Boutique data collection agency Bamba Group, which specializes in rapidly gathering consumer insights from emerging markets, has announced that it has raised US$1.1 million in its first seed investment round, potentially making it one of the largest and most successful seed rounds completed by an East African startup.
The investor base spans Silicon Valley, New York, Washington DC, Austin, London and Kenya. The investors include Techstars LLC, Star Powers Partners II LLC, comprising of The Foundry Group, Right Side Capital, Draper Associates, Landscape Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Winshall Walt and Iron Gate Capital, Perivoli Innovations Trust, and a number of individual investors, including Edward J Mathias of the Carlyle Group, and Brett Hurt of data.world.
We are very proud to be investors in Bamba. Not only are [they] providing a very valuable analytics service, but they are also providing jobs in countries that really need them. This is one of those rare businesses that has a combination of a massive market opportunity and a real social impact. Brett Hurt, data.world founder
Other investors include Darshan Chandaria, CEO and director of the Chandaria Industries Group, who invested US$250,000 to be used to expand Bamba’s operations throughout Africa, and Rishi Varma, founder & CEO of AlphaDetail.
Bamba's data collection tools allow the building of highly targeted and responsive panels for data collection, supporting clients from a diverse array of sectors, including market research consulting, private equity, agriculture, education, health, finance, government agencies, NGOs, and private companies.
The versatility and effectiveness of Bamba’s offerings have resulted in numerous high-profile clients, such as Kantar, the Aga Khan Foundation, and IPSOS. “Bamba has made it possible to deliver panel-based projects a lot faster by providing access to highly targeted respondents,” says Arnold Nyakundi of IPSOS Kenya.
“Since then, we’ve further expanded to employ 21 full-time staff, along with numerous other field consultants around the world. It’s incredible; we’ve established a global reach, spanning Canada, US, UK, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria. This is in large part thanks to ongoing support from our investors,” says Al Ismaili.
Bamba’s success in attracting investors was the result of a number of factors. In the past several years, consumers in emerging markets have become more engaged and connected through widespread adoption of smartphone or feature phone technology, presenting the opportunity to finally tap into the wants, needs and opinions of these consumers for companies agile and innovative enough to build the right tools.
Additionally, investors have become increasingly interested in opportunities to invest in the African market in recent years, and accelerator programs have stepped up to take in more African startups into their mentorship programs.
Finally, Bamba was itself accepted into the TechStars accelerator program in 2016, where they gained access to a well-established network that provided them with business development mentorship, customer acquisition, capital, talent recruitment, as well as a sizable initial financial investment as part of the accelerator program.
The main draw for the investors, the company said in the statement, is its unique combination of positive social impact and real functional value.
Having achieved its investment goal for the first seed round, Bamba now looks to the future with plans to put the US$1.1 million towards developing new innovative data collection solutions, supporting a larger number of clients, and expanding its team and geographical reach.