Apple is coming for your bank accounts!

About Fatu
By Fatu Ogwuche

Top of mind: Happy Sunday!

It’s September, which means it’s the time of the year that Apple guts your bank accounts with new product releases.

This year is no different. We’re getting new iPhones, AirPods and an Ultra Apple Watch.

Let’s get to it.

3 big things:

  • Apple’s new products
  • Google’s Black Fund
  • Kuda Bank’s layoffs

Apple is coming for your bank accounts!

Cover art by Samuel Jolayemi

The short: Apple held its Far Out September event with new iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods Pro.

New iPhone: It’s literally ‘go big or go home’ for the base iPhone 14 lineup, with the iPhone 14 and 14 plus coming in at 6.1 and 6.7 inches and the ‘mini’ version missing in action. 

The iPhone 14 is a minor improvement from last year with a slightly better screen, battery and camera – it’s more like an iPhone 13 upgrade.

The Pros: The 14 pro and 14 pro max are more exciting while mirroring the 14 and 14 plus in size. The camera upgrade is substantial. In addition, the long-awaited refresh to the notch Apple is calling the “dynamic island”. Hilarious name aside, it’s a significant upgrade unlocking a level of multitasking never seen on an iPhone. 

Apple Watch: The new watch on the block is the Ultra. It’s packed with bleeding-edge specs for pro athletes. The Ultra has better battery life, a much brighter screen and a customisable action button.

AirPods Pro: The Pros get a modest upgrade. The headline feature is the H2 chip for better noise cancelling. In addition, the stem now has volume control, so you don’t need to reach for your device to change that anymore. 

Final thoughts: I’ve got my eyes on the new AirPods Pro, but that’s about it. My bank account gets a reprieve this September. Are you splurging this year? 😅

Let me know by replying to this email 🙂

Google’s making startups happy

The short: Google is giving $4 million in investments to 60 African startups through its Black Founders Fund program.

The Black fund: The 60 startups will get up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credit and equity-free capital ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. They will also receive free training and mentorship for six months.

The country with the most grantees – as expected – are Nigeria (23), followed by Kenya (12), Rwanda (6), South Africa (5), Uganda (4), Cameroon (3), Ghana (3), Ethiopia (2), Botswana (1), and Senegal (1).

How the startups were selected: Google considered three factors – product-market fit, startup-programme fit, and founder potential with high marks for startups with innovative leaders.

Google for Women: 93% of the funding raised by African startups in 2021 went to those with a male CEO, while startups raised less than 1% with an all-female founding team or a single female founder. 

This fund closes that gap a bit. 50% of the grantees are female-led startups specialising in fintech, healthcare, eCommerce, logistics, agritech, education, hospitality, and smart cities.

Final thoughts: The Black Fund has generated more than $290 million in financing and over 4,600 new jobs since its 2012 launch. That’s impressive.

Google’s putting its money where its mouth is, and with the current bear market, I’m sure startups are glad to get some extra cash.

Kuda’s laying off employees

The short: Kuda Bank lays off 5% of its workforce as it plans expansion.

Layoffs are painful: Kuda, Nigeria’s first digital-only bank, is the latest startup to lay off employees. It reportedly laid off about 23 individuals or less than 5% of its 450-person staff.

It’s not severe compared to the other African tech companies that laid off staff, despite getting large sums in financing from venture capital firms. Swvl, for example, laid off 400 employees; Wave, around 300; 54gene, 95; and Vezeeta, 50.

The current economic climate is forcing startups to cut costs, especially with an expansion on the horizon.

Expanding across Africa: Kuda bank raised $55 million in Series B financing in August, valuing the company at $500 million. The company said it intends to use its new raise to offer more services in Nigeria and expand into East and West Africa.

Final thoughts: Layoffs are never good news, but understandably, the company wants to redirect some funds for its long-term goals, which is smart. 

Godspeed, Kuda!

That’s it for the week. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this week’s issue. Please respond to this email or find me on Twitter @fatuogwuche 🙂 

Ps – do us a solid by sharing the newsletter with your network of tech enthusiasts. Invite them to join the party 🙂

See you next Sunday!

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