Sobek Venture Bank has announced it is raising GBP2 million (US$3,075,721), with GBP500,000 (US$768,930) already committed, for the launch of what it claims to be the first venture bank dedicated to serving Africa.
Venture banks are a unique type of bank that offer services primarily to venture capital (VC) backed firms, typically those which do not yet have sufficient cash flow to service a traditional loan.
From the bank’s perspective, in addition to charging traditional interest rates, they typically have warrants for the purchase of stock, by way of compensation for their risk.
“There is a tremendous business case to service loans, deposits, working capital and other day to day services required by fast growing companies that traditional banking business models aren’t built to handle,” Sobek explains.
Sobek Venture Bank intends to respond to the gap in the African market, and roll out financial services to the continent’s ambitious entrepreneurs.
The institution intends to offer a range of core services, such as raising venture debt, growth capital, M&A advisory and modern wealth management services.
So far, the project has backing of GBP500,000 (US$768,930) from a number of angel investors, but Sobek is in the process of raising further funds with the goal of reaching GBP2 million (US$3,075,721).
“We need to design a better entrepreneurial ecosystem and we believe that venture banking is a critical part of that landscape. Our unique approach has been to rethink business banking and seek to build a full stack modern venture bank that puts the entrepreneurs at the centre of our product and processes,” the Sobek Venture Bank team explain.
“The impact of having a bank designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs is powerful beyond measure because we believe that Venture banking could actually reverse the risk averseness of banks that is prevalent throughout the banking sector on the continent.”
According to Sean Obedih, founder of Sobek Venture Bank, the idea for the venture bank stems from the personal experiences of financial services in Africa of the founders; namely, that accessing banking services is a frustrating process, and expensive.
“Our ultimate goal is to make banking for founders suck less,” he says.
The Sobek team is currently in discussions with the Kenyan regulatory authorities with the aim of securing a full banking licence in Kenya – the hope is to launch full services in early 2016. Until then, Sobek Venture Bank will be offering M&A advisory and fundraising advisory services.