early-stage checks in Kenya
African Startups

Who’s Writing $25-75k Checks for Early-Stage Kenyan Companies?

By Tony Chen, Managing Director at Kinyungu Ventures

In the last 6 months, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover organizations with the conviction to write early-stage $25-75k checks in Kenya. These checks are super-hard to write as origination, due diligence, and post-monitoring costs are proportionally high. To make the fund economics work, these groups typically have to leverage sponsors, networks, partnerships, and other sources of revenue.

But, it’s not impossible, as you can see by the growing number of groups filling a big gap in the ecosystem. Almost all of these groups actually wrote checks in 2020.

(Note that there are also more and more individuals writing smaller checks, but almost as a rule, they do so quietly and are exclusively referral-based)

In no particular order…

Kepple Africa Ventures | tech-enabled businesses, $25-150k first checks (equity), quick due diligence, offer connections to Japanese corporates

Sherpa Ventures | Early-Stage tech ventures with prominent entrepreneurs as partners. $25-50k targeting ~5% equity.

Baobab Network | African-led, usually tech, seed/pre-seed, equity play targeting 10%

Unconventional Capital (uncap)| Average $20k checks, typically revenue share-type debt instruments

Optimizer Foundation | Health, Education, and Youth Employment, $50-150k+ equity tickets

Villgro | Healthcare / Science specific $5-20k grants, followed by $50k+ investments moving more towards equity.

VBAN | Kenyan angel group that has done six deals, including two that have gone onto YC. Average ticket size is $70k.

Haba Capital | Kenyan angel group mostly made up of Kenyan diaspora

Global Partnerships | Local founders solving bottom-of-the-pyramid problems. Checks start at $75k+

Kua Ventures | Supports enterprises creating change in Kenya with Capital, Coaching, and a Community of faith-driven entrepreneurs.

Partners WorldWide | For Partners Worldwide cohort alum, low-interest debt instrument.

Jua Kickstarter Fund to Empower African Entrepreneurs Doubles to $2m

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