List of Africa’s 100 fastest-growing companies includes more than 40 from SA
Among the top performers in South Africa are IT companies, a mining house and a reseller of second-hand luxury goods, which has been named the fastest-growing retail company in Africa and is 37th overall.
The Financial Times’ Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies 2023 list of 100 reveals that sectors such as fintech, renewable energy, construction and healthcare grew their businesses over the past year, shaking off the pandemic and gearing for the future.
Among the top performers in South Africa are IT companies, a mining house and a reseller of second-hand luxury goods, which has been named the fastest growing retail company in Africa and is 37th overall — beating the growth of more established giants Sygnia, Naspers, Purple Group and others.
That’s not to say the companies are on an equal footing when it comes to revenue: the list merely provides an overview of a company’s growth. And some are motoring ahead.
The FT ranking notes that in the fastest-growing companies list’s inaugural year, Covid-19 had accelerated the move online, and companies providing digital services in finance, payments, trade facilitation and healthcare were 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 startup scene, particularly in the tech hubs of Lagos, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Cairo.”
Quoting Steve Beck, the cofounder of Novastar Ventures, a Nairobi venture capital firm, the report said African tech startups had raised $5.2-billion in 2021, three times more than in 2020.
Top of the list
Two Nigerian companies top the latest list of the continent’s fastest-growing companies. Abuja-based Afex Commodities Exchange, a commodities brokerage for maize, sorghum, cocoa and rice, is in first position with a compound annual growth rate over the past three years of 505.3%. It was founded in 2014.
In second place is Moniepoint from Lagos, which offers banking for small businesses. It has grown by 321% over the past three years.
In third place is Sokowatch from Kenya, which topped the list last year. The e-commerce company helps small traders to access inventory through more efficient supply chains in seven African countries.
Startups dominate, but do not monopolise, the list, which also features metals and mining, telecoms, healthcare, food and beverages, and construction companies.
The list includes a Namibian table grape producer — Silverlands, in the Aussenkehr Valley along the Orange River — a Kenyan fish farm, a South African company that conducts remote hearing tests, and renewable energy companies in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.
Forty-one South African companies are included in the list, with Deimos Cloud, which grew by 177% and attained revenue of $9.5-million during the period at number six, whereas mining giant Northam Platinum, at 23, grew by just under 63% and made $2.12-billion — less than No 29, Implats (at $8.4-billion), which grew by 53.46%.
At No 37 on the list is Luxity, which grew by 48.8% and generated $1.9-million in 2021.
Luxity is South Africa’s biggest pre-owned luxury reseller, boasting a 75% increase in sales over the past financial year, which it says is driven by affordability, investment potential, sustainability concerns and availability.
Company co-founder Michael Zahariev says that with luxury brands like Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton increasing their prices in some instances by as much as 25%, Luxity has seen a boom in sales because it offers customers the opportunity to purchase high-end items at a fraction of the original cost.
“These price increases also allow people to sell their items at higher prices, allowing for more supply to the market.”
The list was once again compiled with the research company Statista, which ranked companies by their compound annual growth rate in revenue between 2018 and 2021.
By researching public information, Statista identified companies in Africa as potential candidates for the FT ranking, which were then invited to participate.
To be included in the list, companies had to generate revenue of at least $100,000 in 2018 and $1.5-million in 2021, and have their headquarters in Africa.
Many fast-growing companies are privately held, the FT notes, so they 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… 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, the authors say, will reveal just how enduring their business models were. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.