Outlierz Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Morocco, is one of the pioneer early-stage VC funds from Francophone Africa dedicated to early stage tech-enabled companies across the continent, and backed by private investors from Silicon Valley, Middle East and Africa.
Since its inception in 2017, the fund started its investment activity in 2018 and made five investments in fast growing tech-enabled companies across five different markets. To make these investments, the team reviewed over 1,000 investment opportunities, engaged in conversations with more than 350 entrepreneurs across the continent, and invested in 5 of the most promising ones.
“We see tremendous opportunities at the intersection of Technology, Africa’s young and fast-growing populations, and the continent economies. Our mission is to back extraordinary founders that leverage technology to transform African traditional economies,” stated Kenza Lahlou, co-founder and Managing Partner at Outlierz Ventures.
The fund invests in tech-enabled companies solving a fundamental problem across key industries in Africa, which include fintech, insurtech, agritech, healthtech and logistics. The fund focuses primarily on the most dynamic African ecosystems, namely, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco, and is starting to explore untapped Francophone and West Africa ecosystems where it plans to play an active role.
Investment tickets range between US $50,000 and US $500,000 in Seed stage (product on the market and first customers) and Pre-Series A companies (revenue, growth and beginning of expansion).
The fund position itself as a bridge between Francophone and Anglophone African market with the objective to help tech companies access markets and scale from South and East Africa into North and West Africa – or the other way around. It does that by leveraging its solid network of private investors as well as its relationships with large Moroccan industry leaders that have a strong presence in Africa.
Below are the five startups with high potential:
- WaystoCap (Morocco), Africa focused B2B marketplace that helps SMEs import and export products securely and reliably, using technology to structure the value chain of international trade in Africa. After graduating from YCombinator, WaystoCap raised US $3 million in Seed and grew from 6 to 33 employees in less than two years with headquarters in Morocco and offices in Benin and Burkina Faso.
- Sokowatch (Kenya), is reinventing consumer goods retail value chain in the informal segment across East Africa. The platform enables small shop owners to order products via SMS or mobile app, pay via mobile money and get delivered for free the next day. Sokowatch raised US $2 million from Silicon Valley and Africa investors and is accelerating its African expansion with a solid monthly growth.
- Asoko Insight (UK/Anglophone Africa), is a platform that structures data on private companies and key industries in Africa, considered as the most comprehensive database of African private companies for due diligence and business development. Asoko covers more than 7 markets across the continent.
- TousFacteurs (France), is a B2B last-mile delivery company, based in Paris and co-founded by an African diaspora founder. TousFacteurs addresses the growing logistics needs of merchants and international carriers such as DHL by enabling them to leverage independent cyclists to deliver packages at unbeatable prices and time slots via an optimized tech-enabled platform.
- MaxAB (Egypt), is a B2B ecommerce marketplace that connects food and grocery retailers to suppliers in Egypt’s most underserved geographies, using a tech platform to make on-demand and predictive micro-distribution directly to small shop owners. The company is co-founded by the former General Manager of Careem in Egypt and the former operation officer of Aramex.
Outlierz Ventures was founded by a team of entrepreneurs, investment professionals and Africa experts, driven by a common passion for the continent and a shared vision of building the next success stories and role models Africa needs. The fund was initiated by Kenza Lahlou and Ali Bensouda, as General Partners, with the support of Laila Slassi, founding Partner of Afrique Advisors and Hassan Ba, senior executive on Africa and special advisor to the President of OCP Group, as Venture Partners and members of the Board.
“We are proud to announce our first five investments in promising African tech companies led by talented entrepreneurs across different markets who have the potential to transform the continent’s economies,” said Kenza Lahlou.
“We are excited about the opportunities created by the tech revolution for the African continent, both in terms of economic value creation and in terms of accelerating the continent’s development. Africa is definitely the next frontier to VC investments and we are eager to contribute to proving it,” explained Ali Bensouda, co-founder and General Partner at Outlierz Ventures.
Outlierz Ventures is backed by leading US and African private investors, including Michael Seibel, CEO of YCombinator, the world most respected early-stage investment firm based in Silicon Valley behind the success of Airbnb and Dropbox, 500 startups, considered as the most active venture capital fund in the world, as well as Hicham Oudghiri, co-founder and CEO of Enigma, successful entrepreneur from the African diaspora in the big data space based in New York, and Joel Sibrac, former President of the BMCI bank in Morocco, and Bank of the West in San Francisco, part of BNP Paribas Group.
Beyond capital, Outlierz Ventures adds value to entrepreneurs by leveraging its network to facilitate access to the market, especially in fragmented Francophone Africa, and build collaborations with leading Moroccan large companies and industry leaders with a strong presence on the African continent.
“Market access is key for startups. Morocco has a role to play on the continent to facilitate access to the Francophone African market through our leading groups in their respective key sector. As investors, we play this role of bridge between the large companies and the most promising African startups that seek to expand in other African markets, particularly on this part of the continent,” concluded Kenza Lahlou.