Japanese VC firm Kepple backs 16 more African tech startups to take 2020 total to 36

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Japanese company Kepple Africa Ventures has invested in a further 16 African tech startups since May to take its total for the year to 36, and its portfolio size to 66 companies in all.

Founded by Ryosuke Yamawaki and Takahiro Kanzaki in December 2018, Kepple Africa Ventures has offices in Nairobi and Lagos and makes seed investments of between US$50,000 and US$150,000, averaging US$100,000, in early-stage tech startups on the continent.

Disrupt Africa reported in May the company had invested in 50 African tech startups, having made 21 investments in the first half of 2020, and it has now added to that with 16 further investments. The latest additions mean its portfolio now includes 66 startups in total.

Seven of the new additions are from Nigeria, namely financial data API Pngme, health insurance startup Curacel, auto-tech company Autochek, prop-tech startup MyAwayHome, banking platform Riby, energy companies Beacon Power Services and Shyft.

Kenya is represented by provider of smart technology for clean cooking PayGo Energy, customer service platform Ongair, and construction marketplace iBuild, while two of the companies are Tunisian – smart manual developer Onboard and energy company Wattnow.

The list is completed by South African ed-tech startup Instill Education, Ivorian fintech Digitech, and two Africa-focused companies based elsewhere – the UK-based form organiser Formplus and the US-based digital designer recruitment company Meaningful Gigs.

It means Kepple has been most active in Nigeria this year, having also invested in credit service Indicina, real estate platform Seso Global, logistics startup MVXchange, educational finance platform Schoolable, e-health startup Lifestores, training and recruitment company Decagon, commodities platform TradeBuza, marketing service Termii, and investtech platform Bamboo.

In Kenya, it has funded vehicle manufacturer Mobius Motors, health platform Connect Afya, connectivity startup Koko Networks, music platform Mdundo, commerce platform Sky.Garden, digital counselling service Wazi, and payments platform Boya this year, as well as Ghanaian digital banking platform Boost and agri-tech startup Complete Farmer.

The rest of its 2020 list is completed by Cameroonian e-health startup Health Lane, the fully distributed but Africa-focused USSD integration platform Hover, and France-based, Tunisia-focused insect-based protein producer NextProtein.

Yamawaki told Disrupt Africa in May that the fund prided itself on being able to move extremely quickly.

“Our due diligence is exceptionally quick compared with other VCs. We’ve completed some of our deals within two weeks from end to end,” he said.

Tech-focused but sector agnostic, and primarily focused on East and West Africa, Kepple is primarily focused on seed-stage opportunities. However, it does sometimes go in on bigger rounds, as in the case of Kenyan logistics company Sendy, whom it helped raise cash from Japanese investors like Yamaha and therefore gained a chance to contribute to its recent bumper investment.

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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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