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Nigeria’s SeamlessHR raises $10M to expand HR and payroll solutions across Africa

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Nigeria’s SeamlessHR raises $10M to expand HR and payroll solutions across Africa

Africa’s appetite for cloud computing software continues to increase as connectivity and bandwidth opportunities push boundaries. Per reports, the continent’s cloud computing industry coupled with the Middle East is expected to grow to $31.4 billion in 2026 from $14.2 billion last year.

SeamlessHR, a Nigeria-based company that wants to help African businesses “leverage the continent’s greatest asset: abundant human capital” with its cloud-based human resources (HR) and payroll software, has raised $10 million in Series A funding for its next phase of growth and regional expansion.

Pan-African venture capital firm TLcom Capital led the round. New investor Capria Ventures and existing investors Lateral Frontier Ventures, Enza Capital and Ingressive Capital participated.

The company’s eponymous product is a cloud-based, end-to-end HR software that helps businesses manage and streamline their entire human resource processes and workflow.

Its product suite includes an HR management system, performance and competency management, HR analytics, leave management, payroll management and recruitment management.

CEO Emmanuel Okeleji and CTO Deji Lana didn’t build SeamlessHR from the get-go. It was four years after several iterations of Insidify, an aggregator site for job seekers and a review site for companies that they started SeamlessHR in 2018.

“The natural client for our job sites was the HR,” CEO Okeleji told TechCrunch on a call. “So we thought, ‘how can we help HR to become more productive and successful so that they can run a better, more profitable company and hire more people in the process?’”

The founder also said one of the reasons for the pivot from Insidify to SeamlessHR was because the former wasn’t profitable and lacked the flexibility to scale across Africa.

With SeamlessHR, both goals could be accomplished and a year after launching SeamlessHR’s MVP, revenues picked up and was 10 times more than Insidify’s

Initially, the company signed a couple of smaller companies to build its reputation. But over time, it began to focus on bigger clients and signed up a bank as its first main enterprise customer. The company said that its enterprise-grade solution caters to various companies. They range from businesses with 100 employees or fewer to large enterprises with more than 10,000 employees; and from multinationals and banks such as PwC, AXA and Sterling Bank to startups and investment firms like Flutterwave and TGI Group.

Over 100,000 employees from these organizations use SeamlessHR monthly. “We have the largest aggregation of medium-to-very large companies in Africa,” Okeleji remarked.

Four years in, SeamlessHR is now rich with human resources and payroll data after handling salaries for several hundreds of companies. Sitting on top of such data provides leverage to build out more vertical products; for this reason, SeamlessHR will venture into launching embedded finance products for employees.

Here’s how it will work: Say a company is using SeamlessHR for its 5,000 employees; any one of them can tap into the platform’s earned wage access where they can get their salaries up until the point they’ve worked. It’s a typical salary structure in markets such as the U.S. but rarely used in markets like Nigeria.

“In Africa, the innovation that allows people to access credit from their jobs doesn’t happen. And an HR payroll software is well-positioned to lead that innovation because we use finance, technology and HR to help people convert their employment into collateral to access safe credit,” stated the CEO, who believes the company’s cash advances will appeal more to employees than “predatory” loans offered by some lending companies.

Africa’s payroll and HR management market has witnessed the emergence of newer companies such as YC-backed Workpay and Bento. They help businesses with salary disbursement, taxes and pension, carving out a niche for themselves in a market that appears to be dominated by SeamlessHR.

Building an HR solution in Africa requires more workaround than in developed markets, where most small businesses can afford to pay for software. The opportunity in Africa primarily lies with large corporates, not SMEs. They have higher purchasing power and a greater need for HR solutions; they make up the bulk of SeamlessHR’s customers.

SeamlessHR has also eaten into the market share of legacy and “on-premise” systems like SAP and Oracle, commonly used by large companies locally. Companies now know they can do without hiring employees who need certifications to manage software and concentrate on setting and onboarding cloud-based software solutions capable of serving their needs, albeit cheaper. Localization of software also plays a part in SeamlessHR replacing these legacy systems in Nigeria.

TLcom Capital partner Andreata Muforo said of the investment, “The strong execution shown by Emmanuel and his team is a vital ingredient required to build a successful business and as they expand their products to include embedded finance and launch their solutions to new markets, we’re proud to partner alongside them and strengthen their push to unlock more value within Africa’s B2B space.

The company says its new funding will further strengthen its position as “Africa’s leading cloud HR and payroll platform.” Okeleji, who had a brief stint as an investment banker and practised as a doctor, said on the call that SeamlessHR would take its business south of the continent with South Africa as operating hub, thus hiring more staff.

The company currently has a presence in Nigeria and Kenya; it’ll also use the funds to expand further in the East African country and surrounding markets.

Product-wise, SeamlessHR plans to build out its embedded finance offerings and provide additional functionalities, especially around artificial intelligence, data analytics and machine learning.

Okeleji mentioned that SeamlessHR would move beyond human resources and payroll at some point into other departments that make organizations tick. He also hinted at the possibility of SeamlessHR scaling beyond Africa into other global markets, referencing the recent strides made by India’s Freshworks.

“We are building software solutions to optimize HR now, but in the future, we’ll go to other areas beyond HR. And we are positioned to build a global SaaS company because SaaS products can travel the world faster than, say, fintech. We’re beating global players in our local market and while we are not distracting ourselves now, we know we can play this game globally.”

Source: Tech

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Paack pulls in a $225M Series D led by SoftBank to scale its E-commerce delivery platform

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By now, many of us are familiar with the warehouse robots which populate those vast spaces occupied by the likes of Amazon and others. In particular, Amazon was very much a pioneer of the technology. But it’s 2021 now, and allying warehouse robots with a software logistics platform is no longer the monopoly of one company.

One late-stage startup which has been ‘making hay’ with the whole idea is Paack, an e-commerce delivery platform which a sophisticated software platform that integrates with the robotics which are essential to modern-day logistics operations.

It’s now raised €200m ($225m) in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The capital will be used for product development and European expansion.

New participants for this round also include Infravia Capital Partners, First Bridge Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Returning investors include Unbound, Kibo Ventures, Big Sur Ventures, RPS Ventures, Fuse Partners, Rider Global, Castel Capital, and Iñaki Berenguer.

This funding round comes after the creation of a profitable position in its home market of Spain, but Paack claims it’s on track to achieve similar across its European operations, Such as in the UK, France, and Portugal.

Founded by Fernando Benito, Xavier Rosales and Suraj Shirvankar, Paack now says it’s delivering several million orders per month from 150 international clients, processing 10,000 parcels per hour, per site. Some 17 of them are amongst the largest e-commerce retailers in Spain.

The startup’s systems integrate with e-commerce sites. This means consumers are able to customize their delivery schedule at checkout, says the company.

Benito, CEO and Co-founder, said: “Demand for convenient, timely, and more sustainable methods of delivery is going to explode over the next few years and Paack is providing the solution. We use technology to provide consumers with control and choice over their deliveries, and reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution.” 

Max Ohrstrand, Investment Director at SoftBank Investment Advisers said: “As the e-commerce sector continues to flourish and same-day delivery is increasingly the norm for consumers, we believe Paack is well-positioned to become the category leader both in terms of its technology and commitment to sustainability.”

According to research from the World Economic Forum (WEF), the last-mile delivery business is expected to grow 78% by 2030, causing a rise in CO2 emissions of nearly one-third.

As a result, Paack claim it aims to deliver all parcels at carbon net-zero by measuring its environmental impact, using electric last-mile delivery vehicles. It is now seeking certification with The Carbon Trust and United Nations.

In an interview Benito told me: “We have a very clear short term vision which is to lead sustainable e-commerce delivers in Europe… through technology via what we think is perhaps the most advanced tech delivery platform for last-mile delivery. Our CTO was the CTO and co-founder of Google Cloud, for instance.”

“We are developing everything from warehouse automation, time windows, routing integrations etc. in order to achieve the best delivery experience.”

Paack says it is able to work with more than one robotics partner, but presently it is using robots from Chinese firm GEEK.

The company hopes it can compete with the likes of DHL, Instabox, and La Poste in Europe, which are large incumbents.

Source: Tech

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Infermedica raises $30M to expand its AI-based medical guidance platform

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Infermedica, a Poland-founded digital health company that offers AI-powered solutions for symptom analysis and patient triage, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. The round was led by One Peak and included participation from previous investors Karma Ventures, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Heal Capital and Inovo Venture Partners. The new capital means the startup has raised $45 million in total to date.

Founded in 2012, Infermedica aims to make it easier for doctors to pre-diagnose, triage and direct their patients to appropriate medical services. The company’s mission is to make primary care more accessible and affordable by introducing automation into healthcare. Infermedica has created a B2B platform for health systems, payers and providers that automates patient triage, the intake process and follow-up after a visit. Since its launch, Infermedica is being used in more than 30 countries in 19 languages and has completed more than 10 million health checks.

The company offers a preliminary diagnosis symptom checker, an AI-driven software that supports call operators making timely triage recommendations and an application programming interface that allows users to build customized diagnostic solutions from scratch. Like a plethora of competitors, such as Ada Health and Babylon, Infermedica combines the expertise of physicians with its own algorithms to offer symptom triage and patient advice.

In terms of the new funding, Infermedica CEO Piotr Orzechowski told TechCrunch in an email that the investment will be used to further develop the company’s Medical Guidance Platform and add new modules to cover the full primary care journey. Last year, Infermedica’s team grew by 80% to 180 specialists, including physicians, data scientists and engineers. Orzechowski says Infermedica has an ambitious plan to nearly double its team in the next 12 months.

Image Credits: Infermedica

“We will invest heavily into our people and our products, rolling out new modules of our platform as well as expanding our underlying AI capabilities in terms of disease coverage and accuracy,” Orzechowski said. “From the commercial perspective, our goal is to strengthen our position in the US and DACH and we will focus the majority of our sales and marketing efforts there.”

Regarding the future, Orzechowski said he’s a firm believer that there will be fully automated self-care bots in 5-10 years that will be available 24/7 to help providers find solutions to low acuity health concerns, such as a cold or UTI.

“According to WHO, by 2030 we might see a shortage of almost 10 million doctors, nurses and midwives globally,” Orzechowski said. “Having certain constraints on how fast we can train healthcare professionals, our long-term plan assumes that AI will become a core element of every modern healthcare system by navigating patients and automating mundane tasks, saving the precious time of clinical staff and supporting them with clinically accurate technology.”

Infermedica’s Series B round follows its $10 million Series A investment announced in August 2020. The round was led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and digital health fund Heal Capital. Existing investors Karma Ventures, Inovo Venture Partners and Dreamit Ventures also participated in the round.

Source: Tech

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KKR invests $45M into GrowSari, a B2B platform for Filipino MSMEs

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A sari-sari store owner who uses GrowSari

GrowSari, the Manila-based startup that helps small shops grow and digitize, announced today that KKR will lead its Series C round with a $45 million investment. The funds will be used to enter new regions in the Philippines and expand its financial products. The Series C round is still ongoing and the startup says it is already oversubscribed, with the final composition currently being finalized. 

Before its Series C, GrowSari’s total raised was $30 million. TechCrunch last wrote about GrowSari in June 2021, when it announced its Series B. Since then, it has expanded the number of municipalities it serves from 100 to 220, and now has a customer base of 100,000 micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) store owners. 

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a B2B platform that offers almost every kind of service that small- to medium-sized retailers, including neighborhood stores that carry daily necessities (called sari-saris), roadside and market shops and pharmacies, need.

For example, it has a wholesale marketplace with products from major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands like Unilever, P&G and Nestle. It partners with over 200 providers, like telecoms, fintechs and subscription plans, so sari-saris can offer services like top-ups and bill payments to their customers. 

Sari-sari operators can also use GrowSari to launch e-commerce stores and access short-term working capital loans to buy inventory. The startup’s other financial products include digital wallets and cash-in services, and it is looking at adding remittance, insurance and loans in partnership with other providers. 

The new funding will be used to expand into the Visayas and Mindanao, the two other main geographical regions in the Philippines, with the goal of covering all 1.1 million “mom and pop” stores in the Philippines. 

Source: Tech

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