Ex-CommTech Minister leads charge for startups amid $40m funding  

Ex-CommTech Minister leads charge for startups amid $40m funding  

Ex-CommTech Minister leads charge for startups amid $40m funding  

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Dr Omobola Johnson, pioneer Minister of Communication Technology for Nigeria is leading a new charge to grow local startups following a $40 million funding for her venture capital.

Johnson, who is Lead General Partner for TLcom, an international venture capital with Nigeria office sited in Lagos, says they have raised the $40 million seed funds that will focus on technology-enabled services and innovation for entrepreneurs across Africa, including Nigeria.

The ex-Minister of CommTech for Nigeria who broke the cheery news to journalists at the weekend says the objective of the fund is to not  just to support exceptional entrepreneur with ambitious plans, but will also help them build sustainable business models and skills.

TLcom’s team straddling London, Lagos and Nairobi offers unique opportunities for African entrepreneurs to work closely with their portfolio companies and access their global network of co-investors, advisors and technology expertise, she says. “TLcom  offers a great opportunity to our investor partners and to global private capital to achieve significant returns and support world class technology entrepreneurs who are working in Africa to create solutions for local and global markets’’ according to Dr Johnson, the Senior Partner at the Lagos office of TLcom.

According to her, “we look forward to finalising our first deals and working closely with African entrepreneurs to help them reach their full potentials.

“We are not just about the money we are deploying. It is more about helping entrepreneur to build a good business model and the four of us are coming with some fairly significant business building experience’’, she adds.

Johnson says the fund has now reached its first close of $40 million of the $100 million target with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) committing US$10 million each, alongside other African, American and European corporate investors and family offices such as FBN Capital, and Silicon Valley-based Bob King, founder of the Stanford’s SEED Institute.

Technology Times file photo shows Dr Omobola Johnson speaking at Tech Plus 2016

Johnson says the fund has now reached its first close of $40 million of the $100 million target with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) committing US$10 million each, alongside other African, American and European corporate investors and family offices such as FBN Capital, and Silicon Valley-based Bob King, founder of the Stanford’s SEED Institute.

“Other investors are currently working with a view to join the final close of the Fund scheduled in June 2018.’’ TLcom will make equity investments from early to growth stage in the $500,000 to $10 million range, focusing on fast growing scalable companies leveraging the high penetration of mobile cutting across corporate verticals such as financial services, commerce, energy, health and education, she told the journalist in Lagos.

“TLcom is the first international venture capital fund focused exclusively on technology enabled solutions and innovation serving sub Saharan Africa (SSA). The Fund will provide capital and business building support to world class African entrepreneurs developing technology driven solutions to the Continent’s biggest problems.’’

Also speaking at the press conference, Maurizio Caio, Nairobi-based Founder and Managing Partner of TLcom says in recent years the TLcom team has invested heavily in African VC opportunities.

“We have opened offices in Nairobi and Lagos, looked at hundreds of tech entrepreneurs in Africa, and successfully invested and exited the best among the first generation of African mobile start-ups, such as Upstream (acquired by private equity group Actis) and Movirtu (acquired by BlackBerry).”

According to Caio, “while the Africa tech ecosystem is still maturing, we don’t see why Africa is any different from other tech investment opportunities across the globe in terms of the magnitude of the investment upside.

“From the high quality of entrepreneurs to the opportunity of building companies serving large markets that are highly valued by global acquirers and capital markets, all the ingredients are now in place for Africa to become the world’s next attractive tech investing destination”, he adds.

Corroborating what the two earlier speakers have said Ido Sum, the London-based Partner of TLcom says that “TLcom believes that African scalable tech enterprises represent not only a massive value generation opportunity, but also a unique development tool that can result in job creation and much wider inclusion. Low income segments that still represent the vast majority of local demand can access many basic services only when technology enables affordable solutions for consumers and SMEs.”

Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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