Japanese firm Kepple Africa Ventures, the most active VC company in the African tech space in 2020, is having an even stronger 2021, having backed 22 startups in the first seven months of the year.
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 December the company invested in 36 African tech startups in 2020, making it the most active firm on the continent in terms of numbers of startups backed, and it has followed that up with a further 22 investments in the first seven months of 2021.
These investments saw Kepple take its total portfolio size to 92 companies across 11 markets. Most of the deals saw it co-invest with other investors, with some of those deals public and others waiting to be announced. Disrupt Africa will keep you in the loop!
Seven of Kepple’s 2021 investments are from Nigeria, including fintech startups TeamApt, Buycoins and Bitnob, as well as e-commerce fulfilment platform Sendbox, mobility platform Moove Africa, sports news and content studio ATHLST, and Sudo, an API platform that enables developers to issue physical and virtual debit and credit cards.
Egypt accounts for a further five, two of which are fintech startups – NowPay and MoneyHash. The other three are waste collection platform Taggaddod, browser-based shopping service Wasla Browser, and Minly, which helps celebrities connect with their fans.
Data collaboration startup Omnisient and fintech platform FloatPays represent South Africa, while logistics startup Paps and fintech startup CoinAfrique are from Senegal. Also backed by Kepple so far in 2021 are Kenyan Wi-Fi service Mawingu Networks, Kenyan fintech startup WapiPay, Ivory Coast-based e-commerce platform Afrikrea, Chinese content service Transsnet, remote team collaboration tool PingPong, and fintech startup PawaPay (UK)
Yamawaki told Disrupt Africa last year 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, and the TeamApt round it has co-invested in this year.