Tunisia’s AfricInvest partners with Cathay Innovation launch ~$170 million fund to invest in African startups

Tunisian private equity firm AfricInvest that has $1.5 billion in assets under its management, is partnering with San Francisco-based Cathay Innovation, a global VC fund created by French PE firm Cathay Capital, to launch Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund, the two organization announced in a joint statement earlier this week.

The fund, with a projected size of about $170 million (€150 million) which could make it one of the largest VC funds in Africa, will invest in technology startups all across Africa and even the non-African startups that are expanding to the region, Khaled Ben Jilani, a Senior Partner with AfricInvest told MENAbytes, adding that the fund will invest $1 million to $10 million in the startups over multiple rounds.

Khaled, speaking to MENAbytes, also said that they’re expecting the first close in the range of $50-60 million by June this year. He added that the fund is sector-agnostic but they are specifically looking at opportunities in logistics & mobility, fintech, software, energy innovation, healthtech and edtech.

The statement by two organizations noted that their partnership capitalizes on the pan-African presence of AfrivInvest teams (eight offices across the region) and its in-depth knowledge of the entrepreneurial networks across Africa as well as the experience and depth of Cathay Innovation’s global platform that connects the main technological ecosystems in Europe, China and the United States.

The fund will contribute to the development and scaling up of innovative companies that demonstrate strong growth in Africa while being open to international markets, said the statement, adding that it will provide selected companies with high value-added support to facilitate partnerships and accelerate their geographical expansion.

“This fund will help create high-tech jobs and make products and services accessible to millions of Africans. It will have a significant impact on the continent in terms of the development of skills and know-how, value creation and economic, financial and social inclusion with strong ambitions in terms of return on investment. The fund will contribute to removing barriers between African countries and with the world by creating and connecting new digital infrastructures and services,” explained the statement.

Aziz Mebarek, co-founder AfricInvest, commenting on the occasion, said, “We are excited about the combination of experience, expertise and networks that will be delivered through this partnership between AfricInvest and Cathay, a world-class investor. Our combined objective is to provide support to a new generation of African companies in cutting-edge fields, with the ambition to grow them regionally and globally.”

Mingpo Cai, Co-founder and Charmain of Cathay Innovation, added, “This partnership is based on shared vision and values, as well as ambitious objectives in terms of impact and return on investment. This Fund will also provide Cathay Innovation’s portfolio companies with access to fast-growing African markets. We are convinced that this partnership will contribute to changing the financing and development of innovation in Africa.”

Late last year, Cairo-based Sawari Ventures had also announced their $70 million fund for North Africa after raising $35 million for it as the first tranche. Sawari’s fund that’s named Sawari Ventures North Africa Fund, will make investments with an average ticket size of $1.5 million in 25 growth stage companies in different sectors including ICT, Deep Technology, FinTech, Education Technologies in Egypt, Tunisia & Morocco.

H/T: Mohammed ElKasstawi

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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