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Pan-African Seed fund P1 Ventures completes first $25 million close of its second fund

P1 Ventures, a Pan-African fund investing in fintech, e-commerce, healthtech, SaaS and AI ventures in African market has completed the first $25 million close of its second fund, in a move to support ambitious startups with global multi-stage and sector experience via its networks across the US, Europe and Asia.

Founded in 2020 by Mikael Hajjar and Hisham Halbouny, P1 Ventures intentionally focuses on a small number of exceptional African founders and companies building transformational software businesses with regional and global potential.  P1 combines its local market knowledge, a global track record and AI to unlock the continent’s huge and largely untapped potential.

In a statement, Mikael Hajjar said: “As far I know, I’m the first Mauritanian who’s ever launched a fund. Coming from a relatively small economy inspires us at P1 Ventures to go off the beaten path and back the underdogs. We love ambitious African founders who build products and services addressing a regional, if not global, customer base. Combining our deep local knowledge, our strong data orientation and our experience as investors, we can identify unique opportunities and help entrepreneurs become global winners.”

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P1 Ventures has invested in 29 early-stage companies across 10 countries including Money Fellows in Egypt, and Reliance Health in Nigeria, Yassir in Algeria – a super-app operating in Francophone Africa which recently announced the closing of  $150 million in a Series B funding round and Gameball, a software company gamifying loyalty and customer retention with an international client base across 70 countries. 

About 65% of the world’s remaining arable land is in Africa, creating a significant opportunity to scale up agriculture, address food security issues, and combat climate change. P1 recently launched an Entrepreneur In Residence program and seeded Nkoloso, which gathers data and keeps track of vast tracts of agricultural land using satellite imagery and AI. The company provides a wide range of applications, including tracking crop acreage and yields for credit and insurance underwriting, as well as calculating the value of timber and carbon credits. 

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Founder and general partner Mikael Hajjar is an engineer and Stanford MBA graduate who has led Fortune 500 technology companies Areva, Google and Zum and started angel investing in Africa in 2014 while co-founder and general partner Hisham Halbouny previously served as a Partner at Man Capital, an early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and Bolt, and has scaled businesses across Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. He was Managing Director at EFG Hermes, the region’s largest investment bank. 

P1 has also identified an opportunity for the pan-African region to use AI to leapfrog legacy infrastructure, particularly in antiquated sectors such as agriculture and FMCG retail. Just as mobile money in Africa leapfrogged debit and credit card infrastructure, AI can build high-fidelity data and enhance the time-to-value proposition to transform sectors.

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FMCG is one of the largest, most fragmented and informal industries in Africa. P1 recently invested in a Senegalese startup that leverages computer vision, geolocation and conversational AI technologies to gather and analyse data, providing actionable solutions for brands and distributors. P1 believes this can be expanded in other industries such as healthcare, consumer electronics distribution or the creative economy.

While AI is a huge opportunity for the continent, it can also accelerate the distribution and potential of venture capital, if used strategically by investors with deep knowledge. P1 Ventures is embedding AI in its own workflow to source deals and augment its investing team, helping the firm have even greater reach in a region where information and data are notoriously scarce. In building the most comprehensive database of African startups to date, P1 can be even more useful to the portfolio companies it invests in. 

P1 Ventures’ new fund will build on the success of the first fund as well as the huge opportunity in Africa’s startup tech sector. Africa was one of only a handful of tech ecosystems to see increased VC funding in 2022 when global VC funding fell by 35%. Africa has experienced the fastest VC growth globally, with almost $6bn deployed in African startups in the past year alone. African founders have also been capital efficient, over $10bn of enterprise value has been created across only 12 technology companies – including P1 Ventures’ Yassir. Over 10 years, less than $20bn of VC has been invested across the entire continent. However, some $3 trillion of consumer spending is forecast for the region.

James Musoba
James Musoba
Studying Africa's startup and technology scene. I always look forward to discovering new exciting inventions and vibrant entrepreneurs.

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