On March 15th, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an investment agreement with Verod-Kepple Africa Ventures SCSp (VKAV Fund), which is managed by Verod-Kepple Africa Partners (VKAP). JICA’s investment will be used to fund start-up companies that create innovative solutions to social challenges in Africa, in areas such as financial inclusion, healthcare, and climate change.
Africa’s population is expected to reach approximately 2.4 billion by 2050. On the other hand, many of its countries are highly dependent on primary commodities such as oil, minerals, and agricultural products, and their low value-added industrial structure is a challenge for growth. For this reason, the African Union has identified the transformation of industrial structure as an important item on its “Agenda 2063” to achieve sustainable economic growth in Africa. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) 8 Tunis Declaration, the outcome document of TICAD 8 in August 2022, also calls for the realization of structural transformation for sustainable economic growth and development through start-up-centered and social solutions-oriented businesses. In fact, more and more start-up companies with innovative digital technologies and business models provide high value-added services and contribute to solving social challenges in Africa.
VKAP was formed in 2021 as a joint venture between Kepple Africa Ventures (KAV), a Japanese venture capital firm, and Verod Holdings (Verod), an African growth capital private equity firm. KAV has been investing in early-stage companies across Africa, while Verod has been investing in growth-stage companies through three existing funds, mainly in Nigeria and Ghana. VKAV is now led by three partners, Mr. Satoshi Shinada, Mr. Ryosuke Yamawaki, and Ms. Ory Okolloh, in a team that combines the best of Japanese and African expertise, local market knowledge and networks, and a hands-on approach to value creation and impact. The VKAV Fund will leverage the accumulated knowhow of the two companies to invest in start-ups across Africa, focusing on early-stage companies that are working to solve social challenges in the region. The investment will support start-up companies seeking to solve social problems in Africa through the venture capital fund and will contribute to SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Goals 8 (Decent work and economic growth), 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), and 17 (Partnerships for the goals).
JICA has been supporting seed-stage start-ups in Africa through Project NINJA (Next Innovation with Japan) and Home Grown Solutions (HGS) via the African Union Development Agency. This investment, however, will expand JICA’s support to include financial assistance for early-stage start-ups, and is expected to enhance the collaboration between Japanese companies and start-ups in Africa. JICA will continue to support start-up companies and funds that are working to solve social challenges in developing regions, not just in Africa, but throughout the entire world.