Venture capital is increasingly arriving on Africa’s shores, though a funding gap undoubtedly remains for many of the continent’s startups. 2014 saw a marked increase in investment, and 2015 looks set to be even better, with a number of new entrants to the VC market in Africa and existing players upping their games.
Disrupt Africa reported earlier this month Europe’s largest accelerator Startupbootcamp was fundraising in order to launch programmes in the South African cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town next year.
Founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2010, Startupbootcamp has expanded to become Europe’s largest accelerator and one of the three largest in the world, typically investing US$19,000 in each startup taking part in its programmes.
2. Silvertree Capital
Very active following its launch in 2013, South African VC firm Silvertree Capital had a relatively quiet 2014 as it focused on its existing portfolio. However, this looks set to change in 2015, with the company planning more investments and targeting expansion to Kenya. Founding partner Paul Cook told Disrupt Africa Silvertree was looking to raise more funding and make one or two investments in the first quarter of 2015, with Nairobi-based startups particularly attractive.
OK, so Safaricom isn’t a VC exactly. But it did in November launch a VC fund, aimed at supporting mobile ICT startups in Kenya. The Safaricom Spark Venture Fund will offer equity investments and other debt instruments for values of between US$75,000 and US$250,000, and has been launched for an initial two year period. It will make its first investments in 2015, giving a much-needed boost to VC in the East African country.
Formed earlier this year, South African startup accelerator programme Sw7 is a nine-week, part-time mentor-led programme for technology businesses which has run programmes in both Johannesburg and Cape Town with the support of the Microsoft BizSpark initiative. Thus far Sw7 has not invested in any of its startups nor taken any equity in return for its services, but co-founder Keith Jones told Disrupt Africa Sw7 was looking to add more key sponsors next year and raise a fund.
More of a “will they, won’t they?” inclusion than a VC definitely looking to invest in African startups next year. 88mph has run a total of four accelerators in Nairobi and Cape Town since 2012, but has since the middle of this year been focused on Lagos, having partnered L5Lab to launch the 440.ng accelerator programme. It is unlikely 88mph is in a rush to invest in Kenyan startups again, but the word is managing director (MD) Kresten Buch will return to Cape Town early in 2015 to run a smaller programme than usual. It is yet to be officially announced what one of the major players from the last two years has planned next year.