Ventures Platform, the pan-African VC firm championing the next generation of African technology entrepreneurs, has announced the final close of its early-stage and intercontinental fund, at $46 million. Surpassing its initial $40 million target, the oversubscribed fund from one of the continent’s most prolific investors sees new participation from global investors with an array of top-tier commercial banks, corporates, DFIs, global institutional investors and HNIs, including Standard Bank, International Finance Corporation [IFC], British International Investment, A to Z Impact, Proparco with FISEA, AfricaGrow a Fund of Funds backed by BMZ [German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, DEG and Allianz, managed by Allianz Global Investors], and others.
The new fund will see Ventures Platform double down on backing a cohort of companies in Africa and will also allow for follow-on investments for portfolio companies, up to Series A. In a bid to better support the companies it invests in, Ventures Platform has also established an innovative “platform and networks” practice that will provide scalable and world-class post-investment support and value creation to its portfolio companies.
(TOP: Ventures Platform co-founders – from left to right – Dr. Dotun Olowoporoku and Kola Aina).
Since the first close of the fund late last year, the early-stage “discovery” venture capital fund has deployed new capital and follow-on capital into companies across various verticals and regions on the continent, such as Remedial Health, Moni Notto, and Chargel. To further consolidate its pan-African reach, Ventures Platform is actively seeking opportunities in regions such as Kenya, Egypt, and French-speaking West Africa.
In addition to the close of the fund, Ventures Platform has made a series of strategic team additions at partnership and senior management level. The VC firm has added accomplished entrepreneur, investor, and former Principal at pan-African VC firm, Novastar Ventures, Dr. Dotun Olowoporoku, as Managing Partner. Dotun’s addition to the partnership brings expertise and new opportunities across areas such as investor relations, corporate governance, international expansion, M&A, and growth marketing to the Venture Platform fold. Prior to joining Ventures Platform, Dotun Olowoporoku had played key roles as a consultant or board observer in Flutterwave, Turaco, TeamApt, among others. He was, up to recently, the Chief Commercial Officer at TeamApt.
In addition, Ventures Platform has appointed another notable new member to further enhance its expert network as it brings onboard renowned technologist and investor, Desigan Chinniah, as a Venture Partner. Having spent his career as a venture capitalist, serving in leadership and advisory roles across a blue-ribbon range of companies, Chinniah will harness his expertise in product innovation, sales intelligence and developer relations to support Ventures Platform portfolio companies.
Since its launch in 2016, Ventures Platform has leveraged its on-the-ground presence on the continent and expertise in corporate partnerships, talent, growth, regulation and operations to strengthen the venture capital ecosystem in Africa, acting as a key partner and conduit for international funds and stakeholders. The pan-African VC firm has over 60 active investments, including Nomba (formerly Kudi), Reliance HMO, Brass, MarketForce, Mono and Piggyvest to add to the successful exit of Paystack (acquired by Stripe). Whilst focussing on funding market-creating innovations that optimise for non-consumption, Ventures Platform has accrued one of the largest technology start-up portfolios on the continent. Investing from pre-seed stage up to Series A, the fund invests in startups across multiple sectors, ranging from Fintech, Insurtech, Life Science and Health Tech, Edtech and Digital talent accelerators, Enterprise SaaS, Digital Infrastructure Plays, Agritech and Food Security.
Kola Aina, Founder and General Partner at Ventures Platform, stated: “We are honoured to have the breadth of both local and global investors who have bought into our vision and who equally are bringing immense value to our portfolio. This is a crowning close to an eventful year in which we made substantial advancements both in the tactical and the proprietary interventions that catalyze our portfolio companies. Dotun’s hands-on pan-African experience, from working with both start-ups and institutional investors, brings an invaluable perspective that will help with our continued growth. We look forward to helping our portfolio companies maximise their full potential whilst also consolidating our position as a key and dependable business partner for investors in Africa.
“We recognize the tougher macroeconomic climate at present, and whilst we remain cautious in terms of market dynamics and remain grounded in our long-standing belief in proper due diligence and corporate governance, we are also acutely aware that with our investment thesis, which is centred on market-creating innovations that thrive when value-chains and markets are restructured, there continues to be incredible opportunities across the market. As it’s been said, a true test is not how one handles moments of comfort and convenience but rather moments of adversity, and so we are glad to be partnering with often highly experienced, mission-driven founders who are positively impacting the livelihoods of their local communities even in these trying times.”
William Sonneborn, IFC’s Global Director of Disruptive Technologies and Funds, said: “IFC is the largest global development institution focused on boosting private sector investments in emerging markets. Championing tech innovation, digital talent, and connectivity are key to succeeding in our mission. We are also one of the largest tech investors in Africa. Like Ventures Platform, we believe that the power of technology, combined with the scale and reach of entrepreneurship, can help solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time. We are delighted to partner with Ventures Platform to help emerging, talented entrepreneurs scale their innovations across the continent and beyond.”
Babacar Seck, Senior Investment Officer for Venture Capital at PROPARCO, added: “We are thrilled to partner with Ventures Platform in their journey backing early-stage African startups creating new markets and jobs, while accelerating the continent’s digitization. This ground-breaking partnership reflects the deep commitment of Proparco to African entrepreneurship in line with the Choose Africa initiative, and is being funded through FISEA, an investment fund of the Agence Française de Développement, that finances African startups and small-medium enterprises through innovative fund managers.”
Martin Ewald, Lead Portfolio Manager Allianz Global Investors, Impact Investments, also stated: “The investment strategy of AfricaGrow is funding Private Equity and Venture Capital funds domiciled and active in Africa, which is both challenging and very rewarding. In Ventures Platform, we have found an excellent partner generating real impact on the ground by building successful companies utilising their deep experience, network and local expertise. We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation.”
“We feel that start-ups, technology and innovation are central to catalysing Africa’s economic potential. We are particularly excited to be contributing towards building a digital and self-sustaining continent and believe that Ventures Platform is well placed with a great leadership team and a solid investment thesis to help achieve these overarching objectives’ added Akash Maharaj of the Standard Bank Group.
Ventures Platform’s portfolio companies have to-date gone on to raise more than $1 billion in follow-on funding.
Ventures Platform Fund is a discovery fund that invests early in mission-driven founders that are building capital-efficient platforms that democratise prosperity, plug infrastructural gaps, connect underrepresented communities, and improve livelihoods in Africa. The firm provides smart capital and growth support for Africa’s boldest entrepreneurs, investing in pre-seed to Series A startups across several sectors, but is particularly bullish on Financial Services and Insurance, Life Science and Health tech, Edtech and Digital Talent Accelerators, Enterprise SaaS, Digital Infrastructure Plays, Agri-Tech, and Food Security.
Proparco is the private-sector arm of the French Development Agency (AFD). Proparco has been promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development for over 40 years. It provides funding and support to businesses in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Its action focuses on key development sectors, particularly healthcare, education, renewable energy, agribusiness and financial institutions. Proparco’s operations aim to strengthen the private sector’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To this end, Proparco finances companies creating jobs and decent incomes, providing essential goods and services and combating climate change.
Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets, operating in 20 African countries and 5 global financial centres. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, the bank is listed on the Johannesburg and Namibian Stock Exchanges. Standard Bank has a 160-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s. The bank’s strategic position, which enables it to connect Africa to other select emerging markets as well as pools of capital in developed markets, and a balanced portfolio of businesses, provide significant opportunities for growth. The group has over 46,000 employees excluding Liberty, more than 1,143 branches and over 6,600 ATMs on the African continent, which enable it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.
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