ImpactAlpha, June 15 – VestedWorld invests in early-stage companies based in or serving Africa. Chicago-based impact investor’s two latest investments are Vanu, a Boston-based internet tech company, and Kigali, Rwanda-based GET IT, a food distributor.
Vanu makes equipment and software to help mobile operators affordably build and operate cellular networks in rural areas. The company’s goal is to enable 1.2 billion unconnected people worldwide to gain access to the Interned. The current roadblock is cost: the average cell tower costs $100,000-$250,000 to build and $30,000-$40,000 per year to operate, VestedWorld’s Lavanya Anand tells ImpactAlpha. “These dynamics make it unprofitable to build traditional cellular towers in areas that serve less than 20,000 mobile subscribers.”
Vanu’s towers cost significantly less to install and operate, Anand adds. “Vanu’s towers can be built and operated economically in areas with as few as 500 mobile subscribers. We believe Vanu’s solution will be a faster and more cost-effective way to expand connectivity to remote areas than the likes of Google’s Project Loon” – Google’s network of “stratospheric balloons” designed to deliver Internet services to remote areas.
Vanu has operations in India and Rwanda and has partnered with mobile network operator MTN in Zambia, South Africa and Benin.
VestedWorld participated in Vanu’s Series A round. The company is looking to raise up to $11 million and had closed $8.8 million as of March, according to a recent SEC filing.
VestedWorld now has a dozen companies in its portfolio and is investing from its second fund. It recently invested in Nigeria-based agri-processor Tomato Jos, alongside Alitheia Capital and Acumen.
GET IT runs a food distribution and logistics company in Rwanda. The company uses off-grid cold-storage facilities to prevent spoilage of food from its own farm and other suppliers as it transports farm goods and handles exports.
VestedWorld invested an undisclosed amount in GET IT’s Series A round. Nairobi-based venture debt firm EquaLife Capital is also an investor.