5 African Funds Launched this Year you can now Apply for

Updated on 14 August 2018

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Jack Ma, Alibaba founder


2018 has so far been a good year for the launch of funds targeting African entrepreneurs.

We look at some of the biggest that South African entrepreneurs are eligible for. 

1. The Netpreneur Prize

The Netpreneur Prize is the most recent fund on the list to launch. It aims to award US$10 million to 100 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. The fund will focus on small business growth, grassroots innovation and women founders.

Starting in 2019, the Jack Ma Foundation will host an annual pitch competition, with ten finalists selected from across the continent to showcase their talent and business ideas and compete for US$1 Million in prize money. All ten finalists will receive grant funding from the Jack Ma Foundation, as well as access to the Netpreneur community of African business leaders to leverage the community’s shared expertise, best practices and resources.

Jack Ma decided to create the prize after his first trip to Africa in July 2017 when he was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met. While the competition will be open to entrepreneurs in all industries, Ma expects many of the applicants to be founders of businesses that are internet-driven given the open and inclusive impact technology can have on local economies. Applicants must be African nationals leading mission-driven organizations.

How to apply

Applications for the first pitch competition will be open from January 2019 until April 2019, and the finalist pitch competition will be held and broadcast across Africa in the second half of 2019. The program will be offered across the continent through lead continental partner, Nailab, and other regional hub partners.

2. French Development Agency (AFD) Fund

In May this year President Emmanuel Macron of France announced at the VivaTech trade fair in Paris the launch of a new $76 million (€65 million) fund dedicated to providing access to funding for African startups

The fund forms part of the Digital Africa initiative launched by the President on behalf of the country’s development agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

The iniative aims to provide a platform to promote African entrepreneurs, through encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing, providing an online database of resources, hosting events, and facilitating access to funding.

How to apply

Applications for this year’s edition are set to open on 10 September, with entries closing on 19 October. In addition to financial support, winners of the competition will also receive assistance towards accelerating their solutions, and scaling them across Africa.

Further information on the application process is available here.

3. The Tourism Transformation Fund

The Department of Tourism announced in May this year the launch of  a fund to help black-owned enterprises to benefit from South Africa’s growing tourism sector. Securing funding has been identified as a major obstacle to establishing new businesses and to growing existing tourism enterprises.

To address this challenge, the Department of Tourism has collaborated with the National Empowerment Fund to introduce the Tourism Transformation Fund, a dedicated capital investment mechanism that will support black investors and communities to develop and expand tourism related projects.

The Fund aims to drive transformation in the tourism sector directly. It is eventually expected to give rise to a new generation of black-owned youth, women and community based tourism enterprises to take the tourism sector to new heights.

“This fund will help us to put the National Tourism Sector Strategy into action,” said Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.

The grant will reduce funding gaps between the investor’s own contribution and the approved loan/equity contribution by the NEF, and will be capped at a maximum of R5 million for each successful applicant.

How to apply

Applications for funding are open until 31 August 2018. The Department of Tourism is contributing R120 million to the fund over the next three years to be used as grant funding.

The Tourism Transformation Fund will be administered by the NEF on behalf of the Department of Tourism. Applicants should submit their application forms and supporting documents directly to the NEF, who will assess applications thoroughly for their commercial viability.

Information, application forms and guidelines are obtainable on the NEF website at www.nefcorp.co.za and enquiries can be directed to tourism@nefcorp.co.za.

4. Partech Africa Fund

Silicon Valley fund Partech Ventures has announced the launch of its Partech Africa fund, which has secured over €57-million commitments so far making it the first technology fund of such size from a top tier international VC to be exclusively dedicated to the fast-growing tech ecosystem in Africa.

In a press release Partech Ventures said it aims to raise €100-million to invest in early-stage African startups, with the average deal sized expected to range between €500 000 and €5-million. The fund will operate out of Partech Ventures’s new offices in Dakar.

Partech Africa intends to focus on early stage growth funding, providing €0.5 to €5M initial tickets to talented African teams using tech to address large emerging market opportunities. Partech Africa is a generalist tech fund with target industries ranging from Financial Inclusion (Fintech, InsurTech, new distribution models) to online and mobile consumer services (commerce, entertainment, education, digital services), as well as mobility, supply chain services and digitization of the informal economy.

5. DEMO Ventures Fund

Set to launch in October this year, the $100-million fund will invest in startups from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and South Africa.

DEMO Ventures is the investment arm of DEMO Africa, an initiative which runs pitching competitions and serves as a launchpad for innovative African tech.

The fund will invest amounts of between US$250,000 and US$5 million in startups.

According to a Disrupt Africa report, the new fund will be led by chief executive officer (CEO) Tania Ngima, who has over 15 years of experience in leading teams, reporting, setup of organisational systems, corporate governance and SME restructuring in the manufacturing, renewable energy, technology infrastructure, real estate, telecom and financial services industries.

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