SA’s Naspers launches $96m startup investment initiative

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South African technology investment firm Naspers is to refocus its attention on its local market with the launch of Naspers Foundry, a ZAR1.4 billion (US$96 million) fund to help tech entrepreneurs grow their startups.

Naspers is one of the largest technology investors in the world, with operations and investments in more than 120 countries and markets. Most recently it has focused its attentions on non-African markets, while staging a withdrawal of sorts from South Africa’s e-commerce sector, but a new initiative will see its double down on investments at home.

The ZAR1.4 billion (US$96 million) Naspers Foundry initiative was announced at the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference 2018 in Johannesburg last week. It aims to fund and support South African technology startups seeking to address big societal needs.

“Technology innovation is transforming the world. The Naspers Foundry aims to both encourage and back South African entrepreneurs to create businesses which ensure South Africa benefits from this technology innovation,” said Naspers chief executive Bob van Dijk.

“The group started in South Africa and understands the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of South Africans. We believe the best ideas often start locally, with passionate entrepreneurs starting businesses that meet the needs of the communities they know best. And when those needs are universal across the markets we know well, with the right backing, there is the future potential for their businesses to grow beyond their home market.”

Naspers chief financial officer (CFO) Basil Sgourdos said the company brought much more to the table than just funding.

“We understand what it’s like to build and grow tech businesses, and we share that knowledge to help them succeed. We also recognise the important role that local businesses can play in boosting local economies, which in turn boosts the wider South African economy. That’s why a significant portion of the Naspers Foundry investment will be focused on black-owned South African startups,” he said.

Naspers Foundry is part of a wider initiative that will see Naspers invest a total of ZAR4.6 billion (US$316 million) in the South African tech sector over the next three years. Aside from investments in new startups, the company has also allocated ZAR3.2 billion (US$220 million) to the development of its existing technology businesses, which include OLX, Takealot and Mr D Food.

The Naspers Foundry will launch during 2019 and further announcements will be made in due course.

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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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