Equator, a climate-tech venture capital firm focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, announces the initial close of its first fund with approximately $40 million USD in commitments to support Seed and Series A-stage, tech-enabled ventures in the sectors of energy, agriculture and mobility through an overlooked phase in their funding journey.
Africa accounts for less than 3% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to date, but Africans will be among the world’s most affected by the negative impacts of climate change. Equator was founded with the intention of accelerating an equitable climate transition in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing much-needed capital and active hands-on support to climate-tech ventures at a critical juncture in their start-up journey. The global venture capital firm with teams in Nairobi, Lagos, London, and Colorado, seeks to invest in high-growth, ready-to-scale ventures that are driven by technology and business model innovation in their quest to address material economic and sustainability challenges in the region.
Equator has assembled the perfect combination of partners to set its portfolio companies up for longer-term success. Notable investors in the fund include British International Investment (BII), the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), UK charity Shell Foundation and impact investor DOEN Participaties.
“Our partners are some of the most experienced and well-connected investors in Sub-Saharan Africa and within our target sectors,” said Nijhad Jamal, managing partner of Equator, previously of Moja Capital, BlackRock and Acumen Fund. “They are highly committed to providing expertise, networks and capital directly to our portfolio companies, which is a game-changer for early-stage start-ups.”
Despite being one of the newer funds on the scene, Equator’s team has decades of experience both investing in and operating successful ventures in Sub-Saharan Africa and across a variety of sustainability-focused sectors.
“We have a unique and diverse team of technologists, operators and investors united by our obsession to drive momentum in the campaign for climate action in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Jamal. “Our deep in-market presence, combined with our global experience and reach, allows us to forecast trends and develop theses that underpin our investments in proven technology and business model innovation to address local market challenges.”
Equator has already backed some of the region’s most prominent early-stage ventures, including Apollo Agriculture, Odyssey Energy Solutions, Roam and SunCulture.
“We are seeing a significant gap in start-up support between the initial burst of pre-seed funding and the recent influx of capital from larger, later-stage investors,” said Dr. Morgan DeFoort, partner at Equator and founder of Factor[e] Ventures. “This led us to identify a specific opportunity for Equator to provide both funding, as well as hands-on assistance, to Seed and Series A-stage climate-tech companies focused on Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Equator has the benefit of leveraging support from Factor[e] Ventures, an organization of venture builders and pre-seed investors. While both companies operate independently, Equator and Factor[e] collaborate on sourcing and diligencing deals and also share a post-investment support platform to provide value to portfolio companies as they scale.
“The reality is that capital alone is only part of the problem. Ventures also need highly active and engaged investors to help them reach the growth stage of their trajectory,” added DeFoort.
“I’m thrilled to be able to draw on talent and technical expertise from Factor[e] which provides Equator with incredible access and resource from across the Continent and from all over the world,” said Jamal. “Together, being thesis-driven investors and having all been operators ourselves, we closely understand the sectors in which we are working and we are well equipped to help start-ups through scaling challenges to drive attractive financial returns.”