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Thursday, June 16, 2022


From left to right: Co-founder Janade du Plessis (in white sneakers); Margaret O’Connor(Chairperson of the Launch Africa Board) and co-founder Zach George.
  • Launched in July 2020, Launch Africa Ventures(‘Launch Africa”) has disrupted the market to become the most active early-stage Pan-African venture capital (“VC”) fund.
  • At the end of March 2022, its inaugural fund, Launch Africa Ventures Fund 1 (“Fund1”),closed at US$36.3 million, with investments from 238 retail and institutional investors in 40 countries.
  • Following the successful closure, Fund 1 announced its 100th investment at the end of May 2022, with $24 million invested in 108 early-stage tech and tech-enabled companies across 20 African countries.
In what most would describe as an audacious move, Launch Africa was established in July 2020, at the height of Covid-19, and had its first close in September 2020. The pandemic created a landscape that encouraged innovation and technological adoption at a speed once thought impossible, triggering business opportunities for African start-ups across technology industry verticals.

As a result, companies in the Launch Africa portfolio saw accelerated revenue growth and network effects during this period with the adoption of digital financial services, open banking, telemedicine, remote learning, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), digital identity management, and e-commerce across Africa.

Within 20monthsofits first close, the Pan-African VC fund has become widely known as a disruptor of the model for early-stage tech investments on the African continent. This was achieved by leveraging extensive ecosystem partnerships and trust networks with founders across Africa and investors around the globe.

Launch Africa’s partners believe that they have a critical role to play in developing and equipping tomorrow’s leaders today. With a focus on investing in the next generation of African technology start-ups, most of Launch Africa’s portfolio founders and their employees are 35 years of age and younger.

In addition to a focus on investing in the next generation of African tech leaders, diversity and inclusion are central to the Launch Africa investment ethos. To date, Fund 1 has invested in 91% African and 20% female co-founders.

Launch Africa is the brainchild of Zachariah (“Zach”) George and Janade du Plessis, both venture capital pioneers.

Zach completed his studies at the world-renowned Indian Institute of TechnologyMadras (I.I.T Madras) and graduate school at Stanford University whereafter he became a Wall Street bulge-bracket investment banker. He proceeded to become co-founder ofthe Barclays RiseGrowth Accelerator programmeand Startupbootcamp Afritech, two of the most significant accelerator programs on the African continent.

Part of the Barclays Accelerator, Rise offersan intensive start-upprogramme, designed to capture, shape and scale the next generation of innovative fintech businesses, whileStartupbootcamp Afritech is a Pan-African accelerator program that invests and grows innovative and scalable startups across Africa. Zach is also one of the most prominent Angel investors in African technology ventures.

Janade, a University of Cape Town (UCT) and Harvard Business School graduate, was the former Chief Investment Officer of the African Development Bank as well as the Head of Venture Capital at one of South Africa’s leading banks. He founded Abrazo Capital, a unique investment partner and capital management firm focused on disruptive social impact across Africa, underpinning hispassion for entrepreneurship and uplifting communities.

The two partners are joined on the Launch Africa Board bychairperson Margaret O’Connor – formerly a successful tech entrepreneur with a Silicon Valley exit, who later helped launch MasterCard across several key geographies in Asia. This was followed by a lengthy stint at the Center for Disruptive Technologies (CDT),a network born out of a collaboration between members of the of Singularity University's Global Studies Program and the Singularity Institute of Africa. As partner in CDT, Margaret kick-started CDT's Adventure Capitalist Network, connecting corporate venture capital, angel investors and early-stage VCs to emerging technology start-ups.

The 14-member Launch Africa team is actively supported by more than 30 global advisors, many of whom are leading C-suite executives at large global institutions, bolstering the skill set of Launch Africa’s portfolio founders with regional, product and sector expertise.

We assist the African founders of early-stage tech and tech-enabled companies to focus on what the continent needs right now—the rapid growth of businesses solving real-world problems combined with the creation of high-value jobs in sustainable ventures. We are proud to have helped many founders close their Seed funding rounds in 4-6 weeks, notably faster than the 4-6 months it typically takes for early-stage founders to close rounds in Africa,” saysZach.

LaunchAfrica also facilitates co-investment by its Limited Partners (LPs) through sharing due diligence, waiving fees and absorbing charges for LPs in the Seed and Pre-Series A investmentsled by the fund. To date, LaunchAfrica LPs have co-invested in excess of $14m in LaunchAfrica portfolio companies.

The LaunchAfrica team works with founders and expert advisors to fast-track exitopportunitiesfor investors.” Janade says. “Providing our exit strategy during these challenging times instills investor confidence and brings significant benefits to the African tech ecosystem.

CommerzVentures,a leading German fintech-focused Venture Capital firm, is one of the lead institutional investors in LaunchAfrica Ventures Fund 1. As a sector specialist, CommerzVentures offers a comprehensive network of partners, decision-makers and investors within Fintech and financial services across the European Union, as well as actionable intelligence and advisory.

We are pleased to partner with LaunchAfrica Ventures to invest in some of the most exciting fintech investment opportunities in Africa,” says CommerzVentures Managing Partner, Patrick Meisberger. “LaunchAfrica provides a diversification of risk, returns, and impact byoffering access to early-stage, post-revenue companies across multiple market verticals and geographic regions.

Adapting the lean start-up methodology to early-stage investing, the fund created due diligence systems that captured investment insights from expert advisors and ecosystem partners across Africa to supplement the team’s extensive experience, growing value in tech and tech enabled companies across the continent.

LaunchAfrica Fund 1’s portfolio currently includes 38% Fintech, 16% e-Commerce and Marketplaces, 13% Health-Tech, 12% Logistics and Mobility, 11% Data Analytics/A.I. and 7% Ed-Tech.

Launch Africa is domiciled in Mauritius and administered by the Apex Group – one of the world’s leading fund administrators with over $2 trillion in assets under administration.


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