Pan-African venture capital firm Verod-Kepple closes first funding at $60 million to grow tech companies

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 11, 2024 11:52 AM EDT
Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures (VKAV) partner Ory Okolloh. Photo credit: Ory Okolloh

Pan African venture capital firm, Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures (VKAV) has announced the closure of its first fund at $60 million. This recent capital injection follows previous rounds in 2022 and last year supported by various investors. The fund has already deployed $17.5 million and plans to support up to 21 growth-stage companies with the new funding.

As local capital pools for growth-stage companies remain limited, VKAV is tackling the growing funding gap. It will be able to provide much-needed capital to Series A and B startups amidst a decline in investment. The fund backs startups that are building infrastructure for the digital economy and targeting shifts in consumer trends. The fund invests between $1 million and $3 million, investing an average of $1.5 million in 12 companies from Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa.

“Over the last few years, we have seen a growth in pre-seed and seed funds, and we felt there are not enough funds at the growth stage of investing to get these companies to the next level in terms of scale, exits or even being around as sustainable profitable businesses. Our focus is Series A and B but we have the ability to go earlier to pre-Series A if we think it is a good opportunity. We think there’s still a need for more growth-stage capital with locally based investors,” VKAV partner Ory Okolloh said about the firm’s agenda.

The VKAV fund joins the ranks of African VC funds that are receiving backing from Japanese institutional investors looking to diversify their risks. In 2022, Ory Okolloh alongside Okolloh, Ryosuke Yamawaki, and Satoshi Shinada launched the venture capital firm. It is a joint venture between Verod Capital, a private equity firm, and Kepple Africa, a Tokyo-based venture capital firm. The VKAV team provides fundraising support, partnerships, governance, ESG implementation, talent, and legal to their portfolio companies.

The collaboration resulted from the founders noticing that many startups experienced challenges moving from pre-seed and seed stage to Series A and B and later stages. A more institutional approach was required for a successful transition and scaling. The collaboration has allowed the fund to offer meaningful hands-on support, including bringing operational best practices, improving the governance structures, and navigating the complex macroeconomic environment in Africa, to portfolio companies in their scale-up phase.

VKAV partner, Ory Okolloh was the Managing Director, Omidyar Network and Luminate Group in Africa. She served as Google’s policy and strategy manager for Africa, developed open source software application Ushahidi, and co-founded Mzalendo, a website that tracks the performance of Kenyan MPs. She earned a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2014, Okolloh was named Time 100’s most influential people in the world.

With her vast experience in tech and investment, Okolloh hopes to help exceptional founders build thriving companies. The VKAV fund plans to expand to other ecosystems, including Angola, Zambia, DRC, and Tunisia in search of new investment opportunities especially in underserved markets as it continues its push to be pan-African.

“Given the diversity of markets, shifting macros, markets that are underserved in terms of investors, we think taking a pan-African and a sector-agnostic approach is important. We definitely look out for a diversity of portfolio, not just in terms of gender and founders, but sector and market as well,” said Okolloh.