Seedstars launches $20 million fund to back early-stage African startups

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
Seedstars has had a long history of investing in African startups. Its Seedstars Africa Ventures according to its website has poured over $7 million into the continent…
Seedstars launch Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures with Fondation Botnar, to back early-stage African startups

Global venture capital firm, Seedstars Capital has launched Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures, a $20 million venture capital fund that will invest in early-stage African startups. The fund was launched in partnership with Fondation Botnar, the Swiss philanthropic foundation, the companies said in a joint statement to Technext.

According to the statement, the fund will target “early-stage, purpose-driven companies aiming to improve the well-being of young people in low and middle-income countries across the continent.”

What is Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures?

The Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures’ mandate is to target pre-seed to Series A companies in sectors such as health services, environmental sustainability, local food security, water and sanitation, waste management, digital technologies, quality education, access to employment, financial services, safe transportation, and affordable housing.

Seedstars launch Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures with Fondation Botnar, to back early-stage African startups

The sectors that Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures will focus on underscore its commitment to investing in more sustainable businesses that meet the needs of Africa and other emerging markets. But it is also part of a new moment in African funding that prioritises other sectors that have for long been ignored by VC firms including edtech, waste management and environmental sustainability.

While the fund is available for all early-stage African startups, Seedstars says in its statement that it will have “a strong focus on companies active in, or expanding to Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt.”

“Our partnership with Fondation Botnar will combine our strengths and resources to drive meaningful impact in emerging markets. Together and with the added strength of our co-investor network, we will identify, invest and scale innovative companies with the potential to transform the lives of young people across our key markets.”

Benjamin Langer, Partner at Seedstars Capital

Read also: Seedstars launches program to support women-led startups in Africa with funding, mentorship

Antoine Veyrassat, Venture Philanthropy Lead at Fondation Botnar attributed the company’s involvement to its shared commitment with Seedstars to improve the health and well-being of young people.

“Fondation Botnar is excited to join Seedstars in supporting companies that are making a difference. Our shared commitment to improving the health and well-being of young people aligns strongly with our investment strategy that takes a market-based approach to philanthropy in addition to our other philanthropic funding, especially as rapid urbanization and the increasing number of young people living in cities present both unique challenges and opportunities.”

Seedstars launch Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures with Fondation Botnar, to back early-stage African startups

To oversee the venture capital fund, Cyrine Ben Fadhel will be joining Seedstars as an Investment Manager.

According to the statement, Cyrine Ben Fadhel brings “years of hands-on experience in venture capital, with past roles at Lateral Frontiers Capital and Global Ventures, Cyrine will act as the main point of contact for the mandate, and her knowledge will be instrumental in identifying and scaling innovative companies across the African continent.”

Seedstars’ history of investment

Seedstars has had a long history of investing in African startups. Its Seedstars Africa Ventures according to its website has poured over $7 million into the continent, including investments in Beacon Power Services in Nigeria, Bizao, a fintech startup in Ivory Coast, and Fuzu, an EdTech company in Kenya.

Seedstars Capital is part of Seedstars Group, an accelerator and venture capital firm that has entered more than 30 emerging markets. It also has Seedstars International Ventures, a fund it launched last year in collaboration with Patricia Sosrodjojo and targeting 100 startups in emerging markets.

Last year, it launched ‘Enhancing Women Entrepreneurship in Africa (EWEA)’, a program to support women-led startups in Africa with funding and mentorship.

Seedstars launch Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures with Fondation Botnar, to back early-stage African startups

Already, Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures has started investing, including in Chargel, the Senegal-based logistics technology company which announced a raise of $2.5 million in seed funding in April.

Though Seedstars’ partner for this venture capital fund, Fondation Botnar, is relatively new to the African market, it has been around since 2003, the brainchild of the Swiss billionaire and philanthropist Marcela Botnar. It is one of the largest foundations in Switzerland, holding over 3.8 billion in assets.

Seedstars adds that “together with Fondation Botnar, we intend to stimulate further capital inflow into the continent, with co-investments alongside other like-minded investors.”


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