Savannah Fund, a pan-African venture capital firm based in Mauritius, has announced a US$25 million fund as it looks to back more early-stage startups in Africa.
Since 2012, Savannah Fund — led by Mbwana Alliy and Paul Bragiel — has supported more than 30 startups.
Some of the well-known investments include South Africa’s FlexClub, Sendy from Kenya-a logistics firm, and Lidya, a Nigerian fintech firm.
Origins of Savannah fund
Savannah Fund was initially an accelerator program in Kenya before becoming a VC.
Startups that got accepted into this program were in cohorts for three months and received funding of up to $30,000.
In 2016, Savannah moved on to become a venture capitalist, with a focus on seed and Series A stages,
providing funds of between $25,000 and $500,000.
The Venture Capitalist has secured a first close led by International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Women’s Finance Initiative (WeFi). U.S. investor Tim Draper with his VC fund, Draper Associates and Visa Forsten with the co-founder of Tencent-owned Supercell as other notable investors.
Alliy said Savannah has invested in seven startups with the first close. It raised funds from some angel investors and also high-networth people.
Savannah has backed startups in fintech, edtech, logistics and e-commerce, health tech and firms dealing with agricultural technology.
These investments include South African FlexClub, Ethiopian Orbit Health and Kenyan Safigen, Moringa School and Ando Foods.
Savannah has a presence in Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, but its core markets remain Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
It is big on startups that can scale across regions in Africa, including Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda in East Africa, and Ivory Coast and Ghana in West Africa.
Aerobotics has since expanded to the U.S, with Sendy moving to the East African market while FlexClub has spread to Mexico- South America.
Savannah VC has doubled its ticket size to between $50,000 and $1 Million.
The fund plans to invest as low as $50,000 at the pre-seed, but typical first check sizes will be between $150,000 to 250,000.
Follow up rounds that will likely involve larger amounts will depend on the firm’s position as a lead investor or not.
In 2020, Savannah Fund’s portfolio raised $118 million across Series A, B and C, with some operating in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.
With this new fund, Alliy said the firm is looking to perform better this year and increase its portfolio from 30 to 50 in the foreseeable future.
Lead investor IFC confirmed that the World Bank Group member invested $3 million while WeFi cut a $500,000 check for the fund.
“Early-stage funding is vital to enable more of Africa’s emerging and growing tech founders to grow their business and fuel the transformation of Africa’s internet economy.
By partnering with Savannah Fund, we can help more entrepreneurs to access funding,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC regional director for Southern Africa and Nigeria.