WeChat Africa launches R50 million seed fund for promising mobile startups

Investment to support local entrepreneurs and tech innovations


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WeChat Africa has launched a R50 million seed fund to help promising tech startups to get off the ground.

Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa says the aim of the fund is to provide financial support to businesses so that they can effectively get on the WeChat platform. 

"This will include technical integration and communications tactics across the Naspers' stable and other suited channels," he says.

Partly owned by media giant NaspersWeChat has focused on integrating with early stage businesses whose models strategically fit with the platform and its positioning in the market.

These partnerships include companies such as Money4Jam, PicUp, Order In and Rush.

Founder of ecourier startup Rush, Glen Whittaker recently told SME South Africa that they have a proactive partner in WeChat, "who sees the value in our business and will assist in growing our brand through ecommerce and through the WeChat platform."

In addition, Loubser says that the integration with the WeChat platform makes access to a national audience much easier, in turn bridging the gap between the startup and the consumer. WeChat has an estimated 5 million South African users.

The search

WeChat Africa together with tech strategy practice firm, Batstone, are searching for tech-enabled startups that have initial market validation as well as a viable product.

Startups will be selected through online applications and a series of purpose workshops. 

Loubser says Batstone's purpose-led approach to understanding and supporting tech businesses as well as their networks means the partnership is well placed to identify and vet the best possible investment opportunities for WeChat.

Alexandra Fraser, head of Batstone Ventures says the fund is well positioned to fill a gap in the local VC landscape.

"Our sense is that it complements many of the existing funds and investment strategies in the market. Ideally we, and WeChat Africa, can partner with great businesses as well as VC funds looking for a platform with large market reach to test their investments’ potential."

Applications via Batstone’s website (www.batstones.com/wechat) will open in mid-January 2016.

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