Thirty unicorn founders are backing African tech entrepreneurs through Norrsken22, a new US$200 million tech growth fund that will invest in exceptional entrepreneurs building Africa’s new tech giants.
Founded by Niklas Adalberth, one of the founders of Swedish fintech unicorn Klarna, in 2016, Norrsken aims to help entrepreneurs solve the world’s greatest challenges. Its ecosystem consists of Norrsken House, a co-working space for over 350 impact entrepreneurs in Stockholm, the Norrsken Founders Fund, and Norrsken VC.
Disrupt Africa reported in 2019 the foundation had launched operations in Kigali, Rwanda, which it said it planned to use as a base for investing across the East and Central African region, and last year it accepted 11 startups from Africa into the inaugural edition of the Norrsken Impact Accelerator.
It has now partnered Hans Otterling, partner at Northzone, and an investment team led by Natalie Kolbe, previous global head of private equity at Actis in South Africa, Actis colleague Ngetha Waithaka in Kenya, and Lexi Novitske, founder of Acuity Venture Partners, to launch the Norrsken22 Africa Tech Growth Fund. The fund announced its first close today of US$110 million.
The fund is backed by 30 unicorn founders, contributing their entrepreneurial skills and US$65 million in funding. Among them are Olugbenga Agboola, co-founder of Flutterwave; Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype; Jacob de Geer, co-founder of iZettle; Niklas Östberg, co-founder of Delivery Hero; Carl Manneh, co-founder of Mojang; Sebastian Knutsson, co-founder of King; and Willard Ahdritz, founder of Kobalt Music. The fund is also backed by SEB Pension Foundation and family offices, who share the Norrsken22 vision of scalable entrepreneurship as a driver of long-term and sustainable economic growth across Africa.
Norrsken22 will back exceptional businesses and category leaders within fintech, ed-tech, e-health and market-enabling solutions. The fund is dedicated to delivering top quartile returns, and will drive strong, positive impact across Africa. Norrsken Foundation will re-invest its portion of the capital generated by Norrsken22 back into supporting African entrepreneurship, to further promote the growth of the Africa tech ecosystem and a new generation of founders.
“Africa has a population of 1.2 billion, where 60 per cent are below 25 years old. In the next decade, this young, digital-first generation will change not only the future of Africa but of the world,” said Niklas Adalberth, founder of Norrsken Foundation.
“Eyes are turning towards Africa as the next epicentre for digital disruption. Technology is enabling emerging enterprises to leapfrog legacy ways of doing business. Leaders are emerging but a lack of growth capital is holding them back,” said Hans Otterling, Norrsken22 founding partner.
The pan-African investment team, based in the key tech hubs of Africa, have previously backed Africa’s fastest growing unicorns from Fawry to Flutterwave and are focused on helping companies expand regionally and internationally, delivering the support that African founders need when scaling their businesses. The fund is also supported by an advisory council of business leaders from across the continent.