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London Tech Week

Catalyst Fund announces first close of $40M fund to back climate tech startups in Africa

Catalyst fund
Picture credits: Catalyst

The Catalyst Fund, a pre-seed VC fund and accelerator in Africa, has announced the first closing of over 20% of its targeted $40 million fund. The funds came from esteemed investors, including FSD Africa, FSDAi, Cisco Foundation, USAID Prosper Africa, and seasoned tech investor Andrew Bredenkamp.

With support from JPMorgan Chase & Co and the Global Environmental Facility, Catalyst Fund also works to provide dedicated impact measurement and research support to climate innovators, share insights and learnings, and enable partnerships via its Ecosystem Hub.

The initiative is dedicated to driving climate resilience innovation across the continent, marking a pivotal moment in its commitment to shaping a sustainable and climate-resilient future for Africa.

The Catalyst Fund intends to use the funds to support 40 pre-seed startups, with a focus on backing mission-driven local and women founders. The Fund’s commitment extends beyond the initial stage and it will provide follow-on capital to startups in their Seed and Series A rounds. By bridging this critical funding gap, the Catalyst Fund addresses a key bottleneck for climate ventures in Africa, positioning them for further growth-stage funding at Series B.

“At FSDAi we believe strongly that Africa has the potential to lead in climate solutions provided it has the finance it needs. Our mission is to support that by investing in innovative solutions that will help channel finance to under-resourced parts of the green economy. This collaboration with the Catalyst Fund, part of a package of investments totalling US$19.5m which we are announcing today, will do that by supporting entrepreneurs developing made-in-Africa climate-resilient solutions, so contributing both to Africa’s green economic growth and to global efforts to tackle the impact of climate change,” said Anne-Marie Chidzero, Chief Investment Officer, FSDAi.

“By blending equity investments with hands-on venture building, we believe we can unlock tremendous potential for innovative companies on the continent. Supporting ventures at the pre-seed stage requires more than capital. Our venture builders are the engineers, data scientists and growth marketing experts who can supercharge founders’ journeys toward building scalable and highly impactful ventures,” said Maelis Carraro, Managing Partner of the Catalyst Fund.

Startup accelerator to VC fund

Launched in 2016, Catalyst Fund transitioned from a philanthropic startup accelerator to a venture capital fund. The first Catalyst Accelerator, backed by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, PayPal, and Mastercard Foundation, supported 61 startups across emerging markets. It has backed 70% startups in Africa, including Wasoko, Chipper Cash, and Turaco.

“The Cisco Foundation respects the approach that Catalyst Fund is taking in bringing venture support, investment and attention to high-impact climate solutions in Africa, especially those that focus on adaptation to climate change in this critical region. We believe that the fund will also be pivotal in channeling both resources and growth for solutions that foster a stronger climate-resilient ecosystem in this market,” said Jocelyn Matyas, Climate Impact Portfolio Manager at Cisco Foundation.

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