Stears, a Nigerian data and insights company, announced Tuesday it has raised $3.3 million in a seed round backed by Serena Williams‘ investment company, Serena Ventures.
The round was led by MaC Venture Capital with the participation of Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Cascador, and Hoaq Club.
The company said it plans to use the investment to enhance its data collection and analytics capabilities, talent acquisition and expansion to East and Southern Africa.
Serena Williams, who has said she would focus on investing after retiring from tennis last month after the U.S. Open, said: “One of the reasons I invested in Stears is not because of my love and appreciation for Africa, but because Stears has strategically thought of how to increase the investment community on the continent.”
“Better and more transparent business and financial data is expected to lead to more investment on the African continent.
“Stears has shown a deep appreciation of the complexities involved in solving this problem for global professionals. Through a combination of technology and data, Stears is well placed to leverage the massive data opportunity on the continent,” she said.
Stears is a financial data and intelligence company providing subscription-based data and insight to businesses and professionals.
It was founded in 2017 by Preston Ideh, Abdul Abdulrahim, Foluso Ogunlana, and Michael Famoroti, who met at the London School of Economics and Imperial College in the UK.
The founders said they noticed how difficult it was to get data-driven insights on the African continent, and decided to team up and start an insights company focused on Nigeria.
The company said its customers can make intelligent decisions about African economies and markets by leveraging publicly available macroeconomic and financial data, its proprietary datasets, and its deep analytical expertise.
Last month, the company was one of the 60 startups to get accepted into the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund 2022 cohort, which included some non-dilutive funding, according to Techcrunch.
Speaking on the funding round, the co-founder, Preston Ideh, said “We know global professionals need our data and insight because banks, research firms, development organizations, and investors are already using our early products. Our customers tell us we are building a ‘systemically important’ company to address Africa’s data problem.
“Globally, information providers like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have built data powerhouses, which act as information gateways to Western markets. We are executing an African version of this model, focused on the often missing, outdated, or poorly digitized African datasets needed by operators, finance and policy professionals, researchers, and even regulators,” he added.
Co-founder and managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital, Marlon Nichols, said “Africa is home to the first humans and is now the next frontier for business. Many multinational corporations and governments understand this to be a reality.
“They also appreciate that several African countries are subject to unique business processes and are primarily cash-based economies, which results in understated GDP, among other things. Stears is uniquely positioned to provide the proprietary and accurate data needed to unlock trade and deeper business relationships with African countries and companies.”