FrontEnd Ventures, a Kenya-focused venture capital fund committed to supporting local and diverse founder teams that are passionate about innovating and changing their value chains has launched a fund to back local founders.
The firm which is targeting impact-driven tech startups in various industries including agriculture, e-commerce, health and transport has closed its initial $1 million to help Kenyan founders secure the early-stage funding .
“We are investing in Kenyan founders because we believe in our thesis that people who have lived experiences have a much better chance of creating products that address related nuances,”Njeri Muhia, FrontEnd partner and co-founder, told TechCrunch.
The VC was founded by Njeri Muhia and Steven Wamathai in 2021 with a bid to start an early-stage venture capital firm.FrontEnd Ventures, is backed by a $5 million fund — likely to extend to $10 million.
The VC has already started issuing its first tickets of up to $100,000 but is keen on making follow-on investments in startups under their portfolio.
“This means investing in local women founders too, since they bring with them a different profile of experiences, solutions and ingenuity that is unmatched.”
“We are de-risking them by depositing small checks at the early stage, but our intention is to have follow-on investments — where we can invest up to $500,000 in series A,” Muhia said.
The company made their first investment and are evaluating a few other startups with plans to fund at least five more before the year ends.
The VC is also considering a tech-as-a-service arm that can extend services to startups, helping them build faster.
“We envision this tech as a service function as being able to help startups to fix their problems as quickly and cheaply. We are also developing our rolodex of service providers who can work with them because obviously founders are not experts in every field,” she said.
Muhia said that FrontEnd is in talks with a number of institutions and high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) in Kenya to join its current list of investors that currently includes executives in the banking, real estate and manufacturing industries.
“Our fund is backed by Kenyan LPs, and what I love about the ones that have committed, is that they understand the need to support new local businesses.”
She goes on to note the need to educate more HNWIs on the potential of investing in startups. Demystifying the ecosystem, she says, is critical for unlocking more local funding.
Startups in Africa are majorly driven by foreign investment inflows from venture capital funds in the U.S., Europe and Asia, as the appetite for opportunities in the continent continues to grow.
The amount raised in the first half of the year has also more than doubled to over $3 billion when compared to a similar period last year, according to Big Deal data. And it is likely that Africa will have another record year as inflows continue to spike.
Last year, startups in Africa raised close to $5 billion, double the previous year’s investment and nine times what was raised five years ago. However, this amount continues to disproportionately favor — especially in Kenya — North American and European founders