Novastar Ventures had an active first half, making three new deals and three follow-on investments for its $80 million East Africa Fund I. The specifics of each transaction remain undisclosed. So far, the fund, which closed in September 2015, has backed thirteen businesses, all of which exhibit the fund’s favoured characteristics, namely mass-market scale potential, business model innovation and entrepreneurial leadership.
Two of the new investments were seed rounds. In April, the venture catalyst firm anchored a seed round for PayGo Energy, a Nairobi-based distribution service whose technology allows consumers to access clean burning LPG using mobile money on a pay-as-you-go basis.The firms service lessens people’s reliance on using dirty, inefficient fuels like kerosene and charcoal, helping improve household health and safety. In the following month, Novastar backed Lynk Jobs, a technology platform that helps households and businesses connect with qualified informal workers offering a range of services such as plumbing, household, carpentry and cooking. The platform facilitates the interaction between workers and customers, from screening and vetting workers, matching customer requests with qualified workers to managing payment and follow-up between the respective parties.
The third new company to join the fund’s portfolio is iProcure, an agricultural supply chain platform that allows smallholder farmers to access the agricultural supplies and inputs they need when they need them. Combining its own ERP platform, mobile technology and its distribution depots, iProcure has developed demand-led, data-driven links between input manufacturers and their customers, enhancing the value of the procurement and last-mile distribution services they offer with business intelligence and improved stock management.
The remaining three transactions Novastar completed were all follow-on rounds. These include a series B round for Sanergy, a waste management-to-agricultural inputs business, a Series A round for Komaza, an distributed plantation forestry company that plants trees on unused land and a follow-on round for Poa Internet, a business that sells affordable internet access to individuals and small businesses in East Africa.
According to the firm, Novastar’s deal pipeline remains robust. With an emphasis on businesses that are targeting Africa’s aspiring mass market, the firm will back companies in sectors where this market segment lives and spends money including agriculture, education, energy, healthcare and information access.