“I have never experienced as much interest in Africa from the external investment community as we are witnessing at present.”
Anton Gaylard is acting on that interest. He is chief operating officer (COO) of Crossfin, the technological investment firm with a focus on fintech startups formed in June after South Africa-based private equity and venture capital firm Capital Eye signed a strategic investment partnership with the Multiply Group.
Capital Eye manages a portfolio of investments spread primarily across Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and Jersey. African investments include wiGroup, Emerge Mobile and Indaba Mobile. Gaylard, who has worked in a series of executive roles in South Africa, says Crossfin will be a larger platform for Capital Eye to invest into.
“We had grouped our portfolio of assets into three separate asset classes: software and solutions, supply chain, and fintech,” he said.
“During the capital raise it became evident that we had the most investment interest to back the fintech assets, and as a result incorporated Crossfin, transferred Capital Eye’s equity interests in our fintech assets into Crossfin for a majority stake in the business, and raised additional funding from The Multiply Group into Crossfin, which we now have available to assist in executing against our vision to become the largest fintech business in Africa by 2022.”
Thus far, the new fund has financed the acquisition of the South African subsidiary of the Edenred Group into Innervation Value Added Services (Pty) Ltd, a portfolio asset, while it is currently in the process of facilitating a merger between one of its other portfolio assets and a competitor to create an enlarged business in their market sector.
Gaylard plans to move even faster over the course of the year.
“We are looking to close two more potential acquisitions from our existing pipeline of deal flow and back possibly two fintech startups through our VC vehicle, Blue Garnet Investments,” he said.
Crossfin is focused on South Africa as well as the rest of the continent, while it is also looking at other emerging markets. Gaylard said startups in these markets face a number of problems.
“Funding is a big factor, followed closely by good mentors and powerful networks and ecosystems to lean on and get support from,” he said.
Crossfin will seek to address all these issues, with Gaylard saying he sees plenty of opportunities in the African tech space.
“There is a lot of activity and passion, and this, coupled with the need to find solutions to real problems that are not prevalent in ‘first world markets’, makes it an exciting space at present,” he said.