Savannah Fund to invest $25m in African startups

The Savannah Fund, headquartered in Kenya, has announced the launch of a US$25 million fund to invest in early-stage startups across Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on assisting women entrepreneurs and disruptive businesses in high-growth industries.

Savannah Fund, led by Mbwana Alliy and Paul Bragiel, was one of the first Sub-Saharan Africa-focused tech venture capital companies, launching its first accelerator program in Kenya in 2012. It switched entirely to seed and Series A investments in 2016, and has since invested in 31 businesses across seven African countries.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, spearheaded its second fund, which closed at US$25 million and spent US$3 million, whereas the Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) contributed US$500,000. Other notable investors include Tim Draper of Draper Associates and Visa Forsten, co-founder of Supercell. UMA, a venture studio based in Senegal, also took part.

The fund will concentrate on seed to Series A investments in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, with an eye toward expanding to emerging hubs such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. Fintech, edtech, logistics, e-commerce, SaaS, e-health, agritech, and bottom-of-the-pyramid innovation are also important investment sectors.

Alliy and Bragiel warehoused seven startups into this newest fund’s portfolio, including Aerobotics from South Africa, Moringa School from Kenya, and FlexClub from South Africa. It recently sponsored pre-seed rounds for Ethiopia’s Orbit Health and Kenya’s Ando Foods cloud cooking corporation.

Alliy said, “Savannah Fund II will continue its long-term mission of partnering with forward-thinking entrepreneurs to create businesses that will scale across Africa.”

“We’re particularly enthusiastic about startups with the potential to expand beyond Africa and into Silicon Valley, as well as developing markets such as Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America,” said Bragiel.

Kevin Njiraini, IFC regional director for Southern Africa and Nigeria said, “Early-stage funding is critical for more of Africa’s emerging and rising tech founders to expand their businesses and fuel the Internet economy’s transformation. We will help more entrepreneurs access funds by partnering with Savannah Fund.”