasn't been shy about letting everyone know.
During Tesla's Q3 2023 Earnings Call on Wednesday, Musk sounded off on remote workers, saying they are "detached from reality" and "take advantage" of workers who are in office and Tesla factories.
"This is like some real Marie Antoinette vibes from people who say why is there no work from home. Like what about all the people that have to come to the factory and fill the cars or all people that have to go to the restaurant and make your food and deliver your food," Musk said during the call. "Why did I sleep in the factory so many times? Because it mattered."
Related: Elon Musk Says Remote Work Is 'Morally Wrong,' Calls It 'Messed Up'
Musk's comments seemed unprovoked - and pivoted from the call's discussion about the price elasticity of Tesla cars, particularly the Model Y.
Tesla is coming off a relatively rough quarter as the electric car company was down 37% from the same period last year, its lowest quarterly profit in two years.
Tesla leadership attributed Q3 expectation misses to vehicle price cuts in an attempt to increase demand and foster competition but noted a "lag" in cost reductions that affected overall margins.
This was not the first time Musk voiced his disdain at working from home.
Related: Elon Musk Brutally Tells Tesla Executives They Must Return to Offices 'Or Depart Tesla'
Last year, Musk sent an email to Tesla employees telling them to work a minimum of 40 hours a week in the office or "depart Tesla."
In May, he called remote work "morally wrong" during an interview with and got heated, claiming it's "not a productivity thing," cursing at those who believe it's an effective way to work.
"People should get off the goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bulls - - ," Musk said at the time.
Tesla was down over 8.3% in a 24-hour period following its Q3 earnings report.


Originally published at on October 19, 2023.

Elon Musk’s X starts showing clickbait ads that cannot be blocked

Elon Musk-owned social media giant X (formerly Twitter) is testing a new clickbaity ad format that cannot be blocked or reported.

While normal ads on X carry an “ad” label, the new unspecified ads on the platform appear in the user’s “For You” feed, currently on the company’s mobile app, and redirect them to a third-party site when they try to click on them, reminiscent of the experience offered by low-quality clickbait sites, Mashable reported.

Ad woes for Twitter/X:

X has been struggling with ad revenue since Musk took over the company last year, with half of its biggest advertisers leaving the platform shortly after. Moreover, a new report from Media Matters shows that the advertisers who have since returned are spending up to 90 per cent less than before.

A Reuters report also found that the X’s ad revenue has fallen by at least 55% year-on-year since the billionaire took over the social media giant in October last year.

Musk has previously acknowledged that the social media platform has faced declining ad revenue due to pressure from activists. Last month, Musk blamed the Anti-Defamation League for a 60 per cent drop in the company’s ad revenue.

Also Read| Elon Musk plans to have three subscription tiers for X. Here’s what you should know

Speaking at Vox Media’s Code conference last week, X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the platform had seen the return of around 1,500 brands in the past 12 weeks, while 90% of the company’s top advertisers had also returned.

X starts testing new subscription model:

A recent Bloomberg report had revealed that X is testing a new subscription feature that can limit the number of ads shown to users. CEO Linda Yaccarino had also confirmed in a meeting with X’s debtors that the company would be rolling out 3 tiers of subscriptions for users, allowing it to generate more revenue from users who were unlikely to pay the full price of the premium subscription.

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Originally published at on October 8, 2023.

5 Essential Leadership Skills Employers Are Looking For

Strong leadership skills are hugely beneficial in the workplace, particularly in today’s fast-paced and competitive working environment. From executives to senior management, these skills can be applied across a range of positions and responsibilities.

They can be used to increase productivity, boost morale, inspire innovation, and help solve problems. What’s more, with companies striving to increase visibility and adapt to ever-changing markets and consumer demands, strong leaders could give them a competitive edge.

As a result, employers will always be on the lookout for candidates that possess these important skills.

With that in mind, you need to know how to effectively showcase these skills on your resume. To help you do that and to increase your chances of securing an interview, we’ve created this list of the five essential leadership skills top employers are looking for.

Here’s why you need to highlight these on your application and how to do just that.

1. Communication

Almost half of employers (45.2%) agree that communication is the most important quality in a good leader. This encompasses several key skills, including speaking, listening, writing, and visual communication. These are all critical skills in the workplace and there are a number of reasons for this.

Communication is vital for ensuring that employees have the information they need, and for setting out goals, projects, and workloads. It’s also important for building relationships with colleagues and customers, listening to one another, and encouraging teamwork.

Not only this, but without clear communication there is room for mistakes and misunderstandings.

This is why it is crucial that you showcase your communication skills on your resume and highlight your key achievements in this area.

You should quantify these skills wherever possible for maximum impact. For example, ‘oversaw projects between the sales and marketing departments, helping them to develop an advertising strategy that increased sales by 25% in the first 6 months’.

2. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are used to form and maintain meaningful relationships in the workplace. For the most part, this means building healthy relationships with your team and your colleagues, but these skills can also be applied when dealing with customers and clients.

Interpersonal skills are the different qualities that you may use on a daily basis to communicate with others. These encompass lots of skills crucial for leadership, including active listening, teamwork, persuasion, collaboration, and conflict resolution.

As there are lots of key qualities involved here and they can help to boost your application, it’s a good idea to give a few examples that highlight this important skill set.

Employers are always on the lookout for candidates that possess these essential leadership skills.


3. Problem-solving

Problem-solving is a key skill for most roles, but when you’re in a position of leadership, it’s even more critical. As an effective leader, you need to be able to carefully assess different situations to determine the best course of action.

What’s more, as well as tackling your own daily challenges, you may also be responsible for helping your reports or colleagues to solve their own issues. When leaders confidently and frequently solve problems, their teams are likely to build more trust in them and feel more confident turning to them in a crisis.

So, when including this skill in your application, make sure to go into more detail than simply stating ‘problem-solving’. Be sure to give examples of how you’ve tackled problems in the past and the impact this had on the team and business as a whole.

4. Decision-making

Leaders need to be decisive and they need to be able to make smart decisions that are going to positively impact the business. Sometimes, this means making a decision under pressure.

Being skilled at making decisions shows confidence and responsibility, and an ability to weigh up the information provided and take action, even if this means taking a calculated risk. But more than this, being a leader is not just about making decisions yourself, but supporting and guiding the team or junior employees when they are making decisions too.

Showcasing these skills on your resume can be tricky, so it’s best to provide real-world examples of how you’ve made critical decisions in past roles and the value you were able to add to the business as a result.

5. Delegation

Last but not least we have delegation. When you’re in a position of leadership, it’s impossible to do everything yourself. Therefore, being able to show effective delegation skills is something that employers will look for on your resume.

Plus, the ability to assign tasks to your team and colleagues based on capability shows that you can identify who is best suited to tackling tasks and projects.

Not only that but delegation is vital for time management, another important skill that employers will look for in a good candidate. So you can actually demonstrate several key transferable skills.

Sure, there are lots of other skills you can highlight on your resume, but including these five important skills and highlighting your achievements can increase your chances of impressing the recruiter and securing an interview.

Originally published at

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