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Silicon Valley Veterans Launch $10 Million Seed Fund - in Africa

The news about how big the African mobile development is has also reached Silicon Valley. A group of experienced tech guys with dollar signs in their eyes has now founded Savannah Fund, which was launched in Nairobi, Kenya last week and will be based there too. The fund aims to find and invest in early stage, high growth web and mobile startups addressing the Sub-Saharan Africa market. The new fund will typically make investments in the region of $25,000 to $500,000.

The fund was founded by Erik Hersman, a prominent blogger and technologist, co-founder of Ushahidi and founder of iHub, Paul Bragiel, a serial tech entrepreneur and Mbwana Alliy, a Tanzanian national and the founder of Yellow Masai, an online travel resource, and has worked at and advised several Silicon Valley and African-based startups. Savannah Fund is funded by several limited partners from Kenya and Silicon Valley. Some of the fund's investors include Roger Dickey of the social network gaming giant Zynga, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper and and Kenyan mobile software entrepreneur Karanja Macharia, founder of Mobile Planet, a wireless application service provider. The fund's founders collectively bring to the table years of seasoned experience in Africa's tech scene.

Africa mobile

It is expected that services within mobile will generate almost $30 billion in 2016 which is a doubling of the present level.

Erik Hersman, says on his blog that: "The idea is to bring the Silicon Valley-style accelerator model to Africa, seeing what needs to be tweaked to make it work for our region. It's a small fund at $10m, with most of the activity focused on classes of 5 startups at a time being brought on board and invested in. They'll get $25,000 for 15% equity, and have 3-6 months to prove themselves. Those who fail either pivot or leave, those who gain traction have a chance at follow-on funding. A portion of the fund will be invested at the $100-200k range where we'll look at follow-on funding for the startups in our program, and also at other high-growth tech companies in the region."

Savannah's accelerator program is open for the first class of 5 startups later this year. East African entrepreneurs can apply at www.savannah.vc/accelerator

You can also read about African trends here or about mobile money.

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