Africa has its first billion dollar company, and it’s all about tech

africa internet group screen shot 2016 04 05 at 11 44 54 am

Africa’s very first billion-dollar company isn’t a ride-sharing service, a social media platform, or part of the on-demand industry. Rather, this four-year-old wonder has built its success by helping others, bringing an entire continent into the 21st century. The Africa Internet Group (AIG), founded in 2012, has come a long way since its inception, and currently operates 71 companies across 26 countries in industries extending from online retail to real estate to a P2P lending marketplace. And now, it’s Africa’s first unicorn, and has garnered yet another significant investment from a major company — this time in the form of $85 million from French mobile giant Orange.

AIG has maintained a crucial role in shaping Africa’s e-commerce identity in the last several years, with the goal of developing “young African talent in [an] exciting and rapidly growing digital economy.” Hoping to help jump-start the next generation of entrepreneurs, AIG has expanded beyond its roots as the “African Amazon,” now boasting a total of 10 e-commerce sites operating in 23 African nations, all stemming from Nigerian-based Jumia. And given Orange’s influence in the mobile space, another high-potential market in Africa, its investment may help further AIG’s multiple businesses, perhaps by offering reduced or free data to certain customers.

 “We are thrilled by Orange’s equity investment and are eager to translate our strategic partnership into unique offers for our customers,” said Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, founders and co-CEOs of Jumia and Africa Internet Group. “Jumia and our other online consumer services give millions of African consumers an opportunity to access and transact with local companies in a new and very convenient way. With Orange’s support and expertise, combined with that of our existing long-standing shareholders, we will be able to further improve our service offerings and the customer experience while continuing to invest in our infrastructure.”
Updated by Jeffrey Van Camp: Fixed a typo in the headline that referred to Africa as a country. 
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