Africa's early stage and certain technology companies face the often life-threatening impediment of inadequate access to seed and early-stage funding. Fortunately, a number of developments that took place last year indicate that the trend is changing.
Throughout 2018, according to the Digest Africa Index, 16 fund managers raised or committed funds through 20 deals from 60 investors. The total raised amounted to $1.094 billion with Nasper's $314 million commitment coming off as the highest and MTN Uganda's commitment of $250,000 as the smallest. Amongst governments, only Rwanda and South Africa - across the continent - announced funds dedicated to either early stage or technology companies. The European Investment Bank was the most active Limited Partner, participating in five funds.
Early stage investment focused funds recorded the highest number of raises and commitments from 39 investors translating into $743.2 million in total funds raised which is 67.9% of the total. Some of the notable funds focused on early-stage investments are Naspers Foundry which is 30% of the $314 million that Naspers committed to investing in South Africa throughout 2019 as well as Africa Tech Ventures' $17.5 million that it raised as part of its $50 million Seed stage focused fund. SunFunder’s $25 million that it raised as part of the $100 million Solar Energy Transformation Fund was the only debt-focused fund raised last year.
47.7% of the funds raised last year were geared towards investments into startups and high growth potential companies operating in any sector while 42.3% of the funds raised were tagged to technology companies.
Top 10 Funds raised
Naspers with its $314 million fund aimed at South African startups and strengthening of its existing businesses was the highest in 2018. According to the company, the fund “aims to fund and support South African technology startups seeking to address big societal needs”. 70% of that is aimed at the development of its existing technology businesses, including OLX, Takealot, and Mr D Food, which might include acquisitions to ensure the said company strengthen the market positions for the above businesses. While the remainder of the fund goes towards Naspers Foundry - the majority of those investments is focused on black-owned South African startups.
There was a total of 60 limited partners that invested in funds focused on early-stage and technology companies across Africa. Though, the majority of these were development finance institution owned by governments like CDC Group, FMO and Proparco.
European Investment Bank was the most active limited partners on the continent participating in investments into five (5) funds: Partech Africa Fund managed by Partech Ventures ($70M), Novastar II managed by Novastar Ventures ($72.5M), Tide Africa Fund managed by TLcom Capital ($40M), Sawari Ventures North Africa Fund I managed by Sawari Ventures ($35M) and Africa Tech Ventures ($10M).
However, the African Development Bank was also among the notably active limited partners. The bank invested in a total of four (4) funds. The bank invested in a total of four (4) funds: Rwanda National Research and Innovation Fund ($30M), Africa Tech Ventures ($7.5M), Tide Africa Fund (managed by TLcom Capital Partners ($40M as a participant), Partech Africa Fund ($7M).
Last year, the Board of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved the Bank’s Policy on Non-sovereign Operations (NSO), freeing them to make direct investments into non-state backed funds and ventures. According to AfDB, “the document provides the framework within which the Bank through its private sector lending window may provide financing or investment without sovereign guarantees to private and public entities that meet specific eligibility requirements on non-concessional terms”. In the end, three (3) of the funds that they invested in went to non-sovereign backed funds.
Norfund, with support from IFU, Arsenault Family Foundation and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also launched a $10 million fund to focus on Somalia. Called The Nordic Horn of Africa Opportunities Fund, its primary investment instrument is set to be the Sharia-compliant “Murabaha” and the average deal size of $250,000.
There were only two state-owned funds that were launched last year. These were; Rwanda Innovation Fund - which received a $30 million loan from the AfDB - as well as South Africa's $140 million (R2B) Project Development Partnership Fund. The latter was established in partnership between the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), an entity of the Department of Labour.
France, through the French Development Agency (AFD), launched a $76 million Africa Startup Fund in May last year. Emmanuel Macron, the French President pointed out that the fund is "dedicated to providing access to small ticket funding for African startups, as part of the unveiling of a Digital Africa initiative". Proparco, a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focused on private sector development, was appointed the fund manager. Though, a large chunk of the fund will be disbursed in form Proparco taking equity stakes and becoming a limited partner in VC funds. That is why Proparco appears as both a fund and a limited partner on the infographic.
Please note that we use the words raised and committed interchangeably to mean the same thing. We also took also investors in the funds as limited partners. In case you raised a fund focused on either early stage or technology companies across Africa and it is not included here, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.