Sherpa Ventures launches founder-backed $1m pre-seed fund for African startups


VC firm Sherpa Ventures has announced the launch of its debut fund dedicated to investing in pre-seed tech startups in Africa, which is backed by several notable founders and angels and has already made its first investments.

Founded by startup investment veteran Aaron Fu, ex-Uber Africa launcher Alastair Curtis and ex-IROKO executive Nikhil Patel, Sherpa Ventures invests in early-stage tech and tech-enabled startups in Africa. 

Sherpa’s US$1 million Basecamp Fund will invest US$25,000-US$50,000 in startups who are usually raising less than US$500,000, and work with them over six-to-nine months before deciding to follow-on with more substantial capital. 

The Sherpa team, together with a community of investors that includes the likes of Twiga Foods co-founder Grant Brooke and investors Emilian Popa and Lexi Novitske, will work with founders to strengthen and scale their startups by injecting capital and extensive local experience and expertise.

Fu described it as more than a venture fund.

“We are a supportive and collaborative community – a community of capital, expertise and experience who have built and operated some of the strongest startups on the continent and across the world. We can’t wait to partner with extraordinary teams in the region, to realise the power of one generation of startup operators in Africa investing in and sprinting alongside the next generation,” he said.

Sherpa Ventures has already made two investments – in Nigeria’s OnePipe, a unified platform that aggregates APIs for financial services and large institutions, and Ghana’s Boost, an asset light retail distribution and working capital platform focused on MSMEs.

Mike Quinn, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Boost, which is launching in Ghana and South Africa, said Sherpa had been one of the first entities to believe in the startup and back it when it was nothing. 

“They brought other investors to the table, and have been helping us design country entry strategies and develop a stronger hiring framework,” he said.

Curtis said companies like Boost and OnePipe were building scalable but grounded businesses, and also catalysing sustainable growth of businesses in their ecosystems.

“These audacious entrepreneurs are driving the next wave of economic inclusion and growth in Africa,” he said.


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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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