Catalyst Fund invests $2M into 10 African cleantech-focused startups
In July 2022, tech accelerator and pre-seed venture fund, Catalyst Fund, managed by BFA Global, announced its anchor close with partner FSD Africa for their new $30 million VC fund to expand its presence into Africa. In line with its ambition, the Fund today announced that it has invested $2 million into 10 African startups building solutions to improve the resilience of climate-vulnerable communities on the continent.
This is the inaugural cohort of the new $30 million VC fund that is anchored by FSD Africa, a financial sector development agency. Each of the 10 startups will be offered $100,000 of equity investments as well as $100,000 of hands-on venture-building support.
“Our goal is to back mission-driven founders that share our vision of a world where every individual has the tools and opportunities they need to thrive. From agritech to insurtech, waste management, disaster response, and carbon finance, these startups display finance, tech, and business model innovations that will help communities better adapt to climate impacts and grow their resilience,” Maelis Carraro, Managing Partner of Catalyst Fund told Benjamindada.com.
These companies will join Catalyst Fund’s existing portfolio of 61 startups across emerging markets and receive capital, bespoke and expert-led venture-building support, and direct connections with investors, corporate innovators and talent networks that can help them scale. Catalyst Fund’s portfolio companies have raised over $640 million in follow-on funding to date, and currently serve more than 14 million individuals and MSMEs globally.
Meet Catalyst Fund’s $30 million fund inaugural cohort
Three of the selected startups for the Catalyst Fund are Nigerian, and two each are from Egypt and Kenya. Meanwhile, Morocco, Uganda and Senegal are represented by one startup each.
- Agro Supply [Uganda]: a mobile layaway system that helps farmers save money gradually using their mobile phones and to cash out in order to purchase farm inputs such as hybrid (drought-resistant) seeds, from maize to sorghum, sunflower and soybean during the planting season.
- Assuraf [Senegal]: a digital insurtech platform offering end-users access to a range of insurance products (e.g. agriculture, automotive, health, housing, natural disasters) from over 20+ insurance companies with a fully integrated claims management system.
- Bekia [Egypt]: a tech-enabled waste collection solution enabling companies and households to exchange their waste (plastic, paper, electronics, metals, cooking oil) against a financial incentive paid on a digital wallet.
- Eight Medical [Nigeria]: a cloud-native Emergency Medical Services (EMS) platform that provides on-demand urgent care when and where it is needed. This “911 for Africa” connects emergency medical responders on motorcycles to users in distress in 10 minutes or less, including for climate-induced crises.
- Farm to Feed [Kenya]: a food supply chain company that is providing a digitally-enabled solution to food loss/waste. Their climate-smart solution focuses on providing a market for imperfect and surplus produce from farmers, contributing to food security and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
- Farmz2U [Nigeria]: an agtech enterprise driving sustainable agriculture. Through Farmz2U, farmers can access personalized farming advice (especially on regenerative farming practices), affordable credit, quality and traceable inputs, and direct buyers for their harvest.
- Octavia Carbon [Kenya]: the Global South’s first Direct Air Capture (DAC) company that is building the world’s lowest-cost DAC hub. Octavia is currently building DAC machinery to capture carbon from the air for resale as either carbon dioxide or carbon credits to off-takers.
- PaddyCover [Nigeria]: works with established insurers and digital platforms to design and offer bespoke products via their platform that facilitates flexible insurance packages, including health, life and, in the future, index-based crop insurance. The offerings are built into the lifestyle touchpoints of the customer, either as a convenience or as complementary value-adds.
- Sand to Green [Morocco]: transforms deserts into cultivable land using agroforestry methodology and a solar-powered desalination system to design climate-smart regenerative farms.
- VAIS [Egypt]: a precision agtech startup committed to climate resilience and food security by providing data intelligence to farms via their FarmGATE application, which is powered by proprietary artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML)-based virtual field probing (VFP) technology, to enable better use of water and other farm inputs to produce better yields.
“At FSD Africa, we believe that by harnessing the power of tech, and specifically fintech innovation, we can help to spur the development of climate resilience solutions for Africa, thereby helping deliver on COP27’s core themes of adaptation and implementation,” Juliet Munro, Director of Digital Economy at FSD Africa, said in a statement seen by Benjamindada.com. “These companies are strong examples of the innovation we need to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities across the continent.”
According to Carraro, “four billion people worldwide are currently vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and we’ll need over $300 billion to finance adaptation and resilience efforts by 2030. In Africa alone, private finance share in the total financing of climate adaptation efforts is not more than 3% ($11.4 billion) today. Seven times that amount will be needed annually until 2030. line with our mission to support entrepreneurs who use technology, finance, and data innovation to tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities of our time, we have expanded our mandate to invest in enterprises that address the most pressing global challenge: climate change.”
“We will specifically invest in solutions that build resilience across three verticals: climate-smart financial services, climate-smart livelihoods, and climate-smart essential services. There is a lot of opportunity in these three areas and African innovators have the potential to create the world’s leading innovations to tackle it,” she added.
“COP27 in Egypt this year called for more private sector financing to fill the over $330 billion funding gap for adaptation and resilience by 2030. It also called for more local innovations to support communities in building resilience to climate impacts. The Catalyst Fund’s new cohort exemplifies what these innovative climate solutions for the most vulnerable could look like. We are also thrilled to be backing companies in Francophone Africa and Northern Africa for the first time. We intend to back many more startups like them across the African continent in the years to come,” said Aaron Fu, Partner at Catalyst Fund.