Meet the Investor: Pule Taukobong, CRE Venture Capital

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It has been a groundbreaking month for Pule Taukobong’s CRE Venture Capital.

The VC firm was the lead investor in the latest round for pan-African coding school Andela, which secured US$40 million in Series C funding in a landmark round that takes the startup’s total venture funding to over US$80 million.

CRE Venture Capital led the round, which also featured the likes of DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures and TLcom Capital, with Taukobong saying the investment signalled the firm deepening its pre-existing interest in Andela.

“CRE Venture Capital has had an ongoing relationship with Andela for over three years, having contributed to all their previous investment rounds, from their very first seed round to their Series B round in 2016. We are proud to be a continuing part of this story by leading on this Series C round of investment,” he said.

Taukobong, however, has been part of the story of the African tech startup scene for quite some time. He and his partner Pardon Makumbe are well-versed in investments, with extensive backgrounds that have helped forge global relationships not only in Africa, but also in America, Asia and Europe.

Taukobong headed up Africa Angels Network before co-founding CRE Venture Capital, and also previously held investment roles at Investec in Johannesburg, Cape Town and New York. Makumbe was previously a principal at EL Rothschild in New York and London.

Taukobong told Disrupt Africa how CRE Venture Capital came about.

“We wanted to focus on the African market and create a pure-play pan-African VC that could support some of our most innovative tech entrepreneurs,” he said. “CRE Venture Capital’s vision has always been about discovering early-stage category-defining tech-driven companies in Sub-Saharan Africa; and providing an accessible venture capital fund for these startups.”

Since it was established four and a half years ago, the company has worked with some of the best-known startups from across the continent, including the likes of Flutterwave, Yoco, SweepSouth, Asoko Insight and Rensource, with Taukobong saying CRE brings the full arsenal of its capital, global relationships and experience to help position these companies for success.

“As our portfolio has grown, we have co-invested alongside some of the world’s leading global tech companies and investors including Google Ventures, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Y Combinator, Tencent and Spark Capital,” he said.

CRE is backed by global high net worth individuals and family offices, and is passionate about partnering with businesses whose products provide viable solutions to problems being faced by the target markets that they are addressing.

“We believe that said products should offer meaningful solutions on a local and global level. When we signify interest in a company, we would most likely consider partnering when they demonstrate a clear long-term vision, focus and dedication to their mission,” Taukobong said.

The majority of startups CRE has invested in so far happen to be in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, though Taukobong says it does look further afield.

“These three countries combined make up 54 per cent of economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 283 million people and a combined GDP of US$857 billion,” he said.

“We are truly pan-African, so whilst the vast majority of our portfolio hails from these countries, we always consider opportunities in other countries on the continent.”

He said there is an abundance of local tech talent on the continent, and anyone following the future of technology seriously can see that Africa is steadily becoming a force to be reckoned with on the global tech scene.

“We’re aware that investment and funding in the sector is growing, as has the formation of more VCs in the Sub-Saharan region to support this growth. There’ve been major developments in hubs and incubators with the likes of CcHub, iHub and MEST, for example,” said Taukobong.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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