Africa Tech Ventures that was launched alongside Mairead Cahill is aiming to close up by the end of June 2018 its plans to have invested in startups all over Africa. Striving so hard to raise a sum of US$ 50m, the ever busy woman, Eline Blaauboer, hopes to get this figure for her new firm, Africa Tech Ventures.
“We are interested to invest in early-stage businesses that use technology to scale across Africa and provide solutions in key industries like financial inclusion, energy, education, employment, agriculture and healthcare,” said Blaauboer.
From the onset, she had worked for a firm that focuses on software investments in Europe, Us, and Israel, Glide Investment Management but after 5 years of work with them, she had moved her mind towards Africa and had settled for Kenya. Since then she has been known to her extremely busy life, She founded TBL Mirror Fund in 2007 with some Netherlands private investors putting their capital into the project, and this was spearheading the move from charity to impact investing. Somewhere along the line, she also took on the management of Spark Fund.
A total of 15 businesses in East Africa enjoyed from the investment of both TBL Mirror Fund and Safaricom Spark Fund including Cellulant, Software Technologies, Research Solutions, Sendy, Lynk, Eneza Education and FarmDrive.
“Through TBL Mirror Fund we learned that to really build winning businesses, you need to be able to invest substantial amounts, as there are still funding gaps, with not many investors being able to support start-ups from seed to Series B/C,” Blaauboer said.
A significant lesson she learnt and she now plans to put to use with Africa Tech Ventures, as she still pushes for an exit for TBL Mirror Fund.
“We exited one company earlier in the year – we sold Research Solutions to Dalberg – and are planning two more this year. For Africa Tech Ventures all focus is on getting to our first close next year, fundraising takes time,” she said.
“We have in the past raised from private investors, corporates and DFIs and plan to do the same for Africa Tech Ventures, adding fund of funds and family offices.”
Looking ahead to this new project, this outstanding woman rests on the track record she has plus the networks in East Africa, the point where its base team are settled and can further help businesses to locate good people, clients and partners.
“For Africa Tech Ventures we’ll also focus on investing in businesses from West and South Africa looking to expand to East Africa,” she said.
“We have seen deal flow growing significantly, with good quality teams drawn to the opportunity to use technology to fill essential needs on a commercial basis, all across Africa. This in return is attracting investors from across the world, all very exciting.”
Blaauboer said the greatest challenge that startups face within Africa is to find for themselves good talent.
“Good people are scarce and expensive, leave for better-paid jobs at large corporates, so you have to continuously hire and train. This also provides an opportunity, with many startups focused on training and employment space, so we hope this challenge will be short to mid term,” she said.
She said that there are both negative and positive sides to the lack of governmental regulation of the Tech Space.
“On the one hand, the absence of policies has enabled services like M-Pesa to grow, on the other hand, the unexpected creation of policies can kill businesses. It is therefore essential to know the local context well and have good local advisers,” she said.