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  • Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund to invest tickets of €3m-€15m in African startups

    The recently launched Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund will invest tickets of between €3m and €15m or the equivalent in local currency, Cathay Innovation co-founder Denis Barrier has said.

    The fund, which was launched earlier this month, is managed by Tunis-based investment and financial services company AfricInvest and Cathay Innovation, the venture capital (VC) fund of Paris-based French-Chinese private equity firm Cathay Capital.

    In a joint statement last Wednesday (10 April), the two firms said the fund — which is projected to be €150-million — will contribute to the development and scaling up of innovative companies that demonstrate strong growth in Africa, while being open to international markets.

    The Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund expects to invest in 15 to 20 companies within the next three years

    In addition, the Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund team will provide selected companies with high value-added support by mobilising its multidisciplinary expertise and networks within the various ecosystems in order to facilitate partnerships and accelerate their geographical expansion, with the aim of building up leaders in their respective sectors of activity.

    Barrier told Ventureburn in an email on Monday (15 April) that the fund will be accessible to successful startups from any sector, but will have a specific focus on fintech, logistics, artificial intelligence, agritech and edtech startups.

    “We anticipate to invest tickets between three and 15 million euros, or the equivalent in local currency,” Barrier said.

    The fund’s first investment, he pointed out, is likely to take place some time this year, along with a first closing of the fund. “We expect to invest in 15 to 20 companies within the next three years,” he said.

    Barrier explained that the fund will be able to invest in any country on the continent, as it will specifically rely on AfricInvest’s strong networks and offices in Tunis, Lagos, Abidjan, Nairobi, Casablanca, Algiers, Cairo, Port Louis, Dubai, and soon Johannesburg.

    Startups looking to tap the fund, Barrier said, can apply for investment, while the Cathay Africinvest Innovation Fund will also rely on AfricInvest’s extended network to source deals across the continent.

    Commenting in an earlier statement, AfricInvest co-founder and managing partner Aziz Mebarek (pictured above, right) said his firm is excited about the combination of experience, expertise and networks that will be delivered through the partnership.

    “Our combined objective is to provide support to a new generation of African companies in cutting-edge fields, with the ambition to grow them regionally and globally,” said Mebarek.

    Cathay Innovation co-founder and chairman Mingpo Cai (pictured above, left), commenting in the same statement, said the partnership is based on shared vision and values, as well as what he described as ambitious objective in terms of impact and return on investment.

    “This Fund will also provide Cathay Innovation’s portfolio companies with access to fast-growing African markets. We are convinced that this partnership will contribute to changing the financing and development of innovation in Africa,” added Cai.

    Featured image, left to right: Cathay innovation co-founder and chairman Mingpo Cai and AfricInvest co-founder and managing partner Aziz Mebarek (CathayCapital via Twitter)

    The post Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund to invest tickets of €3m-€15m in African startups appeared first on Ventureburn.

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  • Dakar Network Angels looking to make four investments per year with investment tickets of $20k to $100k

    Dakar Network Angels (DNA), a francophone Africa focused angel investment group which launched last month will make four investments each year, with investment tickets of between $20 000 and $100 000 says founder Marième Diop.

    Diop (pictured above) told Ventureburn in an email last Saturday (13 April) that the sector agnostic group currently has capacity to invest up to $320 000 this year.

    DNA is actively seeking investment opportunities in tech companies that are less than five years old and are solving real problems, have significant market opportunities in francophone Africa, and an ability to expand to at least two other countries.

    To become a member of DNA individuals have to commit to investing a minimum of $10 000 a year, while corporates will have to commit $30 000

    In addition to this DNA wants to back founders who work on the product full time. “We will take up to 10% ownership depending on the terms and conditions negotiated with startups and we will not seek to take a board seat,” explained Diop.

    The angel investment group — which is targeting one investment per quarter — last month announced it had invested $25 000 in Ivorian cleantech startup Coliba.

    Diop said DNA had receive good quality applications for its first cohort which had made it difficult for its members to choose which company to back.

    She explained that after a selective process DNA’s members voted for Coliba as it is a social enterprise that is leveraging tech to solve two major pain points in Africa — big amounts of uncollected waste and the formalisation of the informal waste collectors industry.

    Members distributed across four continents

    Diop said DNA currently has 31 members distributed across the US, Africa, Europe and Asia. The group’s first members include Felix Weyerstahl, Tayo Akinyemi, Mohamed Ndiaye and Fabrice Nze Bekale.

    She explained that to become a member, individuals will have to commit to investing a minimum of $10 000 every year, while corporates will have to commit $30 000.

    “Ours members are either investment professionals or industry experts who are passionate about entrepreneurship in Africa and that are willing to invest their money, time, experience and network to enable promising African entrepreneurs to grow,” she said.

    DNA members, she pointed out, have hands-on involvement in the group’s investment decision making and monitoring of investees.

    Diop said all investment opportunities will be subject to rigorous selection by  DNA members and will be carefully qualified, studied and evaluated. “Each member will decide to invest or not in a company and we will only invest if we reach our quorum,” she added.

    The group will mainly scout and source its own deals leveraging its network. Diop said DNA will soon invite startups to apply for its second cohort on its website.

    DNA is also working with several partners including startup funding platform VC4A. In addition, Diop added that the group is currently in talks with many potential partners from across the globe.

    More than just investments

    Francophone Africa entrepreneurs, Diop said, in contrast to their anglophone counterparts lack models to look up to, funding opportunities to tap into,  as well as connections with the rest of Africa and the world to find mentorship opportunities and market access.

    DNA aims to change that. “With the DNA, we want to leverage our network to bring business support resources and services as much as we can to help our investees build a foundation for growth,” said Diop.

    She said once DNA invests in a company, the group will assist founders to get the fundamentals in place to scale quickly, become sustainable and fundable.

    Last month DNA held its first public event, an Investment Forum which took place on 17 March in Dakar. The event saw DNA’s first cohort finalists pitch their solutions to the group’s members.

    In addition African Business Angel Network (ABAN) and DNA advisor conducted a workshop on angel investment at the event.

    ‘Way to give back’

    Diop — who is also a venture capitalist (VC) at Orange Digital Ventures — explained that she is involved with DNA in her personal time. She described her work with the group as “my way to give back to my community”.

    She said the idea behind DNA was birthed six months ago when she reached out to friends to discuss the idea of starting an angel fund for francophone entrepreneurs.

    “I’ve been investing for two years now with a fund based in francophone Africa (Orange Digital Ventures) but haven’t invested in any francophone startups yet. Problem is the lack of investable companies which is common to most francophone countries,” she said.

    Diop pointed out that in 2017,  three anglophone countries — South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria — accounted for 76% of investments in African tech startups, and 78% in 2018.

    She added that out of the total amount invested, francophone Africa — which is comprised of 31 countries, about 57% of Africa — only accounted for 10% of investments in 2017 and 4.5% last year.

    Moreover, she explained, only 12 of the 37 seed funds on the continent target French-speaking countries, with none having invested in a francophone startup to date.

    “So I just realised that if nothing was done, this situation would never change because the lack of local investment funds and formal business angels networks that are able to address the needs of seed stage startups could hinder the rise of digital technology in Africa,” said Diop.

    Featured image: Dakar Network Angels founder and Orange Digital Ventures VC (Bertha Centre via Twitter)

    The post Dakar Network Angels looking to make four investments per year with investment tickets of $20k to $100k appeared first on Ventureburn.

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  • Founders Factory Africa selects five African fintech startups for accelerator, $40k investment

    Corporate-backed accelerator and incubator Founders Factory Africa has selected five African fintech startups for its six-month long acceleration programme and for investments of up to $40 000 each.

    The five are Ugandan media and research firm Digest Africa, Nigerian school financing solution Schoolable, Kenyan lending marketplace LipaLater, Nigerian peer-to-peer leasing platform Eazyhire, Ghanaian retail solutions provider Kudigo.

    Founders Factory Africa launched in Johannesburg last October, in partnership with Standard Bank, with the aim of scaling over 100 startups in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years.

    Founders Factory Africa received over 500 applications for its six-month long acceleration programme

    In an article on Tuesday (16 April), Digest Africa — citing a statement from Founders Factory Africa — received over 500 applications for its programme.

    Founders Factory Africa CEO Roo Rogers said the five represent the best of African leadership and innovation.

    “Our investment and focus on growing pan-African products and market solutions will enable these exceptional entrepreneurs to address the needs of millions of people and deliver scaled financial and impact returns across the continent.

    “Together with our multi-national corporate investors, we are excited to support these businesses on their pathway to scale,” said Rogers.

    Standard Bank executive and head of moonshots Darren Segal said the five startups are “just the start” of an “exciting” journey with Founders Factory Africa.

    “We see huge potential to grow these businesses and create jobs. Through our partnership, there is also a unique opportunity to catalyze the startup culture and early-stage investment into these ventures in Africa,” added Segal

    The accelerator’s programme includes support from a specialist team on product design, tech engineering, data science, and growth marketing. In addition, the five startups will also have access to global capital, talent and knowledge transfer through the accelerator’s network.

    Read moreWe’re no Rocket Internet says Founders Factory Africa head
    Read moreFounders Factory to build 100 tech startups across Africa in next five years

    Featured image: Founders Factory via Twitter

    The post Founders Factory Africa selects five African fintech startups for accelerator, $40k investment appeared first on Ventureburn.

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  • SA Bitcoin wallet, merchant payment startup Centbee raises £1-million from Calvin Ayre in Series-A round

    Johannesburg-based Bitcoin wallet and merchant payment startup Centbee has announced that it has raised £1-million from Ayra Ventures founder Calvin Ayre.

    Centbee was founded in 2017 by co-CEOs Lorien Gamaroff and Angus Brown. Gamaroff is a leading expert in blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies, while Brown — the former CEO of eBucks.com — has 20 years’ experience in payments and banking.

    In a statement today (17 April) Ayre, who also founded digital currency news site CoinGeek, said Centbee has a track record of making Bitcoin easily usable and accessible to everyone, including merchants and consumers.

    Centbee will use the investment for product development, scaling and growth

    “They support the original Bitcoin protocol in the form of Bitcoin SV (BSV), and have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to attract users and we’re proud to support their further growth,” said Ayre.

    The deal was facilitated by blockchain advisory, research and development firm nChain which last year in January took an equity stake in Centbee. The size of that deal was not disclosed.

    nChain Group’s strategic advisory board chair and founding president of the Bitcoin Association Jimmy Nguyen, commenting in the same statement, said Centbee has one of the most user-friendly Bitcoin wallets and merchant payment solution the firm had ever seen.

    “It is built using the original Bitcoin protocol, now alive only in the form of Bitcoin SV, which has a plan for massive blockchain scaling,” said Nguyen. He explained that this enables Centbee to offer low fees and fast transaction speeds.

    Nguyen said nChain will continue to work with Centbee as it sparks greater merchant and consumer adoption of Bitcoin SV in Africa and around the world.

    In addition, nChain will also support the startup with its technical consulting services and access to its vast intellectual property portfolio which it said is aimed at promoting the growth of the BSV blockchain.

    Brown (pictured above, left) pointed out that Centbee has made it easy for customers to buy Bitcoin SV at over 50 000 till point in South Africa. He said the investment will be used for product development, scaling and growth.

    Gamaroff (pictured above, right) said the startup’s development roadmap is “well defined” with payment and remittance products coming to market this year. “We look forward to the next phase in our growth and development,” he said.

    Read more: Why regulating crypto assets will help grow Bitcoin adoption [Opinion]
    Read more: SA bitcoin wallet provider Centbee announces funding from nChain Group
    Read more
    SA startup Centbee launches app to send bitcoin cash to contacts on your phone

    Featured image, left to right: Centbee CEOs Angus Brown and Lorien Gamaroff (Supplied)

    The post SA Bitcoin wallet, merchant payment startup Centbee raises £1-million from Calvin Ayre in Series-A round appeared first on Ventureburn.

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  • Three South African startups among six companies selected to pitch at the Stanford Africa Business Forum

    Three South African startups have been selected to pitch at the Stanford Africa Business Forum which kicks off this Saturday (20 April) in Stanford, California in the US.

    The annual business conference — which is now in its twelfth year and is organised by the Africa Business Club — will this year bring thought leaders from the continent to discuss new approached to driving growth.

    The six companies that will present their solutions at the Stanford Africa Business Forum are ENVision mobile, Nigeria’s ScholarX, Uganda’s MobiPay AgroSys, and South African startups Pineapple, LÜLA and Vollar.

    This year’s conference will be the twelfth edition of the Stanford Africa Business Forum

    Vollar founder and CEO Kyle Ueckermann told Ventureburn on Tuesday (16 April) that to be selected, startups had to be based on the continent, have less than 40 employees and must have made an impact in their communities. In addition, the startups must have raised some funding.

    It’s not clear whether the startups will win any prizes or investment.

    The six will pitch their startups to a panel of judges that includes HSBC Venture Capital managing director Oreoluwa Adeyemi, LoftyInc Capital Management founding director Marsha Wulff, TLcom founding and managing partner Maurizio Caio, Pact Ventures manager of social investment and alternative finance Katherine Fackler, Boston Consulting Group senior advisor Nyimpini Mabunda and Paga CEO and founder Tayo Oviousu.

    Keynote speakers at the conference are McKinsey Africa chairman Acha Leke, Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé, Andela and FlutterWave co-founder Iyin Aboyeji, and True Africa chairman Claude Grunitzky.

    Rwanda’s information and communications technology and innovation Paula Ingabire, Togo’s minister of digital economy and postal affairs Cina Lawson, along with Loon (Google X) head of government relations Anna Prouse and McKinsey associate partner Ammanuel Zegeye will also participate in a fireside chat on tech and its role in shaping Africa’s future.

    Featured image: Stanford Africa Business Forum via Facebook

    The post Three South African startups among six companies selected to pitch at the Stanford Africa Business Forum appeared first on Ventureburn.

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