Norrsken Foundation launches US$200m fund to back businesses in tech space

AFRICA – Norrsken Foundation, a non-profit organisation solving problems such as poverty, famine, environmental issues, and mental health, has announced that it has launched a US$200 million fund to back Africa’s future tech giants.

Founded by Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth, the Norrsken Foundation has teamed up with Hans Otterling, Partner at Northzone, an investment team led by Natalie Kolbe, previously Global Head of Private Equity at Actis in South Africa, Actis colleague Ngetha Waithaka in Kenya, and Lexi Novitske, prior founder of Acuity Venture Partners in Nigeria, to launch Norrsken22 Africa Tech Growth Fund.

“Africa has a population of 1.2 billion, where 60 per cent are below 25 years old. In the next decade, this young, digital-first generation will change not only the future of Africa but of the world,” Niklas Adalberth said.

The Norrsken22 African Tech Growth Fund has reached its first close of US$110 million. This comes after Norrsken closed a US$140.80 million impact fund for European startups in March 2021. Norrsken22 will back businesses in the fintech, edtech, medtech, and market-enabling solutions.

Out of the US$110 million investment, US$65 million came from a group of 30 unicorn founders. Some of them include Flutterwave co-founder Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, iZettle co-founder Jacob de Geer, and Delivery Hero co-founder Niklas Östberg.

Others include Carl Manneh, co-founder of Mojang, Sebastian Knutsson, co-founder of King, and Willard Ahdritz, founder of Kobalt Music also contributed. The fund is also backed by SEB Pension Foundation and family offices.

According to a statement, the fund is supported by an advisory council of business leaders from across the continent, contributing local business knowledge as well as global perspectives.

They include Nonkululeko Nyembezi, Chairman of Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Arnold Ekpe, ex-Group Chief Executive, Ecobank, Phuthuma Nhleko, ex-Chief Executive of MTN and Shingai Mutasa, founder and CEO of Masawara Plc.

Norrsken Foundation says it will re-invest its portion of the capital generated by Norrsken22 back into supporting African entrepreneurship, to further promote the growth of the African tech ecosystem and a new generation of founders.

“Norrsken22 plans to invest 40 per cent of its capital, about US$80 million in Series A and B companies and the rest in follow-on rounds from Series C up until exit,” Ngetha Waithaka said.

“The firm will make 20 investments at an average ticket size of US$10 million and may go as high as US$60 million, including follow-on rounds in some portfolio companies.”

According to Hans Otterling, founding partner at Norrsken22, eyes are turning towards Africa as the next epicentre for digital disruption.

Technology is enabling emerging enterprises to leapfrog legacy ways of doing business. Leaders are emerging but a lack of growth capital is holding them back,” Otterling said.

The pan-African investment team, based in the key tech hubs of Africa, have previously backed Africa’s fastest-growing unicorns from Fawry to Flutterwave and are focused on helping companies expand regionally and internationally, delivering the support that African founders need when scaling their businesses.

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