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Japan’s Shipping Co. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines to invest $200 million into Africa’s Novastar Ventures

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Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Japan’s shipping and logistics firm, is set to invest $200,000 in Novastar Ventures, a pan-African startup fund which annually screens over 100 African startups and has invested in many startups that are making significant contributions to solving social issues and promoting economic development in Africa.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines will invest in Novastar Ventures People and Planet Fund III LP, an African startup investment fund managed by Novastar Ventures Ltd. Through investment in Novastar-managed funds, MOL will acquire the latest information on promising startups that could become its partners and accelerate its business development in growth areas.

In November 2023, Novastar announced a partnership with SBI Holdings, a major player in the Japanese venture capital scene to form a $40 million multi-fund investment by SBI Holdings to anchor Novastar’s upcoming funds. SBI Holdings will also help to mobilize matching commitments from Japanese institutional investors to Novastar’s funds. Today’s announcement is one such fruit!

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MOL was the first Japanese shipping company to establish a route between Japan and the east coast of Africa in 1926 and has been offering marine transport services to and from Africa for about 100 years. Recently, MOL Group ventured into not only ocean freight forwarding, but also air freight forwarding, land transport, warehousing, and the export of used Japanese agricultural machinery.

MOL Group aims to further expand its logistics business based on ocean freight forwarding, and create and promote business opportunities in areas e-mobility, agritech, renewable energy, hydrogen, ammonia-related businesses, and so on. The Group will utilize this investment to step up business development throughout Africa and through Novastar’s extensive network, seize business opportunities and contribute to the African growth story.

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Founded in 2014, Novastar is one of Africa’s oldest venture capital firm with more than US$200 million from investors around the world through two funds, Novastar Ventures East Africa Fund I LP and Novastar Ventures Africa Fund II LP, raised more than US$200 million from investors around the world. It’s investments in e-mobility, agriculture, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, retail and consumer goods, and fintech have contributed to solving social and environmental issues, improving people’s lives, and achieving economic growth in Africa.

MOL Group and Novastar Ventures will invest in E-mobility ventures such as BasiGo, agriculture, renewable energy, logistics, fintech, cold chain, affordable housing, retail and consumer goods, all across Africa from their planned $200 million fund from as early as June 2024 in its offices in London, Nairobi and Lagos.

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MOL has a subsidiary in Kenya, MOL Shipping (Kenya) Ltd., and the Nairobi branch of MOL Group company MOL Logistics Co., Ltd. (MLG), doing forwarding business of ocean and air transportation to/from Africa. In May 2023, MOL and MLG teamed up with GCS Velogic, a major logistics company serving East Afica, and they offer forwarding, customs clearance, warehouse management, and land transport in Kenya and neighboring countries.

In July 2023, the MOL Group launches 1st warehouse operaiton in Africa. In January 2024, MOL, with MLG formed strategic alliance with Revital Healthcare, Kenya’s leading medical supplies manufacturer.

According to Yoshitaka Kitao, Representative Director, Chairman, President & CEO of SBI Holdings, Inc: “With its rapid growth, young and tech-savvy population, abundant natural assets and increasing urbanization, Africa is poised for global leadership on sustainable development. We recognise Novastar as the leader in African VC and look forward to building a new, trusted bridge between Japan and Africa for financial and strategic investment, knowledge transfer and innovation learnings. This partnership will leverage Africa’s megatrends for the mutual benefit of Japanese investors and African businesses.”

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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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