New research from Crunchbase reveals that the African Venture Capitalist (VC) landscape is truly becoming more African. There has been a recent trend of increasing number of local VCs run by African locals as well, and Nigeria is dominating the figures.
The research prioritized organizational viability and number of investments over fund and round size. As a result, the range in typical investment values across the group was wide, with some offering $25K seed investments, and others doing $1 to $10 million rounds at the series A and B stage.
Crunchbase’s research identified 51 “viable” Africa-focused VC funds globally—defining viable as formally established entities with 7-10 investments or more in African startups, from seed to series stage.
22 (or 43 percent) of these 51 were headquartered in Africa and managed by Africans of which 9 (or 41 percent) were formed since 2016 and 9 are Nigerian.
To highlight how fast this is developing in Nigeria, 4 of the 9 Nigerian VCs were formed within the last year. They include Microtraction, Neon Ventures, Beta Ventures, and CcHub’s Growth Capital fund.
From the group of 51 across the continent, TPG’s Growth Fund led the largest round on the continent in 2018 (so far): $47.5 million to Kenyan fintech startup Cellulant. That amount has only been topped by the $52 million round to South Africa’s Jumo led by Goldman Sachs.
Of the Nigerian VCs EchoVC (20) and Ventures Platform (23) had the highest investment. Outside of Nigeria, Singularity Investments made 18 African startup investments, Ghana’s Golden Palm Investments (17) and Musha Ventures (36).
Rise of Corporate Capitalists
Crunchbase’s research also picked up funding activity amongst corporate organizations on the continent, however Safaricom’s Spark Venture Fund was the only one to make it to the list of 51.
MTN has invested in African startups and Standard Bank added $1 million to Founders Factory’s new African accelerator. Fintech firm Interswitch has been in the acquisition market and established its E-growth Fund to invest in startups.
Africans In Senior Positions
The research also noticed Africans moving into senior positions at VCs located outside of the continent—including the three that raised the most capital over the last 24 months.
Former Nigerian ICT minister Omobola Johnson is a senior partner at TLcom Capital’s $40 million fund. Yemi Lalude is Managing Partner of TPG Growth’s Africa fund, which announced $2 billion in its coffers last year. And at French firm Partech—which raised $70 million for its Africa fund—Tidjane Deme is General Partner.
Before the report of Crunchbase’s research, there have been issues within Africa’s tech ecosystem that haven’t reached universal consensus. Concerns have been expressed about possible outsized influence of external actors in Africa’s tech ecosystem — primarily East Africa — and bias among VC investors toward non-African founders.
The last two years, Partech and media firm Disrupt Africa have done reports on Africa’s annual VC values. Their diverging numbers demonstrate the continued challenges to producing confident stats. Partech’s study tallied 2017 funding to African startups at $560 million, while Disrupt Africa came up with $195 million for the same year.
Cruncbase’s objective is to a comprehensive and accurate representation of Africa’s tech ecosystem. In addition to tracking stats on African funds, it has extended its Venture Program—which allows partners to directly update their Crunchbase data and investments. There are currently 33 African focused Venture Program partners on Crunchbase’s platform.