Tech founders launch a fund to find Africa’s next ‘unicorns’

Dozens of tech executives, including the founders of Klarna, Skype, Delivery Hero and Flutterwave, have started a $ 200 million venture capital fund. USD, which aims to find the next 1 billion. USD-plus companies in Africa.

Niklas Adalberth, co-founder of Klarna, told the Financial Times that Africa was in a similar situation to Sweden in 2005, the year fintech was founded, where it was possible to get start-up capital for start-ups, but there was little or no growth. capital available to develop them into potential ‘unicorns’ – companies worth more than 1 billion. USD.

The fund, started by the Norrsken Foundation set up by Adalberth, ultimately aims to raise up to $ 2 billion. by inviting existing venture capital firms like Sequoia to co-invest, and announcing an initial $ 110m close on Monday.

It is in talks with its potential initial investments and has 400 companies on its radar, mostly in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The Klarna co-founder said that start-ups in Sweden before 2005 were satisfied with targeting valuations of $ 10 million, until Niklas Zennström, one of the supporters of the Norrsken22 foundation, sold Skype for $ 2.6 billion.

“Why is the boot system [in Africa] not create as many unicorns as e.g. here in Sweden? This is because growth capital is non-existent. . . We want to enable the next unicorns to get out of Africa. If these unicorns can be the same role model that Zennström was for me, it can be a game-changer, ”he added.

Thirty unicorn founders including Adalberth, Zennström, Olugbenga Agboola of Nigerian fintech unicorn Flutterwave, Carl Manneh of Minecraft developer Mojang, Jacob de Geer of Zettle, Niklas Östberg of Delivery Hero and Sebastian Knutsson of Candy Crush developer King will put $ 65 mio. into the new fund, which will have offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi.

The For-Profit Fund looks at “where we find the greatest impact” as well as the best economic returns and will concentrate on sectors such as fintech and healthcare technology where it is possible to jump from old technologies, Adalberth said.

Hans Otterling, partner in venture capital firm Northzone, which also backs the fund, said: “We want to show the world how lucrative it is to invest in Africa. In 2005, venture capital was almost non-existent in Sweden, now almost everyone is here.”

He added: “These are not the white guys coming to Africa. We want to help the best African entrepreneurs… We want to expand the network that the rest of the world has access to, but Africa does not.”

The investment team will be led by Natalie Kolbe, former global head of private equity at Actis in South Africa, her colleague Ngetha Waithaka in Kenya and Lexi Novitske, co-founder of Acuity Venture Partners in Nigeria.

It will have an advisory committee that includes Nonkululeko Nyembezi, chairman of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Arnold Ekpe, former CEO of Ecobank; Phuthuma Nhleko, former CEO of telecommunications operator MTN; and Shingai Mutasa, founder of the Masawara investment group.

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