EWB Canada launches $24m Africa-focused tech venture fund

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Non-profit Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada has announced the launch of Hummingbird Impact, a US$24 million fund that will back the most promising and impactful tech ventures across Africa. 

A registered charity that invests in people and ideas to tackle the most crucial causes of poverty and inequality, EWB Canada said Hummingbird Impact would provide early institutional capital and portfolio support to for-profit and impact-driven African tech ventures. 

As a gender-lens impact investor, Hummingbird’s mission is to catalyse and de-risk innovative and highly-scalable solutions to bring systemic change to an undercapitalised and biased system. Hummingbird believes local and female founders are best positioned to unlock opportunities for women and marginalised populations in Africa. 

By filling this critical funding gap, Hummingbird seeks to prove the commercial viability and replicability of this capital and support model in achieving outsized financial and impact returns. 

The venture fund leverages on nearly 10 years of EWB Canada’s experience delivering talent and seed capital to early-stage, for-profit social ventures in Africa, with a track record of 11 investments. 

Hummingbird is raising a US$20 million blended-finance impact fund to invest in scalable, tech-enabled social ventures at the pre-seed, seed and Series A stages. The fund will be complemented by a US$4 million technical assistance facility to accelerate the growth and impact performance of its portfolio. Hummingbird will operate autonomously and is supported by and affiliated with EWB Canada. 

“Thanks to the philanthropic backing of generous individuals, visionary foundations and Global Affairs Canada, EWB Canada has been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of its model in addressing the unique needs of early-stage startups in Africa. We have proven that it works, and it is now time to scale its impact ” said Boris Martin, chief executive officer (CEO) of EWB Canada. 

“Spinning off a business unit has precedence at EWB. We do it when it allows us to reach sustainable impact at scale. In this case, Hummingbird will allow us to catalyse both philanthropic and commercial capital towards a shared mission.”

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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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