PRESS RELEASE: The 97Fund announces first cohort of investments

A total of $127,492 has been invested across ten (10) companies. Five (5) companies providing solutions addressing challenges caused by the COVID19 pandemic; four (4) companies targeting the Future of Work; and one (1) company digitising the tourism value chain sector under the Game Changers Initiative. 

Kampala, Uganda 18 September 2020 - The 97Fund has announced the first five investment beneficiaries under The 97 COVID19 Relief Fund. The companies, Bringo Fresh, Famunera, Med X International, Minute5 and Xente are joining The 97Fund portfolio and receiving a total of $52,492 as well as monitoring and venture building support for three months. 

This brings the total number of investments in The 97Fund portfolio to ten (10) including companies that have been funded under previous initiatives The Future of Work (Flip Africa, Marula Agribusiness, ProInterns and Tubayo) and Game Changers initiatives (Tripxio) which together received a total of $75,000.

More on the companies in The 97Fund portfolio;

  • Bringo Fresh ($10,000): an online E-Commerce platform that bridges Ugandan farmers and technology making their fresh produce available online for doorstep delivery. Bringo Fresh has managed to save the wastage of over 12,000 kgs of vegetables, fruits and dairy products.
  • Famunera ($10,000): an Agri-Tech/E-commerce platform that links smallholder farmers to genuine quality affordable farm agricultural inputs and provides support service to buyers of farm produce. Famunera supports over 5000 farmers through their technology and has enabled sales of $15M for their farmer community which is predominantly youth.
  • Flip Africa ($15,000): a freelance marketplace that enables users access skilled freelance talents. The Flip platform offers businesses the agility to hire talent for a specific work task without risk, commitment and overheads of full-time employment. Flip Africa is taking gig work to another level, they have so far matched 78 jobs with over 650 users in their business models and $1000 in revenues.
  • Marula Agribusiness ($15,000): an Agribusiness that transforms waste into high quality livestock feed. Through the waste recycling industry, Marula Agribusiness has managed to clean cities, scale upto 800 outgrower farmers and create 170 jobs so far.
  • Med X International ($10,000): a web-based medical laboratory management information system that automatically retrieves real time medical results. Med X has tested over 100,000 samples with an average of 1000 tests per day at 6 testing laboratories.
  • Minute5 ($7,850): an E-Commerce platform offers an online grocery market place that brings together vendors and customers by providing clients with shopping experience at their fingertips and having the items ordered delivered to their door steps in real time. Minute5 has delivered their services to over 500 customers through working directly with 22 vendors and small scale farmers enabling sales of $10,000 in transactions.
  • ProInterns ($15,000): an E-recruitment platform that connects students and graduates to internships, placements and entry-level opportunities with leading organizations and impactful startups. ProInterns has over 2000 users and has enabled them to connect with over 150 employers available on their platform.
  • Tripxio (15,000): a tourism operator platform that enables small and medium businesses in the tourism sector to digitize their operations, package new and existing offers, create E-commerce websites, accept payments and efficiently run their businesses in this sector. Tripxio has enabled 27 tourism entrepreneurs to maximize their opportunities in the industry and provided job opportunities directly to 8 SMEs as agents.
  • Tubayo ($15,000): a travel marketplace that provides affordable travel adventure experiences with a mission to make travel easy for everyone. Tubayo has made sales of over $50,000 with more than 4500 travel experiences and 320 bookings made in the COVID19 lockdown period.
  • Xente ($14,642): an e-commerce and financial services business. Xente is onboarding micro merchants to sell on their digital platform and to continue trading during and after COVID19 and in the process improve livelihoods and create employment. The Xente platform has over 50,000 customers with a 50% growth rate per month.

The current COVID19 pandemic has caused a slowdown in economic activity as well as a significant rise in the unemployment rate. In Uganda, over 80% of MSMEs have been negatively affected by COVID19 according to the Ortus Africa Capital Business Relief Survey conducted among Micro Small and Medium Enterprises. The effects of COVID19 on sales indicate that majority of the businesses (41%) have completely shut down during this period with the most affected companies fitting to those in ICT & Technology, Manufacturing, Creatives & Entertainment, Professional Services, Wholesale & Retail, Hotel & Leisure, Vocational, Artisan & Crafts, Social Work sectors. Only 8% had experienced a growth in sales and/or revenue during the crisis. These businesses are in the agriculture space for example “Sourcing and delivering genuine quality affordable farm inputs to smallholder farmers in Uganda”, and Education “learning and training platform digitizing education.” These businesses leveraged the use of digital platforms to deliver everyday essential services, giving them an upper hand to grow, without reinventing themselves during the crisis.

According to Kenneth Legesi, Managing Partner at Ortus Africa Capital who manages The 97Fund, “The Fund is intended to support businesses that have the potential to support other businesses and communities in an environment that is otherwise unprecedented. We are very deliberate on this because we expect the companies selected to benefit from The Fund to create an ecosystem that helps other companies and communities to survive the pandemic. Now more than ever, the pandemic has taught us that businesses need to adapt as quickly and as efficiently as possible to find their footing during these unprecedented times of the virus while putting collaboration at the forefront. Ultimately, at The 97Fund, our goal is to grow companies that matter and are centered on solving the biggest industry and community challenges.

The 97Fund was seeded with commitments of $1 Million from The Innovation Village as part of the Next Wave Program in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the Young Africa Works Program. The COVID19 Relief Fund provides support to companies that can offer employment opportunities to youth and women during and after the pandemic with collaborative working, work from home, gig work and digital economy enablers.

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About The 97Fund

The 97Fund, managed by Ortus Africa Capital in partnership with The Innovation Village and supported by Mastercard Foundation under the Young Africa Works Program, is a blended capital early stage fund that invests in high growth early stage companies in Africa. Launched in April 2020, The 97Fund takes an active, hands on approach to help entrepreneurs to increase their chance of success by applying extensive operational knowledge and providing access to capital and funding.

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