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US VC firm launches investment program to back African start-ups

By , ITWeb
Africa , 25 Oct 2022

New investment program targets up to 30 underrepresented entrepreneurs in underserved sectors and geographies across Africa.

Fintech business-focused venture capital firm Flourish Ventures, has announced the launch of affiliate Madica, a structured investment program for pre-seed stage technology companies in Africa.

In a statement release to the media, the VC company said it is “aiming to serve mission-driven and under-represented founders, the new sector-agnostic program will invest capital in tech start-ups and offer founders tailored mentorship and world-class company-building support.”

Over the next three years, Madica, seeks to back 25-30 African entrepreneurs with up to US$200,000 each, coupled with multi-year programmatic support, it added.

According to Flourish Ventures, the investment program also looks to address systemic challenges faced by early-stage founders in Africa, such as limited access to capital, industry networks, mentorship, and structured training.

A central element of the program will be a carefully curated panel of seasoned African operators who will mentor Madica founders.

Based on the belief that strong mentorship is a central feature of the most vibrant start-up ecosystems, Madica will provide this mentor community with rewards tied to company success.

“To further cultivate this sense of community, Madica intends to share a part of its financial returns with the broader ecosystem. In pioneering some of these unique features in an investment program, Madica hopes to promote a vibrant and more equitable funding environment on the continent,” the statement continues.

Made in Africa

Madica, short for ‘Made In Africa’, is an Africa-wide initiative and invites founders from across the continent, including those outside the large tech hubs of Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa.

The program will prioritise companies led by local founders, women, and those focused on frontier sectors to shore up gaps in funding on the continent.

“For example, African-educated CEOs raise significantly less than their foreign-educated counterparts in both number of deals (44%) and in amount (28%). Start-ups with a female CEO fare far worse, as they are overlooked in favour of start-ups led by male CEOs, with 93% of the 2021 funding in Africa going to the latter,” Flourish VC stated.

Emmanuel Adegboye, Head of Madica, said, “Although investment is booming on the continent, funds are often disproportionately targeted at a few well-networked entrepreneurs and skewed towards the more prominent tech hubs.”

“Unlike other programs, Madica is sector-agnostic and intends to double down on providing hands-on support, extensive resources, access to networks and more. This is why, in addition to US$6m of investment capital, we have reserved an equal amount for programmatic support. We encourage founders across the continent to apply for our program. We believe Africans have an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit, and one of Madica’s core goals is to ensure a level playing field for every African founder.”

Flourish VC has listed criteria for eligibility to the program, including that candidates must: -

• have a minimum viable product (MVP)

• have founder(s) who are engaged full time

• have received little or no institutional funding

Ameya Upadhyay, Venture Partner at Flourish Ventures, added, “Madica is an investment in the African venture ecosystem, with the audacious goal of creating a broader systemic shift. Through Madica, we intend to develop a cadre of mentors, create world-class programming, crowd-in follow-on capital and leverage Flourish’s global presence to extend the reach of local networks. These will eventually benefit other participants in the ecosystem – start-ups, investors, and policymakers.”

Upadhyay said, “We hope that Madica can help change the narrative around African start-ups – lower the perception of risk, attract more capital, inspire more founders, and garner more media attention.”

Madica operates an open application process so founders can apply without an introduction. The program will work with partners such as incubators, accelerators, and angels to identify and support entrepreneurs.

All applicants will undergo the same evaluation procedure, and investments will be made on a rolling basis throughout the year. Applications are now open, and interested start-ups can find out more and apply by visiting Madica's website.

Madica will be attending AfriLabs Annual Gathering, 26-28 October 2022 in Lusaka, Zambia to meet founders, network with the African tech community and talk more about their innovative program.

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