IFC invests in Savannah Fund to support early-stage African start-ups

10 Mar 2021

Johannesburg, South Africa​, March 10, 2021—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced an investment in the Savannah Fund, a leading technology seed fund in Africa, to increase lending to start-ups across sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and disruptive companies in high-growth sectors.

IFC led the fund's first close investing US$3mn in the US$25mn fundraising. The Women's Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, or We-Fi, invested US$500,000. This is Savannah Fund's second seed fund.

The fund will provide early-stage funding to start-ups in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, with an eye on expansion to Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda in East Africa, as well as Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana in West Africa. The fund will invest in companies that support development at the bottom of the pyramid in sectors including fintech, education, logistics and e-commerce, healthcare, and agtech.

"Savannah Fund II will continue its long-term mission to partner with ambitious founders building start-ups that will scale across Africa. We're especially bullish on start-ups that have the potential to scale beyond the continent and that can expand into Silicon Valley and emerging markets like South East Asia, Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America," said Mbwana Alliy, Savannah Fund's Managing Partner. "Entrepreneurs in Residence, especially female founders, are a key part of our investment strategy. We're proud to partner with We-Fi to further expand and encourage female founders on the continent."

"Early-stage funding is vital to enable more of Africa's emerging and growing tech founders to grow their businesses 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's Regional Director for Southern Africa and Nigeria.

Africa's digital economy could be worth US$180bn by 2025, and start-ups are a critical piece of this growth. Venture capital investments in start-ups in Africa in 2020 totaled around US$1.4bn.

About IFC

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In the fiscal year 2020, we invested US$22bn in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About We-Fi

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), housed in the World Bank Group, is a groundbreaking partnership that aims to unlock financing for women-led businesses in developing countries. We-Fi's partners include 14 donor governments, six multilateral development banks as implementing partners, and numerous other stakeholders in the public and private sector around the world. We-Fi takes an ecosystem approach to removing barriers to women's economic empowerment, addressing constraints and opportunities related to finance, market access, capacity and the enabling environment. https://we-fi.org/

About Savannah Fund

Led by Mbwana Alliy and Paul Bragiel, Savannah Fund is one of the earliest sub-Saharan Africa-focused tech venture capital firms, starting its investment activities in 2012 when it launched its first accelerator program in Kenya. In 2016, it transitioned to focus on early-stage start-up investments. To date, it has invested in 31 companies across seven countries on the continent. For more information, visit https://savannah.vc/

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