BY TOM JACKSON
The Kenya-based Savannah Fund has announced a US$25 million fund that will invest in early-stage startups across Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and disruptive companies in high-growth sectors.
Led by Mbwana Alliy and Paul Bragiel, Savannah Fund is one of the earliest Sub-Saharan Africa-focused tech venture capital firms, starting its investment activities in 2012 when it launched its first accelerator programme in Kenya.
In 2016, it transitioned completely to seed and Series A investments, and has to date invested in 31 companies across seven countries on the continent.
Its second fund, which has closed at US$25 million, is led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, which invested US$3 million, while the Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) invested US$500,000. Other notable investors include Tim Draper of Draper Associates and Visa Forsten, co-founder of Supercell. Senegal-based venture studio UMA also participated.
The fund will focus on seed to Series A investments in core markets Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, with an eye on expansion to emerging hubs across Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Ghana. Key investment sectors include fintech, ed-tech, logistics, e-commerce, SaaS, e-health, agri-tech, and innovation at the bottom of the pyramid.
As part of this second fund formation, Alliy and Bragiel warehoused seven startups into this latest fund’s portfolio, including South Africa’s Aerobotics, Kenya’s Moringa School, and South Africa’s FlexClub. More recently, it backed pre-seed rounds for Orbit Health in Ethiopia and cloud kitchen company Ando Foods in Kenya.
“Savannah Fund II will continue its long-term mission to partner with ambitious founders, building startups that will scale across Africa,” said Alliy.
“We’re incredibly bullish on startups that have the potential to scale beyond the continent that can expand into Silicon Valley and emerging markets like South East Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America,” said Bragiel.
“Early-stage funding is vital to enable more of Africa’s emerging and growing tech founders to grow their business and fuel the transformation of Africa’s Internet economy. By partnering with Savannah Fund, we can help more entrepreneurs to access funding,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC regional director for Southern Africa and Nigeria.