Kenya’s tech companies to get Sh5bn PE financing

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Fourteen technology start-ups in Kenya are in line to get a share of Sh5.1 billion that private equity investors have set aside for buying mobile app firms.

The 14 companies are among 40 in Africa that have been shortlisted for capital financing at a pan-African mobile apps pitching conference that opened in Nairobi on Thursday.

Each start-up stands to win up to Sh255.7 million (USD3 million) to scale up ideas into profitable enterprises in exchange of equity.

Kenya’s software developers were thrust to global prominence after local firms like Virtual City and Taka Taka Solutions Ltd won global awards.

Virtual City won the USD1 million Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge award for innovators.

“We are looking at the making of technology billionaires in dollar terms from the continent and creating massive job opportunities as they grow,” said Harry Hare, the executive director of DEMO Africa, a forum for tech investors that is hosting the Nairobi.

The conference brings together angel investors, venture capital firms, business executives and academics from around the world.

The 14 firms will highlight applications targeting education like eLimu and MPrep; mobile commerce solutions such as iPay, Lipisha, MyOrder, mPayer, Hewani, mVerified, Sasa Africa; and consumer platforms which include mTracker, M-Kazi, Kytabu, Dash2do and CrowdPesa.

The pitching is backed by global tech firms Nokia and Microsoft as well as multilateral lenders Africa Development Bank (AfDB), USAID and the World Bank.

Savannah Fund, owned by a group of African and American investors, this year launched in Nairobi an Sh840 million (USD10 million) seed capital fund targeting start-ups in the mobile and web space. Venture capitalist, 88mph is also keen on deals. 

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