WeChat Africa plans to invest $3.5 million in tech startups

WeChat Africa plans to invest 50 million South African Rand (about 3.5 million US Dollars) in tech startups in Africa.
WeChat Africa will identify promising tech startups, via an application and selection process, and support the startups’ speedy entrance into the market using the WeChat platform. WeChat Africa has appointed technology strategy firm Batstone to coordinate the effort.
“Our fund aims to provide financial support to businesses so that they can effectively get on the WeChat platform. This will include technical integration and communications tactics across the Naspers’ stable and other suited channels,” said Brett Loubser, Head of WeChat Africa.
Since WeChat’s successful partnerships with South African startups, such as Money for Jam, Picup and OrderIn, WeChat’s growth strategy has increasingly focused on integrating with early stage businesses whose models strategically fit with and clearly demonstrate the power of the WeChat platform.
WeChat provides a platform for quick and broad access to a national audience, enabling startups to easily reach new and existing customers.
“We have been working with Batstone since mid-2014 and in that time have come to trust their purpose-led approach to understanding and supporting tech businesses. This approach, coupled with their networks, means our partnership is well placed to identify and vet the best possible investment opportunities for WeChat,” added Loubser.
WeChat’s investments will target tech-enabled businesses that have initial market validation and a viable product that could clearly benefit from WeChat’s technology platform and the associated access to potential consumers.
“Our experience in the past two years has demonstrated that many companies have huge potential but are unable to communicate what they do clearly,” says Alexandra Fraser, Head of Batstone Ventures.
In addition to identifying potential partners for WeChat Africa, Batstone will provide strategic consulting services to effectively support these businesses through their growth and expansion.
Applications via Batstone’s website will open in mid-January 2016. Selection will be based on an online application and a series of workshops.
“This fund fits beautifully into the local VC landscape,” says Fraser. “Our sense is that it complements many of the existing funds and investment strategies in the market. Ideally, we and WeChat Africa can partner with great businesses, as well as VC funds looking for a platform with large market reach to test their investments’ potential.”