Catalytic Capital | July 25, 2022

Seedstars raises $20 million for early stage impact startups in emerging markets

Roodgally Senatus
ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, July 25 — Geneva-based Seedstars is targeting a $30 million final close for Seedstars International Ventures to back 100 scalable impact tech ventures with pre-seed to Series B financing. The fund has raised $20 million in a first close.

International Finance Corp. provided first-loss capital to catalyze investments in lower-income countries such as Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal. The catalytic tranche will “provide downside protection should the investments in those markets not work out as planned,” Seedstars’ Charlie Graham-Brown told ImpactAlpha.

Other anchor investors include Swiss asset manager Symbiotics, Visa Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, which invested via its Zero Gap Fund, a $30 million fund it launched with MacArthur Foundation and its flagship Catalytic Capital Consortium, or C3.

Zero Gap last week reported it has mobilized more than $580 million in private capital to meet U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Impact tech

The venture fund will invest in early-stage startups in financial inclusion, digital commerce, future of work and health and education. Seedstars aims to diversify the fund evenly across Latin America, Asia and Africa. Seedstars’ first emerging market venture fund, which raised just under $10 million, invested in 81 companies in more than 30 countries.

Gender lens

Seedstars aims to qualify for the 2X Challenge, which incentivizes funds to emphasize women’s employment, entrepreneurship and leadership (for context, see “With billions as bait, development financiers seek to hook private investors on gender-lens investing). Seedstars will require portfolio companies to have at least one female founder and receive gender diversity training.

“Consciously, we’ve built and hired a team that’s 50-50 male and female at every level,” said Graham-Brown. “We figured if we’re asking portfolio companies to look out for this, we should start with ourselves.”

Roughly 11% of women-led enterprises in emerging markets secure seed funding.