IFC has today announced that it will invest Ksh. 228 million (USD 2 million) to support tech startups and women entrepreneurs in East Africa.

IFC will invest Ksh. 171 million (USD 1.5 million) in the Antler East Africa fund, which will go towards supporting the growth of East Africa’s technology startups. The fund is run by Antler East Africa and is an early-stage venture capital fund, focused on developing the next generation of tech leaders.

IFC will invest an additional Ksh. 57 million (USD 500,000) from the Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) to support Antler’s new incubator program that launches in March and includes a focus on supporting women entrepreneurs. We-Fi invests in programs and projects that help unlock financing to address the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs.

Antler will provide a support network including personalized coaching, workspace, and training to startup founders accepted into the program. The program will support teams who have an idea and want to turn it into a business, as well as early-stage startup teams looking to grow and raise capital. Through the incubator program, Antler plans to make 35 new investments in early-stage startups over the next three years.

“We know what it takes to get a startup off the ground and want to build a flexible support system that enables strong collaboration and interaction between fellow entrepreneurs, advisors, angel networks, and investors in Kenya and beyond. Our goal is to connect and fast-track the initial stages of the entrepreneurial journey,” said Marie Nielsen, Partner at Antler East Africa.

According to the IFC-Google report, eConomy Africa 2020, Kenya’s Internet economy, for example, has the potential to grow from $7.42 billion in 2020 to $12.84 billion by 2025, and up to $51 billion by 2050. To support this growth in Kenya and other countries in East Africa, IFC is working with partners such as Antler to provide local tech startups with capital and support systems that enable them to launch and grow their businesses while creating jobs.

“Africa’s digital economy is growing and it is critical that our investments and partnerships empower more entrepreneurs to tap into this growth. By supporting Antler, we can help entrepreneurs in East Africa, including women, to bring their ideas to life or take their startups to the next level, contributing to the region’s digital transformation,” said Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC Regional Director for Eastern Africa.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. In 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.