East Africa

Novastar raises $108M to invest in startups in Africa

Novastar held the final closing of Novastar Ventures Africa Fund II (NVAF II) with total commitments of $108 million. Now managing more than $200 million of capital, Novastar is one of the largest platforms dedicated to financing early and growth-stage businesses in Africa.

While Novastar’s first fund was limited to East Africa, NVAF II expands its geographic reach from East to West Africa in search of founders building breakthrough businesses in the region.

With offices in Nairobi and Lagos, Novastar backs start-ups that address proven demand for basic goods and services with innovative business models that widen access, improve quality, and lower cost for the mass market in these emerging economies. The fund targets businesses
where positive social impact for low-income households is a natural byproduct of their commercial success.

Co-founder and Managing Partner Andrew Carruthers notes: “While Novastar now manages more than $200 million of capital, we don’t think of ourselves primarily as fund managers. The focus and real interest in our work is partnering with high-capacity, ambitious entrepreneurs to help them bring their ideas to life and multiply their impact. The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously compounded the significant challenges for entrepreneurs building businesses in our territories. The strongest entrepreneurs will seize the opportunities that arise during the crisis, and we expect to see more entrepreneurial talent released from ‘safe jobs’ that are no longer safe.”

Novastar’s first fund of $80 million together with a $12.5 million co-investment facility has backed 15 companies, each reflecting the VC’s focus on mass-market scale potential, business model innovation and
outstanding entrepreneurial leadership. While that fund continues to invest follow-on capital into the successful businesses in its portfolio, NVAF II targets new early and growth stage businesses in East and
West Africa.

As with its first fund, NVAF II is a multi-round investor with the scale and flexibility to tailor support to each portfolio company’s stage of development, from seed to scale. Seeing strong deal flow in both East and West Africa, NVAF II has already led or co-led financing rounds in
three companies:



mPharma, a technology-driven healthcare company creating efficiencies in the supply chain for quality drugs through its Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) model, driving down costs to patients through its rapidly growing retail channels and partnerships. mPharma now operates in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Sure Chill, a platform cooling technology company that enables refrigerators to maintain a constant temperature without constant power supply. The company is adapting its technology to supply a wide
range of off-grid and weak-grid applications in Africa.

Metro Africa Xpress (MAX), a Nigerian-based on-demand motorcycle ride sharing and logistics business, making mobility and transportation safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable. NVAF II benefited from the strong backing of the primary institutional investors in Novastar’s maiden
venture fund who matched or increased their commitments.

Leading private asset manager’s AXA Impact Fund II joined with several private family offices and leading European development finance institutions CDC Group, European Investment Bank, Dutch Good Growth Fund, FMO, Proparco, Norfund and SIFEM to capitalize the fund.

Co-founder and Managing Partner Steve Beck commented: “We are grateful for our investing partners who have helped us capitalize NVAF II at the beginning of this difficult period. Many of the world’s most innovative, successful businesses today were born out of recessions and crises of various kinds. Our investment strategy is well suited to this environment. We back breakthrough businesses that serve the common good; ones that will have staying power and profoundly positive impact precisely because they are innovating ways to address basic needs and the biggest challenges in our region.”

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