Sherpa launch $1M Basecamp Fund to support pre-seed African startups

Aaron Fu, ex-iROKO CCO Nikhil Patel and ex-Uber launcher in Niger and Kenya Alastair Curtis have launched a $1 million Basecamp Fund to support pre-seed African startups.

Sherpa launch $1M Basecamp Fund to support pre-seed African startups
Team Sherpa

Sherpa Africa Partners has launched a $1 million fund to support pre-seed African startups. The new investment vehicle is dubbed Basecamp Fund.

Aaron Fu (Managing Partner), Nikhil Patel (Partner) and Alastair Curtis (Partner) launched Sherpa Africa Partners to support the growth of African startups from pre-seed to seed stage. It has invested in Nigerian fintech company OnePipe — an API aggregator, and Ghanian Boost Technology which is enabling efficient distribution of fast moving consumer goods.

Basecamp Fund aims to invest between $25,000 and $50,000 in African startups that usually raise less than $500,000. And Sherpa would work with startups over six to nine months before committing to a follow-on funding. It would initially focus on startups in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa.

Mike Quinn, co-founder and CEO of Boost Technology, said: "Sherpa was one of the first to believe and back us when there was nothing. They brought other investors to the table, and have been helping us to design country entry strategies and develop stronger hiring framework".

"We're startup operators in Africa, backing startup founders in Africa", Sherpa says on its website. "Backed by founders in Africa, startup operators and global investors".

Tidbit: Sherpa Africa Partners is not affiliated with the American venture capital firm Sherpa Capital.

Aaron is also the head of growth at Catalyst Fund. Nikhil, formerly the chief commercial officer at iROKO, is also the chief growth officer at Watu Credit — an asset financing and lending products provider in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. Alastair, who built and executed the launch operations plans of Uber in Nigeria and Kenya, is the general manager of Wheels in Southern California, USA.

Sherpa investors include Josh Sandler (Co-founder of Lori), Sajid Radham (CEO of Digital Healthcare Solutions) Marianne Mwaniki (former vice chairman of Visa Foundation), Nnena Nkongho (Principal at DiGAME Investment Company), Raja Al Mazrouei (Executive Vice President of Dubai International Finance Centre — Fintech Hive), Mia von Koschitzky-Kimani (Partner at Persistent), Varun Mittal (Partner at EY), Jim Chu (CEO of Untapped), and Johan Bosini (Partner at Quona Capital).

"More than a venture fund, we are a supportive and collaborative global community of capital, expertise and experience who has built and operated some of the strongest startups in Africa, Asia and across the world", Aaron told Tech In Asia.

Sherpa focuses on four key areas: market insights, strategic partnerships, talent and follow-on capital. "We've learnt these four key areas are critical to pre-seed startup success in Africa", the venture capital firm says. "Every journey is different. So we will map out and tailor your path with us post-investment and bring in our core team, advisors and partners to walk with you on your growth path".

Sherpa also aims to accelerate partnerships between African startups and those in the Asia Pacific. Examples of such partnerships include Singapore-based Fomo Pay's collaboration with Kenya's Wapi Pay and Red Dot ties with Finserv Africa.

Alexander Bashian, the programme manager of social impact partnerships at Facebook, chairs Sherpa's investment committee. Other members of the committee are Lexi Novitske (Managing Partner at Acuity Venture), Kamal Bhattacharya (CEO of Advancity), Emilian Popa (CEO of Ilara Health), and Grant Brooke (CEO of Twiga Foods).

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