An unexpected startup investment in Congo, Iraq, Uganda and Bangladesh? defy.

Entrepreneurship and investing are notoriously risky businesses. But there is one area in which founders and venture capitalists avoid risk: geography.

Overwhelmingly, funded startups are clustered in highly-rated countries for ease of doing business. You rarely see them in countries that are known as the most dangerous and difficult places to start new ventures.

This basic idea seems obvious, but we thought it would be interesting to see if there are unexpected places where startup funding is ramping up. To do this, we took the World Bank classification1 Among the 190 best and worst countries for doing business. We then used Crunchbase data to see how countries at the bottom of the list are seeing gains in startup investment.

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Turns out there are quite a few countries where this applies, with seed and venture investment reaching more parts of the world. For simplicity, we chose four countries that were not previously hubs for startups but are experiencing sharp growth in funding:

No. 1: Democratic Republic of the Congo

We’ll start with the Congo, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa with a population of about 108 million. It is a place with a famous horrific colonial history, followed by several turbulent decades under the leadership of a series of powerful leaders. Although vast and rich in natural resources, it was never an easy place to make a living or start a business.

But the Congo is too big for startups to completely ignore. Since 2021, about $10.4 million in funding has gone to well-known Congolese startups listed on Crunchbase.

While the Congo numbers may not seem like much, they are a leap from previous years. For the 2010-2020 decade, for example, Congolese companies raised just $1.2 million in seed funding through project financing, per Crunchbase.

Among the largest recipients of funding in recent times tech group, Provider of solar energy and clean cooking stoves. The company raised $1.5 million in equity financing, with the social investor SIMA money as a backer, along with $7.1 million in debt financing, per Crunchbase.

Another $37.5 million went to jumbo this year. African ‘Web3 SuperApp’ With Congo-born founders, the company recently secured a $30 million round in May led by a crypto-focused investment firm Model. (It is unclear if Gambo also has a presence in the Congo.)

No. 2: Iraq

Iraq is not exactly the epicenter of tech startups. From 2010 to 2020, only about $2 million of total known project and seed funding went to Iraqi startups, according to Crunchbase data.

However, things have started to improve recently. Since 2021, Baghdad-based startups have raised at least $13.7 million in equity funding, per Crunchbase. There is even a dedicated box, Iraq’s technical projectsHe says he is focused on “diversifying Iraq’s economy away from oil to more sustainable sectors such as technology.”

In recent quarters, the largest recipient of funding is Bali, a Baghdad-based taxi hailing app that raised $10.5 million earlier this year. while, Quick 3a startup in the field of food delivery, made $ 3.2 million.

No. 3: Uganda

Uganda is said to have the smallest population in the world, with estimated 45% of its population is under the age of 15. Only 2% of the population of this sub-Saharan country is 65 or older (compared to about 17% of Americans).

Some of this youthful energy appears to be channeled into startup ventures. Since 2021, at least 20 Ugandan startups have withdrawn funding for seed debts, projects or projects, per Crunchbase, and have collectively raised more than $40 million. By comparison, in the entire decade from 2010 to 2020, Ugandan startups made less than half of that.

The biggest name is recruiting, a Kampala-based start-up that provides financing and services to small businesses and individual operators who want to own income-generating assets such as motorbikes and cars. According to Crunchbase data, Tugende has pulled out $22 million in equity financing and $27 million in debt financing so far. The company also announce A pre-Series B in an undisclosed size in June.

telemedicine provider Rocket Health Africa One of the biggest rounds also landed, with a $5 million Series A announced in March. The Kampala-based company offers smartphone doctor consultations, lab sample pickups and drug delivery.

No. 4: Bangladesh

With around 170 million people, Bangladesh is the eighth most populous country on earth. However, Bangladesh ranks first in terms of land mass number 94Which means that it is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Despite geographical challenges, Bangladeshis have a proven track record, being among the The fastest growing economies in the world over the past decade. This led to a sharp rise in funded start-ups, many of which use goods and services for consumers and businesses in the domestic market, as well as export-oriented projects.

Crunchbase lists nearly 100 seeds from the adventure tours of Bangladesh-based companies that have closed since last year, and have collectively raised more than $230 million. Most of that went to one company: Dhaka-based ShopUpA B2B trading platform for small businesses that has raised over $200 million in project financing. E-commerce, logistics and delivery dominate the other larger rounds.


Our funding survey included only rounds recorded in the Crunchbase dataset. Due to language barriers, decisions not to publicly announce fundraising, and other reasons, other funding rounds may have occurred in the countries surveyed that were not included in the data set.

Clarification: Lee Ann Dias

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