Swedish fund Norrsken22 poised for second Africa startup foray

SA is among the main hubs.
Lexi Novitske, Ngetha Waithaka, Natalie Kolbe of Norrsken22. Image: Supplied

Norrsken22, an Africa-focused fund started by Swedish tech startup founders and bosses, expects to raise $200 million or more this year and may make its second investment this month.

The venture is looking to take advantage of the continent’s fast-growing startup sector, which raised a record $5 billion in 2021, according to Lexi Novitske, a general partner with Norrsken22. That will happen as firms develop outside major hubs and expand into French-speaking parts of Africa, she said.

Listen: Natalie Kolbe, managing partner of Norrsken22, discusses the R3bn fund backed by 30 unicorns for African start-ups, with Fifi Peters

“We are just starting to see the very early successes come through and those successes are creating a whole wave of companies,” Novitske said in an interview. “We raised $110 million and our target is $200 million. We may go beyond that target because it feels like we have quite a bit of momentum and demand.”

Norrsken22 is a joint initiative between Hans Otterling, a partner at Northzone Ventures, and Niklas Adalberth’s Norrsken Foundation. Its aim is to support companies seeking to scale up rather than provide early-stage capital. Among backers are 30 founders of so-called unicorns, companies that have achieved a pre-market valuation of at least $1 billion.

Norrsken22’s first investment was through a $20 million funding round in Sabi, a Nigerian startup that uses an online platform to connect informal traders with suppliers. The company is planning a further $125 million fund raise in September and the Swedish group plans to participate.

Investment in a second company will likely follow this month, Novitske said.

“Although we are very much pan-African, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa” are the main hubs, she said. “The second deal actually has a large customer base in every one of those target markets.

She declined to identify the target company.

Norrsken22 plans to primarily focus on fintech and online platforms that help markets operate more efficiently with some focus on medical and education startups, Novitske said. Future interests may be in so-called neo banking, a reference to wholly online banking services, and pan-African transfer companies.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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