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Kune, a Kenyan food-tech startup that delivered ready-to-eat meals at affordable prices closed down yesterday.
In a statement posted by the company’s founder and CEO Robin Reecht, Kune was apparently hit by a stifled economy and inflated food prices.
“With the current economic downturn and investment markets tightening up, we were unable to raise our next round. Coupled with rising food costs deteriorating our margins, we just couldn’t keep going,” Reecht said.
The announcement comes just 4 months after the startup began its commercial operations at established meal centres around Nairobi. Around that time, Kune leadership also declared its intentions to raise $3.5 million in its second round of funding.
Was there a foreboding tune?
Many believe Kune should have listened to Kenyans.
Before launch, Kune faced its fair share of controversy on Twitter after it was revealed that Reecht, who is white and French, was able to easily secure funding for Kune mere months after founding Kune. Kenyans were aggrieved by his comments, and did not hesitate to voice their critiques. They argued that Reecht’s ability to secure funding so quickly was due more to his white privilege than his business plan, which some believed aimed to solve a nonexistent problem. Those discussions gave way to a larger conversation about white privilege and favouritism in tech, as well as Kenya’s neglect of its local founders.
Zoom out: While its launch might have been met with hesitation, Kune was well-liked by its customers. Kune reportedly sold more than 55,000 meals and acquired more than 6,000 individual customers and 100 corporate customers.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has rejected the highly contentious ICT Practitioners Bill. On Tuesday, the president reportedly signed 10 new bills into law but rejected 3, including the ICT Bill.
The announcement was made by Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Mucheru, on Twitter.
Earlier in June, Kenya’s 12th parliament passed the controversial 2020 proposal that seeks to regulate “anyone who employs technologies to collect, process, store or transfer information for a fee”.
Kenya’s parliament has faced a wave of criticism from the public since passing the bill, with over 15,000 people signing this Change.org petition to stop the bill. Notable government officials have also expressed their distaste for the bill. Mucheru opposed the bill, saying, “This ICT Bill is a private member’s bill. As a ministry, we continuously fought against this bill in its various forms.”
Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, also threw his weight against the bill, saying, “I find the move to regulate ICT practitioners impractical and counter-productive. It negates the goals and visions of the National ICT Policy and Digital Strategies.”
Zoom out: While Kenyatta may have rejected the bill, there are still steps the Kenyan parliament can take to ensure the bill becomes law. Section 115 of the Kenyan Constitution states that where the country’s president rejects a bill, he should provide his reservations about the bill, which will be considered by lawmakers. The parliament may then amend the bill with the consideration of the president and resubmit it for assent.
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Nigerian API-based startup Thepeer has raised $2.1 million in a seed round led by The Raba Partnership. Other participants in the funding round include Rali_cap Venture, BYLD, Timon Capital, Musha Ventures, Sunu, Uncovered Fund, Chipper Cash, and Stitch.
This round of funding comes a year after the startup raised a $220,000 pre-seed round from angel investors including Paystack’s co-founder and CTO Ezra Olubi, and Eden Life’s co-founder and CTO, Prosper Otemuyiwa. So far, Thepeer has raised $2.32 million.
What Thepeer does
Flutterwave facilitates online payments from bank accounts using cards. Similarly, Thepeer enables in-app payments and money transfers directly from the digital wallets of fintechs. The startup provides API-powered products that connect fintechs to businesses just like Flutterwave connects banks to businesses.
One of its API products is called Send. Send allows customers of businesses who integrate its API to send money to each other using just their emails or usernames, without leaving their respective apps.
Another product, Checkout, works like Send but is specifically for e-commerce stores like online clothing stores and restaurants.
They also have a product called Direct Charge that allows customers of different businesses to fund their wallets from other businesses.
So far so good
So far, they have been getting things right.
They went live in August 2021 and have since recorded 161% average month-on-month transaction growth. According to Thepeer, their monthly transaction volume has grown by over 6,500% and they now process millions of dollars for businesses.
How they will use the funding
The funding most likely will be directed towards the startup’s plans to roll out wallets in other currencies as it currently deals with naira wallets. It will also be used to finance the addition of more functionalities to its product suite and more talents to its workforce.
Co-founder and CEO, Chike Ononye, said, “Our focus remains on product innovation and serving our customers who operate across different geographies.”
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