VC firm based in Paris Briga I have observed the maturity of Africa’s technology ecosystem over the years. From getting less than $1 billion in venture capital annually to a A record amount of $6 billionThere has also been an increase in high-growth companies, from one unicorn to seven within three years.

Now the venture capitalist wants to put some of his own money behind what he sees, with a $75 million fund to invest in early-stage startups in Africa. It had secured commitments for about 70% of capital in the first close, the company revealed to TechCrunch.

Since entering the venture capital space in 2015, Breega has raised four funds in total: a seed fund (€45 million), a second seed fund (€110 million), First Project Fund (106 million euros), and A Second project fund (250 million euros). In less than a decade, the French investor, who has a portfolio of more than 100 startups in 15 countries, has reached $700 million in assets under management.

Africa Seed I is Breega’s sixth fund (including a third European seed fund the company is currently raising) in nine years but the first with a mandate outside Europe. Its launch coincides with the opening of two new offices in Lagos and Cape Town, two major hubs in Africa’s technology ecosystem. These offices join Albriga’s existing locations in Paris, London and Barcelona, ​​strengthening its presence across the EMEA region.

Breega prides itself on being a founders’ fund for founders, investing across the pre-seed and Series A stages. “Our core DNA is about supporting founders where innovation flourishes and opportunities are enormous,” said the co-founder and CEO. “We bring our operational expertise to them because every single In our team it was on the other side as founders or operators.” Ben Marill In an interview with TechCrunch.

This approach, combined with a dedicated team for expansion and portfolio support, has propelled Breega to become one of the fastest-growing venture capital firms in Europe, notes Marill. The aim is to replicate this success in Africa.

As such, launching a fund for early-stage startups stems from a desire to capitalize on opportunities on the continent. What better way to do this than by having local partners who understand market dynamics and can make informed investment decisions? Major companies that focus on Africa and have European roots, e.g Partic And Northern Lights22running a similar strategy.

Melvin Lubega And Although Vanero Dada He leads the Briga Fund for Africa, which has received support from institutions including Bpifrance and the Dutch entrepreneurship development bank, FMO. Both partners bring decades of entrepreneurial and operational experience; Before joining Breega, Lubega co-founded edtech unicorn Go1, while Faniro-Dada was the CEO of Endeavor Nigeria.

Prega plans to invest between $100,000 and $2 million in startups in the four largest African markets – Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya – as well as French-speaking African markets, including Morocco, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Africa-focused venture capital firm has already backed nine startups, including… Nomida, Home Energya partner, Season, KwaraKochbit, and SavaHe aims to make at least 40 investments from this first fund.

In an interview with TechCrunch, the partners discussed Albrega’s interest in Africa, the company’s investment strategies, local market dynamics, and the potential of untapped markets on the continent. The interview has been edited for brevity.

TC: $75 million is the first big fund in any market, especially in Africa. If I understand correctly, the fund is for pre-seed and seed stage startups. But aside from the money, what value does the company offer that founders might not find in other companies?

Melvin: All partners and members of the investment team at Brega are former founders and operators. We know firsthand what it’s like to raise capital, build a business, face failure, and endure tough times. Reflecting on my experience, I found it difficult to find African investors who built businesses without raising money. That’s why our goal is to become the investors we hope to have as we build our business. Many entrepreneurs appreciate having a sparring partner who’s been there and done that before. We want to be the first to vet startups, and we come in with very strong, leading seed and pre-seed rounds.

More than a quarter of our team is dedicated solely to supporting our portfolio companies across different areas, such as go-to-market strategy, talent management, governance, brand, and communications. This commitment allows us to provide more than just capital; We provide our entrepreneurs with experienced sparring partners who have international experience and knowledge of the ecosystem. We find that this is not only important for our entrepreneurs, but also allows us to derive significant performance from our European experience.

TC: What sectors is Albrija keen on in Africa? And why?

actually: Our focus is on industries that can have a transformative impact in addressing current and future challenges across the continent, especially with the expected growth in population, such as fintech, healthtech, proptech, logistics, and edtech.

Melvin: Additionally, you can think of it like a Venn diagram: we target areas that deliver the most significant impact, that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and where Prega has significant experience from supporting more than 100 companies. What is particularly useful is that our insights from successes in Europe and the United States guide our approach in Africa, helping us identify where impactful opportunities align with our expertise.

TC: It’s good that you touched on that because I’m curious how Prega strikes a balance and avoids the trap of supporting US and European style companies in Africa.

actually: It boils down to having local partners on the ground who understand the challenges faced by different markets. Thanks to my extensive experience in Nigeria and Melvin’s experience in South Africa, our mentality has not changed. We do not invest in companies because they are similar to their American or European counterparts. Our focus is on solutions that solve the unique challenges of Africa and its diverse markets. Although there are some similarities, we intentionally support solutions tailored to local needs.

One of the advantages of Albrija is the experience of our European team. It helps us understand that Africa may be in the same place as Europe was decades ago. They have seen this evolution, and we are already following a similar path. This perspective helps us realize that it is a journey and evolution taking into account the current state of the market and the solutions required today.

LR: Ben Marel (co-founder and CEO of Breega), Tosin Faniro-Dada (partner) and Melvyn Lubega (partner).
Image credits: Briga

son: I think what Tosin said is very important. I spend a lot of time with our team in Africa, so it’s not like we’ve just put a team and finance there that operates independently of our main operations. No, it’s fully integrated into our culture, team dynamics and overall company strategy. We recognize that these markets are unique, and we do not expect to support the same types of companies everywhere. We are fully aware of this and apply our knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work for us.

TC: What is Albriga’s approach to investing in certain markets versus others in Africa?

Melvin: We do not want to invest only in the big four countries (Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya) because we realize that talent is equally distributed. That’s why we have investments in Uganda, Guinea and other markets such as Francophone Africa, which is particularly important because of our strong roots in those regions. In addition, we are committed to supporting and nurturing ecosystems through our investments. As a pan-African fund, we must take this broad approach.

TC: These days, venture capital firms are looking to be more pan-African and invest in largely untapped markets, and in your view, this approach is vital in finding the next wave. However, such gains are rare, so why prioritize breadth over depth in the largest markets that have the greatest potential for scalable companies through venture capital?

Melvin: The truth is that Africa gets 1% of venture capital, but we have 18% of the population. From this perspective, our role as Briga, as a first-class European and African investor, is also to be able to go where others frankly cannot go because we believe there is value to be created there.

If you think about the ecosystems that we serve, there are some areas that don’t get venture capital but are still very attractive. Also, because we are betting on the continent for the long term, we are very intentional in saying that our role as investors is also to stimulate certain ecosystems.

And so, to your point, you know, before Wave, people weren’t talking much about Senegal, and that’s what it takes as an investor to understand, beyond following the herd, what good investments look like fundamentally at the early stage. And being able to leverage that experience to go there.

TC: Do you think this model has worked for Breega after nearly a decade of investing in Europe?

son: I think he did. The advantage of people starting a business from smaller countries is that they usually start thinking globally from day one. These are the founders we are thinking about now.

The key question is not just about talent, but about the market these founders are entering. Establishing a large-scale business in a small country is rare, so having a multi-country strategy is crucial. We are passionate about supporting founders in small African countries as long as they have a plan for international expansion. This approach has worked for us in Europe, and we are applying the same strategy in Africa.

TC: I would like to know where you think the African venture capital landscape is now in terms of co-investment opportunities.

Melvin: Many African-only investors or investors in specific countries lean towards their existing portfolio companies but less so into new ones. By the same token, many do not have the capital needed to spread. When you see follow-on rounds and a series of extension rounds, you see many smaller funds struggling to participate meaningfully. I think this is also a function of the times.

actually: I believe that familiar names are still active in investing across different stages and markets. However, they seem to be exercising more caution now compared to the past few years, especially regarding the entrepreneurs they choose to invest in.

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