Meet the Investor: Karim Hussein, Algebra Ventures

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Four years into its first US$54 million fund, Algebra Ventures has invested in 21 startups, including Trella, elmenus, GoodsMart, and Halan, creating over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Its six most established companies are valued at over US$350 million.

Disrupt Africa reported last month the firm had announced the launch of its US$90 million second fund, which is targeting a first closing in Q3 of 2021 and aims to double down on the success of its first fund.

Karim Hussein is co-managing partner of Algebra Ventures, and a technology veteran with deep experience in product and innovation management and rapid business growth and scaling – particularly in the healthcare and financial services markets. 

Founder and chairman of D-Kimia Diagnostic Solutions, which develops fast, affordable, and accurate medical diagnostics using nano-technology, he has also held a variety of leadership roles across the world, and is now applying his knowledge and experience to funding Egyptian tech startups.

“I have been an entrepreneur for most of my professional life and enjoy supporting and mentoring startups. I came back to Egypt from the US 10 years ago with a goal to help the budding entrepreneurs in my home country. I started with mentoring startups and angel investing,” Hussein told Disrupt Africa.

He then connected with Ziad Mokhtar and Tarek Assaad, who had each been in venture in Egypt for over 10 years.

“They saw a gap in the market in Series A funding and started raising funds for an Egypt first VC fund, back in 2015,” Hussein said.

That fund, AVI, was funded by development institutions, including IFC, and private family offices, and has been a runaway success. 

“We have seen exceptional returns and high growth with many of our portfolio companies, particularly those that address the needs of base of the pyramid in Egypt and provide them with products and services that are only practical with the intelligent use of technology,” said Hussein.

Sector-agnostic, Algebra Ventures does however look for businesses where technology is a central component, which enables efficient scaling of the product or service. 

“We also look for businesses that are able to create a competitive advantage through the technology solutions they provide,” said Hussein.

An Egypt-focused fund, it also has partial allocation for MENA, and East and West Africa, and brings a wealth of experience to the table.

“We have over 10 years of experience in venture capital and the partners themselves have been entrepreneurs and started and exited technology businesses in the past. Algebra provides strategic support, technology and product guidance and most importantly support in attracting and selecting talent,” said Hussein. 

“Algebra has a dedicated in-house team focused on attracting the best talent in the market for all functional groups – technology, marketing, operations and finance.”

He is excited for the future of tech, both in Egypt and across the rest of Africa.

“The continent has a young and growing population and many challenges. With those challenges come significant opportunities to build exciting new businesses that address these challenges. We believe the opportunities are endless and the population is young, driven, and tech savvy, making the continent a perfect environment for highly successful tech endeavours,” Hussein said.

“We have seen significant interest from development institutions and are increasingly finding more interest from private investors as they begin to see the large untapped opportunities on the continent.”

Algebra itself will now focus on raising its second fund, with which we might see it make a few more investments in other African countries.

“We will continue to invest in exceptional entrepreneurs and build up our talent network to support our growing portfolio,” Hussein said. “We are doubling down on Egypt and will explore new markets in East and West Africa.”

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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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