Investor Funding in Africa

Goals

To provide an understanding of how startups with a focus on information technology that are operating at the intersection of the sustainable energy and telecommunications industries can be optimally positioned to attract investment.

Early Findings

Top Tech and Solar Investors in Africa

  • The African Angel Business Network (ABAN) is a network of 49 networks operating across 33 African countries. Each network sets its own investment terms.
  • Five of the most active investors in tech in Africa are 500 Startups, Algebra Ventures, Goodwell, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Partech Africa.
  • A sample of investors in Off-Grid Tech in 2019 in Africa include EDF Renewable Energy in Egypt, Energy Access Ventures and Total in Ghana, Mitsubishi Corporation and Bamboo Capital Partners in Kenya, CRE Venture Capital and Persistent Energy Capital in Nigeria, and Inspired Evolution in South Africa. Investors in companies operating in the connectivity vertical in Kenya include Orange, Google, Cathay Innovation, and TCL Group.
  • Africa50, Norfund, and Scatec Solar are among the investors active in the solar vertical in Africa.

Advice for Startups Seeking Funding from a Top Investor

  • Tomi Davies, president of ABAN, advises startups to consider their location, as that will dictate the angel network the startup can access.
  • Mr. Davies advised startups to clearly outline how the investor will get their money back, emphasizing the importance of the product service offering from the startup, the customers that place value on the product service offering, and "the nature of the relationship in terms on channel and price offering."
  • To combat the impact of COVID-19, Mr. Davies noted the importance of "referential integrity," wherein the source of an investor reference is used as a vector to determine feasibility in the absence of being able to personally see and touch the target investments.

Solar Power/Connectivity and ISP Startups in Africa Successfully Accessing Funding

  • BBOXX, African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED), Tizeti, and a recently announced partnership between Engie and OffGridBox in Rwanda are examples of solar providers offering WiFi services.
  • SimpliConnect in South Africa is a self-funded ISP startup in South Africa.

Venture Capital for "Tech" Startups on the African Continent

  • In its 2019 report on venture capital funding for technology on the African continent, Partech stated that funding for connectivity and hardware, included in the B2B & Tech Adoption category, totaled US$52 million. This represents:
  • The same report stated that funding for Off-Grid Tech, which was included in the financial inclusion category, totaled US $247 million. This represents:
  • The report can be accessed via a link on this page of the Partech website.

Summary

  • This initial hour of research was used to determine the availability of information regarding investing in tech and solar startups in Africa. The research sought to determine the top investors in the two verticals, provide information from a top investor regarding what is looked for from startups before making an investment, identify startups providing both solar and WiFi services, along with ISPs, that have successfully accessed funding, and providing an overview of the market for tech investments in Africa.
  • We propose to continue the research to delve further into the frameworks used by investors in Africa to make a decision on tech investments generally, and specifically, the factors that were successful along with the business model adopted by the successful startups identified in the early findings.

Proposed next steps:

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