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Catalyst Fund announces first close of $40M cleantech fund for African startups

Catalyst Fund has closed the first round of its $40 million venture capital fund and accelerator. The fund will be invested into African cleantech startups.

Catalyst Fund announces first close of $40M cleantech fund for African startups
Catalyst Fund executives: Maxime Bayen, Maelis Carraro and Karen Serem Waithaka

Pre-seed VC fund and accelerator, Catalyst Fund today announced the first close of its $40 million fund to invest in climate-focused startups in Africa. The initial close is worth $8.6 million with investments from FSD Africa Investments (FSDAi), Cisco Foundation, USAID Prosper Africa, and Andrew Bredenkamp.

“We wanted to build our latest fund just focused on backing tech startups that build a climate resilient future. We are so focused on climate adaptation solutions across sectors, and the goal is to make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” says Maelis Carraro, Catalyst Fund managing partner. “The first closure of our venture fund is an incredible milestone because very few accelerators that come from philanthropy are able to do this transition.”

Using this fund, the VC firm plans to invest in 40 startups, starting with half of that this year. Per TechCrunch, Catalyst Fund will sign $200,000 cheques for pre-seed startups, with a $200,000 follow-on investments and $500,000 and $1.5 million for seed and Series A rounds respectively.

“Our goal is to back mission-driven founders that share our vision of a world where every individual has the tools and opportunities they need to thrive. From agritech to insurtech, waste management, disaster response, and carbon finance, these startups display finance, tech, and business model innovations that will help communities better adapt to climate impacts and grow their resilience,” Maelis Carraro, said at the time.

Earlier this year, Catalyst Fund invested $2 million investment into 10 startups accelerating Africa’s adaptation and resilience to climate change. This was the inaugural cohort of a $30 million VC fund that is anchored by FSD Africa, a financial sector development agency. Each of the 10 startups was offered $100,000 of equity investments as well as $100,000 of hands-on venture-building support.

“Despite climate change being a global reality, Africa is the most vulnerable continent to its adverse effects, even though the region contributes a mere 3% to global CO2 emissions. I strongly believe that startups and entrepreneurs, in general, will be a critical part of the solution in making the continent more resilient to the negative effects of climate change,” says Maxime Bayen, Catalyst Fund's operating partner.

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