Top 5 venture capital firms targeting Africa

Start-ups continue to mushroom across Africa’s fertile business and ICT landscape. Few of these would be in a position to move past the initial startup phase were it not for the involvement of venture capitalists. But, this is very much a mutually-beneficial situation – VCs want to partner with companies that have the capacity to ensure a return on investment, whilst start-ups need the capital and support that this private investment can offer.

Investment is strong in Africa, with renewed focus by Venture Capitalists to help startups. (Image: Flickr/ Fanch the System)

We have selected a number of established, home-grown VC firms and combined these with those from abroad that are eager to enter the African space and take advantage of high-growth areas, including ICT and telecommunications.

These firms have been sourced according to specific criteria including: the length of time they have been in the market, the extent to which they focus on ICT,  the size/ volume of investment and the number and profile of successful startup companies assisted or part of their portfolios.

1. Investment AB Kinnevik

Based in Sweden, this firm was founded in 1936 and includes ICT as part of its portfolio. The company has a 7% total investment in Africa (which, according to the company’s website, is more than its North American and Asia investment combined). The company has holdings in Millicom – operating within 13 emerging markets including in Africa, and Tele2. In total it covers 78.1 million mobile subscribers across 24 countries. Among its African-based start up investments is Iroko Partners, a Nigerian digital media and entertainment company.


2. Sawari Ventures

Global venture capital firm focused on the Middle-East & North Africa region. Focused on early and growth-stage investing within tech media, telecoms, eCommerce and financial services. The company has a specific interest in Arabic Web content and applications, mobile content and applications, as well as Software-as-a-Service and converged services. According to the company’s website, it typically invests $250 – $1million initially, but expects to invest between $2million and $5million over the lifetime of a company invested in. Included in its portfolio are a number of companies, including Circle Tie (multi-platform location based mobile social network for Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as Vimov, producer of mobile platform solutions – including iSimulate.

3. Matamba Anonaka Technology Holdings (MATHS)

Described as “the first technology focused venture capital company in Zimbabwe”, Matamba Anonaka Technology Holdings was established in 2010 and is focused on the country’s technology sector. Its investment portfolio incorporates Starfish Mobile Zimbabwe, a provider of mobile content services, as well as ZimTowers (Pty) Ltd., an independent tower company established to construct and rent multiple telecoms infrastructure. Geoffrey Goss is the company’s CEO. Ideally the company invests a minumum of 35% ownership.

4. Adlevo Capital 

A Mauritius-based private equity fund manager. Among its clients is Pagatech Ltd., an established provider of mobile money transfer services in Nigeria and InterSwitch Limited, a Nigeria-based provider of electronic transaction switching and payment processing service in West Africa. Added to the list is Rancard Solutions, a software company focused on the mobile market and mobile transactions across Africa. Yemi Lalude is the Managing Partner. According to the company’s website, prior to joining Adlevo Capital, Lalude was a Principal at GGV Capital, a Silicon Valley-based expansion stage tech venture capital company.

5.  Intel Capital

Intel Corporation’s global investment arm recently announced a tech co-investment initiative with Adlevo Capital Managers into Ghana-based Rancard Solutions.  This is the 52nd country the company has invested in and the second in Africa. In June 2011 the investment division made public its investment in Altech Technologies Limited.  Intel Capital’s leadership has confirmed focus on applications and services tailored to add value to the Africa market.

Chris Tredger, Online Editor


  1. Invested Development is another one for this list, focusing on mobile tech and alternative energy in Africa, as well as other global emerging markets.

    Also, Savannah Fund, Grassroots Business Fund.

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