The African continent is in the midst of a massive generational shift, and with it a technological revolution. A young, middle-class, and rapidly growing population — 1.3B people with an average age of 19 years old — is in the driver’s seat. Similar to how we’ve seen technology adopted in other emerging markets like India or China, this generation is mobile-first, relying on their mobile phones for all aspects of their lives — from work, to finance, to socializing and entertainment.
In particular, we see a huge opportunity for a next-generation games platform and social network in Africa. Today, few international games target an African audience at launch, and even fewer localize and design for the continent — taking into account regional taste and languages. Payments is also a major barrier for international developers — as payment methods in Africa remain highly fragmented with 270+ mobile wallets, 500+ banks, and several card networks across 55 countries. For this reason, the majority of mobile games today in Africa accept payments only via PayPal or international credit cards – both of which have little to no penetration in the continent.
Against this backdrop, we were particularly excited to meet the Carry1st team. Carry1st is Africa’s leading mobile games publisher, serving over one million users today. Most notably, Carry1st has aggregated Africa’s disparate payment networks into a modern fintech platform, ultimately creating a one-stop solution for other game publishers to manage, distribute, and collect payments from end users across 90 different payment methods. This fintech platform currently powers the Carry1st Shop, a destination for African consumers to purchase gaming vouchers, lifestyle and entertainment content, and daily essentials through their favorite payment method.
Today, we’re excited to announce that Andreessen Horowitz is leading a $20M investment in Carry1st, alongside our friends at Avenir, Google as well as angel investors including Nas, the founders of Axie Infinity, Yield Guild Games, and Chipper Cash among many others. We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with founders Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hoffman, Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, and the Carry1st team on their mission to build the Garena (Sea Ltd) of Africa.
David Haber is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz where he focuses on technology investments in financial services.
Jonathan Lai is a General Partner and founding investor of A16Z GAMES. Jon focuses on investing at the intersection of games and consumer, social, web3, infrastructure, and fintech.