VC firm TLcom rakes in $40 million for new Africa fund

Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner, TLcom and Nigeria’s former Minister of Communication Technology. Credit: ITU

London and Nairobi-based venture firm TLcom Capital has raised $40 million for its new Africa fund. The target is $100 million. TIDE Africa Fund will focus on tech startups in Sub-Saharan Africa. The investors include African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and FBN Capital. The fund will make investments of between $500,000 and $10 million per company.

TLcom Capital, the VC fund started in London two decades ago with over $300 million under management and tech investments spanning Europe, Israel and the US, announced last week that commitments to the TIDE Africa Fund have hit $40 million.

TIDE Africa is the first international venture capital fund focused exclusively on technology-enabled solutions and innovation serving Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The fund will provide capital and business building support to African entrepreneurs developing technology-driven solutions for the continent.

TIDE Africa will make equity investments from early to growth stage companies in the $500,000 to $10 million range, focusing on fast-growing scalable companies leveraging the high penetration of mobile (now well over 70% across the continent). TIDE Africa is targeting companies that address large underserved consumer and corporate verticals such as financial services, commerce, energy, health and education. Due diligence is under way on the first round of investments.

“In recent years the TLcom team has invested heavily in the Africa VC opportunity. We have opened offices in Nairobi and Lagos, looked at hundreds of tech entrepreneurs in Africa, and successfully invested and exited the best among the first generation of African mobile startups, such as Upstream (acquired by private equity group Actis) and Movirtu (acquired by BlackBerry). While the Africa tech ecosystem is still maturing, we don’t see [how] Africa is any different from other tech investment opportunities across the globe, in terms of the magnitude of the investment upside,” said Maurizio Caio, Nairobi-based Founder and Managing Partner of TLcom.

“From the high quality of entrepreneurs to the opportunity of building companies serving large markets that are highly-valued by global acquirers and capital markets, all the ingredients are now in place for Africa to become the world’s next attractive tech investing destination,” adds Ido Sum, London-based Partner of TLcom and a former tech entrepreneur in Africa.

“TLcom believes that African scalable tech enterprises represent not only a massive value generation opportunity, but also a unique development tool that can result in job creation and much wider inclusion,” said Andreata Muforo, Nairobi-based Partner of TLcom, previously with the African Development Bank.

The TIDE Africa Fund has now reached its first close of $40 million – of the $100 million target – with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) committing $10 million each, alongside other African, American and European corporate investors and family offices, such as FBN Capital and Silicon Valley-based Bob King, Founder of the Stanford SEED institute. Other investors are currently working with a view to join the final close of the fund scheduled for June 2018.

“TIDE Africa offers a great opportunity to our investor partners and to global private capital to achieve significant returns and support world-class technology entrepreneurs who are working in Africa to create solutions for local and global markets. We look forward to finalizing our first deals and working closely with African entrepreneurs to help them reach their full potential,” concludes Omobola Johnson, Lagos-based Senior Partner of TLcom and Nigeria’s former Minister of Communication Technology.

The unique combination of African and London presence of the four partners of TLcom, enables the team to work closely with their portfolio companies, actively participate in the Africa tech ecosystem, and access their global network of co-investors, advisors and technology expertise.

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