TLcom secures first close of $150m pan-African tech fund


Africa-focused venture capital firm TLcom Capital has announced a first close of US$70 million for its US$150 million tech fund, firmly positioning it to become the largest independent VC firm fully dedicated to the continent. 

Founded in 1999 and with offices in Lagos, Nairobi and London, TLcom has US$350 million of assets under management across Africa and Europe, and in February 2020 announced the closing of the $71mn TIDE Africa Fund, dedicated to technology and innovation for Sub-Saharan Africa at all stages of venture capital. 

The TLcom portfolio includes Twiga Foods, Andela, uLesson and Kobo360, among others, and it has completed successful exits, with Upstream acquired by Actis and Movirtu acquired by BlackBerry. The TIDE Africa Fund delivers capital as part of a larger strategic, operational and financial support to entrepreneurs. 

With a first close in line with the total size of its TIDE Africa Fund closed in 2020, TLcom’s second fund sees participation from Allianz, the world’s largest insurance company, through AfricaGrow, its joint venture with DEG Impact (German Investment Corporation), as well as a host of new and returning investors including Bertelsmann, King Philanthropies, the TLcom team and FBNQuest. It also includes major DFIs such as CDC Group, IFC, Proparco and Swedfund. A second close of the fund is expected later in 2022.

With its new fund, TLcom will expand its existing focus on fast-growth, tech-enabled African startups to Egypt, as well as strengthen its long-standing presence across East and West Africa. With ticket sizes ranging from US$500,000 to US$15 million, TLcom expects to add an additional 20 early-stage startups to its portfolio, with an emphasis on seed and Series A.

It will target entrepreneurs tackling some of the continent’s most complex challenges in sectors including fintech, mobility, agriculture, healthcare, education and e-commerce.

“Since the closing of our previous fund, African tech has secured more high-value financing rounds, exits and M&As than ever before and this is only just the beginning. It is becoming increasingly evident that our sector has broken into a new era of maturity driven by very strong business fundamentals that African founders are demonstrating not only in the fintech space, but across a huge number of the continent’s largely underserved markets,” said Maurizio Caio, founder and managing partner at TLcom.

“As we partner with some of the world’s leading global investors for our new fund, this is not only an endorsement of the massive value generation upside on the continent, but also of our proven track record in identifying and supporting entrepreneurs successfully winning and redefining Africa’s key verticals. In order to contribute to unlocking the next phase of Africa’s huge economic upside, we’ll be mobilizing our new fund to strengthen our partnership with African founders, with a special emphasis on female entrepreneurs, as well as our role as the leading local partner of choice for global VCs increasingly looking at Africa.”