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Seedstars, Fondation Botnar launch new fund to back African startups focused on youth wellbeing

Economics

Seedstars Capital and Swiss philanthropic foundation Fondation Botnar have launched Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures, a $20 million investment mandate targeting early-stage startups in Africa that are focused on improving the wellbeing of people below 30 years in low-and-middle-income countries.

The evergreen fund will back pre-seed to Series A startups including those that advance health services, environmental sustainability and ecological resilience (like access to clean energy), local food security, water and sanitation, waste management, affordable housing, access to employment and safe and sustainable transportation in Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt.

Seedstars told TechCrunch that the mandate will provide initial capital of $250,000 and follow-on investments of up to $750,000. It plans to invest in at least seven startups annually over the next five years.

Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures will make co-investments alongside like-minded investors with the hope of encouraging more capital inflow into Africa. Alongside its co-investor network, it will identify, invest and scale startups with the potential to transform the lives of young people across its target markets.

“There is a major gap in the wellbeing of youth if we compare developed countries with emerging markets. Our goal is to transform cities by creating inclusive urban environments and systems that are truly fit and ready to support the health and wellbeing of the young people who live in emerging markets through the transformational power of digital technology,” said Benjamin Langer, partner at Seedstars Capital, an alternative investment platform launched last year to back new fund managers in emerging and frontier markets.

Langer added that, “by investing in purpose-related venture-backed companies, we can accelerate our target outcome to improve the wellbeing of young people in emerging markets. We are comparing the “acceleration” with some other actions that the partners are pursuing like grants or donations in emerging markets.”

Seedstars and Fondation Botnar have already made their first joint investment in Senegal-based logistics startup Chargel, which matches shippers with transporters. In addition to being a platform for owners of large fleets of trucks, Chargel also pools together independent shippers, giving them new earning opportunities.

Commenting on the launch of the Wellbeing Ventures mandate, Antoine Veyrassat, the venture philanthropy lead at Fondation Botnar said: “Fondation Botnar is excited to join Seedstars in supporting companies that are making a difference.”

“Our shared commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of young people aligns strongly with our investment strategy that takes a market-based approach to philanthropy in addition to our other philanthropic funding, especially as rapid urbanization and the increasing number of young people living in cities present both unique challenges and opportunities,” said Veyrassat.

Fondation Botnar is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of young people living in urban areas worldwide.

Seedstars Youth Wellbeing Ventures adds to the growing list of funds under the Seedstars Group, an accelerator and VC that is active globally in more than 30 emerging markets. Its other funds include Seedstars International Ventures I (SIV I), its first global fund for emerging markets with a focus on the pre-seed stage, SIV II, a fund launched last year in collaboration with Patricia Sosrodjojo targeting 100 startups in emerging markets, and Seedstars Africa Ventures, a pan-African early-stage fund.

It also adds to the increasing number of purpose driven funds that have been launched recently in Africa including the Africa People + Planet Fund, by pan-African venture firm Novastar, which is raising over $200 million to invest in startups developing agriculture and climate solutions on the continent, and another one by climate tech VC Equator, targeting startups alleviating the impact of climate change.

 

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