Antler East Africa just announced its close of a $13.5 million Fund to invest in early-stage tech startups in the East African region of the continent. The funds were raised through the participation of leading investors such as Baillie Gifford, family offices like Canica and institutional investors such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The Fund is the Nairobi office of the VC firm and venture builder, Antler, which was founded two years ago by Magnus Grimeland. The firm doubles as a venture builder and a VC firm, attracting a lot of startup founders to gain mentorship and growth opportunities through its accelerator programs.
The firm invests majorly in startups at the pre-seed to Series C stages of funding and has enabled over 400 startups access to its $300 million Fund. Launched in August 2019, the Fund has seen over five cohorts with about 153 founders pass through its accelerator programs. Of these bulk of startup founders, the firm has invested in 14 of them including Alfluence, Marketforce-subsidiary Digiduka, Honeycoin, Uncover Skincare, Try Cooked, and Vybe.
The firm is planning this month, March 2022, to embark on a new, community-driven platform approach where it will accept founders and teams on a rolling basis. Founders keen on venture building, can stay within the Antler community for up to six months while looking for a co-founder and an idea to launch. For existing startups, two to six weeks are required for the Antler East Africa team to work with the startup before it secures its first ticket. The firm agress to invest up to $100,000 in these startups at a “mutually agreed valuation”.
Antler plans to make 35 new investments over the coming 3 years, as well as plans to fund some rounds all the way to Series C.
As Selam Kebede, the firm’s director states,
We still do the venture building. That’s still the core of what we do. Just that now the fund is closed, we have enough money to spend in existing businesses that are coming in.
Kebede notes that,
What changed now is, in the past, we were going only from zero to like the first $100,000 ticket. But now we’re saying we can also take in existing teams and ideas that formed outside of Antler, but they can come to us and then we can invest just like any other VC would. So that changed a bit from what we typically used to do in the past three years. Now, we can start from literally day zero to support you and give you the first institutional ticket following up to Series C and D.
Coming at a month dedicated to women, the work of Antler East Africa is remarkable as a female-led VC team. Led by Marie Nielsen and Melalite Ayenew, they are, as such, greatly interested in startups founded and run by women within the region. Through this proactive approach, they are contributing to bridging the gender equity gaps on the African continent. They join the ranks of VC firms like Alitheia Capital and FirstCheck Africa that are dedicated especially to female-founded teams across the continent.
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