Pan-African 'gender-equal investor' Janngo Capital reaches first close of €60m fund

After working at Jumia as its former Managing Director of the Nigeria office and Founding CEO of the Ivory Coast office, Fatuma Baa veteran of the African tech space, announced that her firm Janngo Capital raised a fund of €60 million (~$63 million) in 2019. The firm, wants to “invest 50% of its revenue in companies founded, co-founded or benefiting women”, received €15m from the European Investment Bank (EIB) as a lead investor and plans to close the fund next year.

While things didn’t go as planned, the just-announced first fund close is notable: received €10.5 million from other major investors, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and Boost Africa last December. Subsequently, other limited partners such as Proparco, Burda Principal Investments (BPI), Muller Medien and a former partner of KKR joined, reducing the total capital commitments by €34 million.

The firm said in a statement that its “Janngo Capital Startup Fund plans to invest in startups that enable Africans to improve their access to basic goods and services and African SMEs to improve their access to market and capital – and to create sustainable jobs at scale, with a focus on women and youth.”

per reports, women are better entrepreneurs than men – about 58% of Africa’s self-employed population are women and they contribute about 13% of the continent’s GDP). However, they face a significant funding shortfall of around $42 billion, and last year only received female founders less than 1% of the nearly $5 billion raised by African startups.

Janngo Capital is one of the few female-founded, owned and led venture capital and private equity firms that see a clear investment opportunity in closing the gender funding gap in Africa by making long-term commitments to support startups founded and led by women. Other funds with identical plays include FirstCheck Africa and Alitheia Capital; AfDB and EIB are limited partners in the latter.

The four-year-old venture capital firm doesn’t just invest in teams founded and led by women, however. While it plans to invest up to 50% of our new fund in startups founded, co-founded or benefiting women, it follows a “gender-equality” approach, Bâ, the firm’s founder and executive chairman, told TechCrunch – the fund’s current portfolio is 56 % founded and led by women. According to her, being a woman-founded, woman-owned and woman-led fund manager means that “gender equality is both a moral and a business case, as the $42 billion funding gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa generates GDP of missed opportunities of $300 billion wise.”

The fund’s thesis is evident in some of the startups it backs. So far, Janngo Capital has invested in 11 startups in Africa, including Sabi, a growth-stage B2B e-commerce platform Sabers with a female executive director. Other startups, including fintech Expensya and Ivorian online freight marketplace Jexport, have male founders.

Bâ explained that the fund, which aims for 15-30% ownership, is designed to support 25 companies over their lifetime. “The earlier we invest, the more likely it will be our property as we normally plan to continue,” she said. Janngo Capital invests from angel funding to late stage VC/PE. From the idea to the preliminary phase, it offers between €50,000 and €150,000; for seed or pre-series A, the female-founded firm is cutting checks between €150,000 and €1.5 million. Meanwhile, growth-stage startups seeking Series A to Series B investment can receive €1.5 million to €5 million from the firm.

Like most funds of this size, reducing ticket sizes in this range, Janngo Capital is sector agnostic. But it pays particular attention to innovation in Francophone and English-speaking Africa, which is found in sectors such as healthcare, logistics, fintech services, retail, food and agriculture, and mobility. Pan-African firms of similar size that have reached the first close of their various funds in recent months include Launch Africa, Oui Capital, Platform Ventures, Micro traction and Google African Investment Fund.

Asked when Django hopes to reach the final, Bâ stressed, “it’s not market standard to announce final closing dates, so we don’t plan to go public about it; however, it is realistic to aim for 2023.”

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