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Kenya’s Twiga Foods eyes West Africa after $30M raise led by Goldman – TechCrunch



Kenya’s Twiga Foods has raised a total of $30 million from lenders and investors led by Goldman Sachs.

The B2B food distribution company financed $6.25 million of the funding in convertible debt and $23.75 million in equity, classified as a Series B round. IFC, TLcom Capital, and Creadev joined Goldman on the VC side.

Twiga will use the funds to set up a distribution center in Nairobi and deepen its conversion to offering supply chain services for both agricultural and FMCG products.

The Nairobi based company will invest in expanding into more cities in Kenya, including Mombasa. Twiga is also targeting Pan-African expansion by third quarter 2020.

“We’re working on French West Africa…we see significant opportunity in those markets,” Twiga CEO Peter Njonjo told TechCrunch. The company will name the new country (or countries) in the following year, he added.

Goldman Sachs confirmed to TechCrunch its lead on Twiga’s Series B funding. The U.S. based finance firm has backed several African startups, including e-commerce venture Jumia and South African fintech startup Jumo.

Twiga’s financing comes 11 months after a $10 million raise and announcement it would create additional revenue streams by moving into B2B supply chain for FMCG and other consumer products.

Prior to this, Twiga focused primarily on agricultural goods and connecting the product of farmers more efficiently to marketplaces.

The venture has moved quickly on diversifying its supply-chain product mix. “We’re not just doing fruits and vegetables…I’d say we’re at 50/50 now between FMCG and fresh,” said Njonjo.

“We’ve pivoted a bit as a company…we see our purpose as an organization around what I would call aggregating the informal retail, then using technology, and then using that buying power to essentially provide lower, better cost goods across cities,” he said.

Co-founded in Nairobi in 2014 by Njonjo and Grant Brooke, Twiga Foods serves around 3,000 outlets a day with produce through a network of 17,000 farmers and 8,000 vendors. Parties can coordinate goods exchanges via mobile app using M-Pesa mobile money for payment.

The company has reduced typical post-harvest losses in Kenya from 30% to 4% for produce brought to market on the Twiga network, according to Njonjo.

Transferring these gains from improved supply-chain to a wider variety of food products has upside for economies and and consumers, he believes.

“[If you] get farmers now producing at large scale and supplying into you, and manufacturers that don’t need to invest in distribution systems, it has huge benefit,” said Njonjo.

“Think about in some of these economies, if you’re spending 55% of disposable income on food, if that number were to go down to 40% — because of…gaining efficiency — what you’ve done is to release 15% for consumers to spend for other things.”

As TechCrunch reported in November, Twiga Foods’ consistent volume and revenue flow from agricultural goods provides a foundation to add other product categories to its B2B network.

“If we can build a business around fresh fruit and vegetables…It’s now much easier to lay things over that would have been very expensive to get to end retailers,” Twiga co-founder Grant Brooke said.

This could put the startup in a position to enter or supply B2C e-commerce with more favorable margins than existing players, i.e., online retailer Jumia — with high fulfillment expenses.

On that prospect, “It’s not something we”re thinking about from a strategic standpoint,” said CEO Njonjo.

But Twiga has factored for its advantages in the B2C e-commerce space. “Let me put it this way, if you’re able to serve Nairobi’s 180,000 retailers, it means that the furthest customer would be less than 2 kilometers away from any shop. That’s the power of building a B2C business on top of a B2B platform. So definitely, the potential is there,” said Njonjo.

That leaves some room for conjecture that Twiga Foods could pivot toward supplying or entering online retail in Africa.

For now the company will focus on performance metrics around its current model.

“We’re not sharing data around revenue and profitability. But…over the next 12 months as we scale, our unit economics is front and center to ensure we’re growing our margins faster than our costs,” said Njonjo.


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Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro flaunts Snapdragon 888 and a shocking price tag



Although it is Qualcomm’s best bet for 2021, very few phones so far carry its Snapdragon 888 chipset. Those that do also have rather high price tags, including the Xiaomi Mi 11 to some extent. The Chinese smartphone superstar, however, isn’t done with the Snapdragon 888 just yet and, at least for certain markets, it may have an even better offer in the guise of the Redmi K40 Pro and Redmi K40 Pro+.

The base Redmi K40 is actually the first of the brand’s K-series to use a Snapdragon 8-series processor. That said, Redmi opted for the Snapdragon 870 here instead, reserving the Snapdragon 888 for the “Pro” models. Both, of course, are 5G-capable and few users might see much difference between the two in real-world use.

The Redmi K40, Redmi K40 Pro, and Redmi K40 Pro+ do share many things in common, particularly the 6.67-inch Samsung E4 AMOLED display with a 2400×1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. This screen has a punch-hole cutout in the middle, hiding a single 20MP camera common to all three. The siblings also have the same 4,520 mAh battery that supports 33W wired fast charging and no wireless charging capabilities at all.

They naturally differ in some aspects, particularly the cameras. While they share the same 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP telemacro cameras, only the Redmi K40 Pro+ boasts of having a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2. The Redmi K40 Pro gets a 64MP Sony IMX686 while the Redmi K40 settles for a 48MP Sony IMX582.

As with many Redmi phones, price is where it’s at. The Redmi K40 Pro+, with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, goes for 3,699 RMB ($570), lower than an equivalent Xiaomi Mi 11 at 4,699 RMB ($727). Of course, the Xiaomi Mi 11 has more features and some better hardware but the Redmi K40 Pro+ definitely covers the basics already. Xiaomi also announced the Redmi AirDots 3 for 199 RMB ($31) that will be launching on March 4 in China along with the Redmi K40 series.

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Wear OS “OK, Google” bug is finally getting a fix soon



Smartwatches are rather curious little gadgets that are like miniaturized and watered-down versions of our smartwatches. For better or worse, that means that smartwatches can’t really use the same interaction conventions and UIs that are almost second nature on smartphones. While touch screens and buttons are always an option, Google has been pushing for more hands-free controls on Wear OS using Google Assistant. Unfortunately, an important part of the process has been broken for months before the company committed to working on a fix.

If Google’s vision is to be followed, smartwatches will primarily be controlled by voice with the screen simply providing visual feedback in addition to spoken responses. Google Assistant is perfect for that role and there are multiple ways to call it up on your wrist. The most convenient is, of course, to literally call it up with “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google” but, unfortunately, that is also the most broken method at the moment.

Users have been complaining that the wake words just don’t work on their Wear OS smartwatches, no matter the brand. It has apparently been the case since November last year but there are also claims that the problem was present even back in June 2020. During that period, Google has seemingly been silent, which naturally caused a lot of disappointment among Wear OS users.

The good news is that Google is no longer silent. It told The Verge that it is aware of users reporting issues and will work with its partners to address those. It doesn’t explain, however, why it took so long for it to even respond to the numerous and loud complaints.

Google also hasn’t given a timeline for the availability of the fix, which could still take weeks or even months. Unfortunately, the incident has opened up old wounds about the state of Wear OS and the dissatisfaction users have over its development or lack of it.

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Galaxy Tab S7 Lite 5G specs give weight to its name



The tablet market today is mostly dominated by Apple’s iPads and only a few Android manufacturers have stuck to that device category through thick and thin. Samsung is arguably the biggest of those, launching a few tablets across different price tiers. Rumor has it that it has at least two more coming soon headed for the mid-range market. One of those may have appeared on a benchmark site showing that the Galaxy Tab S7 Lite 5G might indeed be light in almost every sense.

Samsung doesn’t always put out “lite” versions of its tablets and when it does, it doesn’t always use the same naming scheme. There was a Galaxy Tab S6 Lite last year but that was preceded by a Galaxy Tab S5e. Curiously, there was no “non-lite” Galaxy Tab S5.

There were rumors that a Galaxy Tab S7 Lite would be coming and, based on the most recent leak, it would have some heavyweight features like a large 12.4-inch screen and 5G connectivity. The latter, however, is no longer exclusive to high-end and expensive devices thanks to Qualcomm’s numerous 5G-capable chips and that seems to be the case with the mid-range version of last year’s high-end Samsung tablet.

Spotted on Geekbench is an entry for a certain SM-T736B, believed to either be the Galaxy Tab S7 Lite or a Galaxy Tab S8e. Although the entry doesn’t actually name the processor, MySmartPrice suggests that the specs, like the 2.21 GHz clock speed and Adreno 619 GPU, point to a Snapdragon 750G chipset. This is indeed one of Qualcomm’s mid-range processors capable of 5G connectivity.

The site also puts 3.28GB RAM in the tablet, which could either be 4GB or even 3.5GB in reality. The scores that this device gets on Geekbench aren’t exactly reassuring, especially for a tablet with a large screen and fast data connectivity.

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