Antler East Africa closes $13.5 million fund to invest in early stage startups – TechCrunch
Antler East Africa, the Nairobi office of venture capital firm and builder Antler, has closed a $13.5 million fund to invest in early-stage tech startups in the region.
The oversubscribed round — Antler intended to raise $10 million but ended up with an additional $3.5 million — has LPs that include Baillie Gifford, a well-known Tesla backer; family offices like Canica; and institutional investors like the IFC.
East Africa Was launched in August 2019. It runs a comprehensive business building model with two cohorts each year.
So far, five cohorts of 153 founders have gone through the acceleration programs and the company has made 14 investments. A few of them include AIfluence, Marketforce subsidiary Digiduka, Honeycoin, Uncover Skincare, Try Cooked, and Vybe.
Neverthelessits parent company, Antler, founded two years earlier by Magnus Grimeland, uses a mixed model where it acts as a business builder and a venture capital firm.
The company, which invests from pre-seed to Series C, has cut checks at more than 250 companies from its $300 million fund.
Antler East Africa’s new fund allows it to take a similar approach: accepting founders who want to build their startups from scratch and investing in already-formed teams that need capital to scale..
“We are still doing business construction. It’s still the core of what we do. Fair that now that the fund is closedwe have enough money to spend on existing businesses that are coming in,” Selam Kebedethe company’s director, told TechCrunch in a call. “And we can invest in things that are already was built with a pure VC type configuration investment type.
Kebede is part of the all-female team which includes partners Melanite Ayenew and Mary Nielsen and program manager Joana Borges.
Antler said he would accept Founders and Teams on an ongoing basis. Founders who opt into the business building model to find a co-founder and pitch an idea will stay in the Antler community for up to six months.
For existing startups, two to six weeks is enough for Antler East Africa to work with the team before the company writes a check. Antler East Africa announces that it will invest up to $100,000 in these startups at a “mutually agreed valuation. It plans to make 35 new Series A pre-seed investments over the next three years. There is also an agreement for the Antler global fund to follow up on some rounds. up to series C.
“What has changed now is that in the past we were only going from scratch to like the first $100,000 bill. But now we’re saying we can also bring in existing teams and ideas that formed outside of Antler, but they can come to us and then we can invest fair like any other VC would,” Kebede noted.
“So it’s changed a bit from what we typically used to do over the past three years. Now we can start from literally day zero to accompany you and give you the first institutional ticket following Series C and D.”
Kebede told TechCrunch that Antler East Africa is independent of the sector. However, the company wants to invest in problem-solving startups in climate tech, agritech and fintech. She also said the team had already made some investments with this new format but declined to disclose their names.
As a female-led venture capital team, Antler East Africa wants to invest more in startups founded and led by women in the region, Kebede said. He will try to improve the numbers of his venture capital model, where 25% of the founders in his portfolio are women.
Meanwhile, women-led venture capital firms are impressively take their place in a male-dominated tech space as they try to bridge the funding gap that has plagued the industry for years. The Antler East Africa team, led by Ayenew and Nielsen, joins this list of such companies, including those specifically dedicated to women-founded and led teams like Alitheia Capital and FirstCheck Africa..
“To my knowledge, there are few to no 100% female-led VCs, at least in Kenya. But our partners [Ayenew and Nielsen] and me, we are all women,” Kebede said.
“And so it’s super exciting to be able to do that, especially as a newbie fund manager. It hasn’t been easy though because, you know, there’s the extra kind of review and the concern of others when they only see women leading it, but it was also exciting.”