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Swiss VC firm determined to introduce Africa’s first blockchain unicorn

VC funding for African blockchain start-ups increased by 1,668%, outpacing all other start-ups by eleven times, according to CV VC’s inaugural blockchain report.

Switzerland-based private venture capital company Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC) said it will leverage its public-private partnership with Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to build the first-ever, blockchain-focused Accelerator for Africa – and stakeholders are willing to bet Africa will produce its first ever blockchain unicorn.

The assertions were made after CV VC launched its African Blockchain Early-Stage Fund and announced the publishing of the inaugural African Blockchain Report in partnership with Standard Bank.

The Report looks at the underlying revolutionary blockchain movement, set to enable Africa to transact and interact for the well-being of its people and economies.

According to the Report, African nations are amongst the fastest crypto adopters globally, and blockchain funding has far outpaced all other sectors, eleven times.

Key findings include:

• Companies raised US$91-million in Q1 of 2022, a staggering 1,668% YoY increase from Q1 of the previous year.

• When comparing Q1 2021 vs. Q1 2022, venture funding for African blockchain start-ups far outpaces the growth seen in general African venture funding - 1,668% vs. 149% - showing 11 times the level of growth on a YoY basis.

• Africa is the fastest adopting crypto continent globally, yet it has only a 0.5% share of total global blockchain venture funding, which stands at US$25.2-billion

• African blockchain funding of US$127-million in all of 2021 is similar in size to a single blockchain ‘mega-deal’ of which there were 59 globally

• The regulatory quagmire is clearing as 6 nations have regulated, and others are making headway

• Blockchain in Africa is unique as it is driving from the bottom up, where essential industries are propelling forward with blockchain tech; agriculture, mining, remittances, inclusion, identity, and property, to name a few.

CV VC, as an initiator of Crypto Valley blockchain hub, incorporating 14 blockchain Unicorns, said it will invest in the broader applicability of blockchain to solving problems and creating new markets beyond crypto.

This investment includes developing a blockchain-and Africa focused accelerator.

CV VC said, “The goal of this Accelerator is to invest in 100 start-ups from the African continent over the next four years. To date, CV VC has invested in 12 start-ups where blockchain use cases go far beyond cryptocurrencies to drive Africa's future. CV VC intends that it will act as a leading enabler, through the launch of its African Blockchain Early Stage Fund.”

Véronique Haller, The Chargée d’affaires, Embassy of Switzerland to South Africa, said “Blockchain has the potential to be a catalyst for positive change and shape the future of our continent. With data in and around blockchain in Africa still scarce, the first Africa Blockchain Report will be an important milestone. And let’s bet that Africa will soon be home to its first blockchain Unicorn!”

CV VC has a proficient team on the ground, including Gideon Greaves, who added, “Our objective with the African Blockchain Report is to share a data-driven account of blockchain in Africa and begin an annual collation of benchmarkable venture data and solidly referenced African insights. We focussed the report on a data set of 40 African blockchain companies. This way, we can be sure of the relevance of facts from which we can benchmark forward. We are also very proud to give an assessment of the regulatory landscape and a magnetic introduction to some of the greatest blockchain minds on the continent”.

Necessity driving blockchain

According to CV VC one of the more significant reasons for the rampant growth of the blockchain sector - is pure necessity.

“Many Africans cannot rely on vast, centralised, regulated infrastructural systems. They are often riddled with inefficiencies and red tape in the cases where they exist. As a result, innovation is blessed with a clean slate on which to paint, and progressive advances seem to follow. These advances sometimes improve existing systems, but, more often than not, they leapfrog the entire legacy system. Most notable in the report is the evidence of the brilliant mindset, energy, and tech capability of the many great founders who are leading the African blockchain revolution in a manner that is exemplary to the rest of the world,” the company stated.

Mathias Ruch, Co-Founder of CV VC, added, “While actively participating in Africa, we are amazed and humbled by the determination of the brilliant founders who are changing the future not just for their industries and nation but for the world. In Africa, there is a mindset that complements Switzerland's determination and a will to create well-being for its citizens and the future of humanity. As the world enters the decade of the fourth industrial revolution, building on blockchain as a transformative tech, it is worth recanting the main theme of this year's WEF, ‘Working Together and Restoring Trust’. This is what CV VC intends to do with other drivers in Africa.”

Ian Putter, Head, Blockchain CoE&CA Training Office at Standard Bank Group, said, “Africa matters. Africa is a reminder that life matters and that there is a great need for everyone to work together to enable humanity to be well in all ways. The immediacy of existential threats as experienced by Africans requires a different pace. Africa’s difficulties are compounded by the pandemic that has disrupted revenues, foreign direct investment, development assistance, remittances, trade, and tourism, and not forgetting the effects of war. African economies are in danger of even further marginalization due to macro trends towards economic deglobalisation. 

"The silver lining has been the self-fast-tracking of Africa’s digital and tech economy. This has already bolstered resilience as a road map to how and why the world needs to embrace blockchain as a transformative technology. Standard Bank has been a pioneer in leveraging blockchain to bring speed and transparency to our customer base across Africa. We are very excited to work with CV VC as a blockchain ambassador to enable the further emergence of blockchain, as a resource on which Africa can build and outreach globally”. 

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