TLcom Capital raises $154m fund for early-stage African startups

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

Venture capital, TLcom Capital, headquartered in Nairobi and known for backing startups such as Vendease, Seamless HR, and uLesson, has successfully concluded fundraising for TIDE Africa II, a $154 million fund primarily targeting early-stage startups.

Initially securing a first close of $70 million in January 2022, the fund was slated for a second close by the year’s end, ultimately surpassing its target after a two-year journey.

Maurizio Caio, TLcom Capital’s founder and managing partner, attributed the delay to substantial investments necessitating documentation adjustments.

TIDE Africa II dwarfs TLcom’s inaugural fund, boasting a size nearly double at $71 million, which concluded in February 2021. Despite a slowdown in African startup funding since 2022, with global venture capital interest waning, African startups managed to raise $3.2 billion in 2023, marking a decline from previous years.

In response to the diminished foreign capital influx, indigenous venture capital firms like TLcom have assumed a more prominent role.

TLcom typically initiates investments at the seed stage or Series A, providing subsequent capital to portfolio companies as they advance. Caio disclosed that their initial investment typically ranges between $1 to $3 million.

Additionally, TLcom Capital is committed to supporting female-founded tech startups, having allocated $2 million to FirstCheck Africa, a pre-seed fund dedicated to women entrepreneurs.

With aspirations to demonstrate the African tech ecosystem’s potential for significant returns, TLcom targets investments in 20-25 startups, maintaining a strategy similar to its first fund, which concentrated over 80% of its investments at Seed or Series A.

Notable investors in TIDE Africa Fund II include the European Investment Bank (EIB), Allianz, DEG Impact’s joint venture, AfricaGrow, Visa Foundation, and Bertelsmann.

Expanding its reach to Egypt and South Africa, the new fund positions TLcom to collaborate with African founders in addressing the continent’s most pressing challenges through innovative solutions.

Already, TIDE Africa Fund II has made investments in South Africa and Egypt, supporting companies like LittleFish in Cape Town, facilitating payment and banking products for retail-focused SMBs, and ILLA in Cairo, specializing in middle-mile logistics.

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