Poa Internet, a Kenyan startup Internet Service Provider(ISP) which entered the country in 2015, has received $ 28 Million in Series C funding round led by Africa50, bringing the total amount it has raised to $ 36 Million.
Also participating in the latest round was Novastar Ventures, one of the firm’s earlier financial backers.
Poa Internet plans to use the new funding to grow its reach, first across Kenya then progressively to other countries in Africa.
Poa Internet vision and mission
According to Poa Internet co-founder and CEO Andy Halsall, the firm is concentrating on Kenya while aiming to sort out Africa’s problems but getting more people online and provide more internet experience including the ability to streamline videos without worrying about data consumption.
The ISP startup currently serves over 12,000 customers (homes and small businesses) in Nairobi’s low and middle-income neighborhoods, and tens of thousands more through its street Wi-Fi connections.
The firm has laid out its fiber network in neighborhoods that are typically not the first target markets for its competitors like Safaricom Home by East Africa’s biggest telco Safaricom, Faiba by Jamii Telecommunication Limited and Zuku.
Poa Internet charges its customers a monthly fee of about $13, which is half the market rate, giving it a competitive edge.
Its customers also have unlimited data usage, another aspect that makes their products attractive to internet users in Kenya, where major ISPs offer monthly subscription bundles with data caps.
The startup has also set up Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas, where users pay about $0.18 for 1 GB of data, 10 times cheaper than Kenya’s telcos charge for a similar bundle of non-expiring internet.
Poa Internet offers internet speeds of 4mbps, which is fast enough for video, streaming of Netflix, accessing YouTube, downloading movies or making video calls.
“Our primary focus is to get the price as low as possible and to operate in the communities that do not have fiber connectivity or are unlikely to get fiber. Therefore, we are not really going to compete against anyone because we are going after a market sector that is not well served,” said Halsall.
In 2020, Africa50, an infrastructure financier backed by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Group and a good number of African governments, hosted an innovation challenge that sought affordable and reliable solutions for last-mile internet connectivity across the continent.
A proposal by Poa Internet, a Kenyan startup beat 673 others from across the world as a result of which it was added to Africa50’s investment pipeline in addition to winning a cash prize.
“Poa has been instrumental in bridging the needs of last- mile connectivity, and their ultra-low-cost solutions can be used to address the significant connectivity gaps in Kenya and across the continent as a whole.
This is particularly important at a time when societies and economic activities are increasingly becoming digitized as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Africa50 Managing Director and Head of Infrastructure Investments at Africa50, Raza Hasnani.