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Saviu Ventures gets €12 million first close for Francophone Africa entrepreneurs.

Image Credits: Saviu Ventures
Image Credits: Saviu Ventures

Saviu Ventures, a venture capital firm focusing on Francophone African businesses, has secured €12 million in funding for its second fund from private investors, including family offices from Kenya and France.

The venture capital business wants to invest mainly in Francophone African firms, with the fund expected to conclude between €30 million and €50 million. It is rumored that to reach the goal, it will be in discussions with other parties, including institutional investors.

Benoit Delestre and Samuel Touboul founded Saviu Ventures, which has been involved in the Francophone Africa startup scene since deploying its first €10 million fund in 2018.

Although the venture capital firm is sector-neutral and invests in early-stage firms, it is particularly interested in fintech, health tech, and climate tech companies with its current fund, and it is less interested in e-mobility, e-commerce, and e-logistics.

“We will continue to invest primarily in Francophone startups, as we did with our first fund, but we will also consider investing in startups from East, Southern, and North Africa that are eager to expand into Francophone Africa,” Delestre told TechCrunch.

With its second fund, Saviu intends to invest between €500,000 and €3 million in 15 to 20 post-revenue firms. According to Delestre and Touboul, venture capital firms look for “sustainable companies” and provide financial investment and business development help to these organizations. The second fund has already invested in three companies: Workday, an HR payroll service; Rubyx, a Senegalese digital lending SaaS company; and Waspito, a Cameroonian health startup.

“We’re searching for companies that can survive. We are not interested in companies or business strategies that persist in burning money; thus, we don’t want to target unicorns. Touboul says, “We believe in helping talented entrepreneurs build long-lasting businesses.”

Saviu’s initial fund invested in 12 businesses, 82% in the Francophone area, ranging from €250,000 to €500,000. The businesses in its portfolio include the e-commerce platform Anka (Afrikrea), the Ivorian neobank Julaya, the Kenyan digital lender Zanifu, the eyewear shop Lapaire, which operates in the Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo, and the Senegalese e-logistics firm Paps.

Saviu is one of the first venture capital companies focusing only on the Francophone area. Compared to the more developed Anglophone countries, the Francophone ecosystem continues to draw VCs due to its lower level of competition, enormous market potential, and high-quality and more affordable deals.

Outside of the “big four” (South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya), the Francophone area remains VCs’ next target for investment. The area accounted for 49% of deals and 38% of financing for the rest of Africa in 2018, according to the 2022 Partech study. Notably, equity investing in the region increased by 2% to $527 million in 2022—a massive 695% year-over-year growth—but stayed almost unchanged in 2021.

The ecosystem was far less established when there were fewer entrepreneurs and no incubators in francophone Africa in 2018. Although it’s still far from what you see in South Africa or Kenya, Delestre remarked that things have improved significantly.

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