Kepple Africa Ventures
We are a seed-stage fund that invests in early-stage companies in various verticals across Africa, and helps connect entrepreneurs to further opportunities in the Japanese ecosystem.
Founded by Ryosuke Yamawaki and Takahiro Kanzaki in December 2018, Kepple Africa Ventures makes seed investments of between $50,000 and $150,000 in early-stage companies. With regional offices in Nairobi and Lagos, it has made the majority of its fifty investments in Kenya and Nigeria, but has also backed companies in Uganda, Ghana, Morocco and Cameroon. Although it mostly invests in tech, Kepple has also backed some non-tech companies. Most of the firm’s investments have been in verticals including fintech, logistics, health and agriculture. “If the market looks good and it brings together the right team then it is a good fit for us,” Ryosuke says. “We are trying to be the most agile investor in the ecosystem, and the quickest.”
Kepple also plays a role in linking the African and Japanese startup ecosystems, connecting exciting African businesses with blue chip Japanese companies that can provide follow-on funding. Unsurprisingly, its Japanese roots are key to the fund. Kepple’s LPs are mostly Japanese high-net-worth individuals with deep expertise in entrepreneurship and finance. Some of them are founders of listed tech companies in Japan. “They invested in us in spite of the fact we didn’t have a track record because they trusted us as people. We have freedom. They don’t babysit us at all,” says Ryosuke.
Ryosuke believes Africa is the future. “From a financial perspective, other markets are already saturated. In Africa, it is very premature. There is not enough professional money to support the whole ecosystem, so there is a huge gap,” he says. The Kepple fund has grown to $13 million since its launch, of which it still has a large portion left to invest.
- Have a strong team and an addressable market.
The key things we look for are excellent teams and big target markets.
- Make sure that you are crazy about what you are doing.
We love founders who are so crazy about the idea they are pursuing that they even forget to eat meals.
- Pursue the big picture.
The big picture, the moon shot, the vision, or whatever you want to call it, will inspire key stakeholders and mobilize essential resources.
- Be thoughtful.
Reaching your end goal is tough, so we love to see founders with balance and thoughtfulness.
Applications can be sent via:
Main photo by Keeple Africa Ventures Inc