Erik Hersman, Paul Bragiel and Mbwana Alliy have  launched Savannah Fund at a conference in Nairobi,Kenya. Savannah Fund is a seed capital fund specializing in US$25,000-US$500,000 investments in early stage high growth technology (web and mobile) startups in sub-Saharan Africa. The fund seeks to bridge the wide early stage/angel and venture capital investment gap that currently exists in Africa.

Savannah Fund currently focuses on Kenya and East Africa, but partners or founders  might consider opportunities in other African regions in the not-too-distant future.  Erik Hersman, a partner at Savannah Fund in an article on his blog said: “The idea is to bring the Silicon Valley-style accelerator model to Africa, seeing what needs to be tweaked to make it work for our region.” He further stated that ” We’ll be looking throughout the region for these investments, from Rwanda and Tanzania to Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya”

“We’re here for the small guy and our goal is to find those risky tech startups with hungry, passionate founders that will do the hard work it takes to become a successful company” he said.

The Fund’s Accelerator Program will deploy relatively small amounts of capital ($25,000 to each company in exchange for about 15% equity stake) to a cohort of 5 startups at a time for 3 months. Applicants will be chosen through an online application and interview process but successful teams should apply with not just an idea but an initial prototype, early customers and revenue.

Erik Herman is the founder of Ushahidi, a crisis management crowdsourcing platform and the founder of the iHub in Nairobi, the leading workspace in Subsaharan Africa with over 5,000 members. Paul Bragiel is a serial tech entrepreneur  and founder of i/o ventures, an early stage seed and accelerator program from San Francisco that has incubated 16 startups with 3 exits.

Savannah Fund has commitments from Tim Draper, Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Yelp co-founder Russ Simmons, and Dali Kilani and Roger Dickey of Zynga.

Applications are now open for submissions


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