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Multimillion dollar investment in African eco-centric start-ups

By , ITWeb
Africa , 11 Jan 2023

This is the inaugural cohort of the new US$30-million VC fund, anchored by financial sector development agency FSD Africa.

(Photo: Business Wire)
(Photo: Business Wire)

Pre-seed venture capital (VC) fund and accelerator Catalyst Fund announced a US$2-million investment into 10 start-ups building solutions to improve the resilience of climate-vulnerable communities in Africa.

According to a statement released by the VC this is the inaugural cohort of the new US$30-million VC fund, anchored by financial sector development agency FSD Africa and aimed at supporting early-stage founders to develop technology that will make Africa more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The firm says each of the start-ups will be offered US$100,000 of equity as well as US$100,000 of hands-on venture-building support.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with ten ground-breaking African start-ups working to build a more resilient and sustainable future,” said Maelis Carraro, Managing Partner of Catalyst Fund. “Our goal is to back mission-driven founders that share our vision of a world where every individual has the tools and opportunities they need to thrive. From agtech to insurtech, waste management, disaster response, and carbon finance, these start-ups display finance, tech, and business model innovations that will help communities better adapt to climate impacts and grow their resilience.”

The ten African start-ups selected:

Agro Supply [Uganda]: a mobile layaway system that helps farmers save money gradually using their mobile phones and to cash out in order to purchase farm inputs such as hybrid (drought-resistant) seeds, from maize to sorghum, sunflower and soybean during the planting season.

Assuraf [Senegal]: a digital insurtech platform offering end-users access to a range of insurance products (e.g. agriculture, automotive, health, housing, natural disasters) from over 20+ insurance companies with a fully integrated claims management system.

Bekia [Egypt]: a tech-enabled waste collection solution enabling companies and households to exchange their waste (plastic, paper, electronics, metals, cooking oil) against a financial incentive paid on a digital wallet.

Eight Medical [Nigeria]: a cloud-native Emergency Medical Services (EMS) platform that provides on-demand urgent care when and where it is needed. This “911 for Africa” connects emergency medical responders on motorcycles to users in distress in 10 minutes or less, including for climate-induced crises.

Farm to Feed [Kenya]: a food supply chain company that is providing a digitally-enabled solution to food loss/waste. Their climate-smart solution focuses on providing a market for imperfect and surplus produce from farmers, contributing to food security and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Farmz2U [Nigeria, Kenya]: an agtech enterprise driving sustainable agriculture. Through Farmz2U, farmers can access personalized farming advice (especially on regenerative farming practices), affordable credit, quality and traceable inputs, and direct buyers for their harvest.

Octavia Carbon [Kenya]: the Global South’s first Direct Air Capture (DAC) company that is building the world’s lowest-cost DAC hub. Octavia is currently building DAC machinery to capture carbon from the air for resale as either carbon dioxide or carbon credits to off-takers.

PaddyCover [Nigeria]: works with established insurers and digital platforms to design and offer bespoke products via their platform that facilitates flexible insurance packages, including health, life and, in the future, index-based crop insurance. The offerings are built into the lifestyle touchpoints of the customer, either as a convenience or as complementary value-adds.

Sand to Green [Morocco]: transforms deserts into cultivable land using agroforestry methodology and a solar-powered desalination system to design climate-smart regenerative farms.

VAIS [Egypt]: a precision agtech start-up committed to climate resilience and food security by providing data intelligence to farms via their FarmGATE application, which is powered by proprietary artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML)-based virtual field probing (VFP) technology, to enable better use of water and other farm inputs to produce better yields.

Juliet Munro, Director of Digital Economy at FSD Africa, added: “At FSD Africa, we believe that by harnessing the power of tech, and specifically Fintech innovation, we can help to spur the development of climate resilience solutions for Africa, thereby helping deliver on COP27’s core themes of adaptation and implementation. These companies are strong examples of the innovation we need to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities in across the continent.”

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