Global VC Ecosystems Monthly Recap is a newsletter covering relevant stories on venture capital, startups, and technology from select emerging market startup ecosystems. If you’re into learning about the people solving problems and creating the future in developing economies, this newsletter is for you.
Welcome to March! Spring is right around the corner, and a lot happened in the VC and startup space in the February recap below. It’s difficult to send this newsletter out this month as the world focuses on the situation in Ukraine. My thoughts go out to everyone involved. I do not support the Russian invasion, and I hope this ends as quickly and peacefully as possible.
A personal update: I’ve changed my plans a bit for the upcoming ecosystem coverage from Vagabond VC. I’m still heading to Africa next month, just a change in the order of countries. I’m starting in South Africa on April 15 and will spend roughly six months on the continent. I’m excited to be boots on the ground and learn more about the African startup scene!
Newsworthy: Tiger Global Management announced last month that it has raised $11Bfor its latest private fund, and is targeting $12B for a March close. This figure tops the firm’s $10B target for its largest investment fund to date.
- Why it’s important: Tiger Global has been one of the major global late-stage investors to place bets in emerging startup ecosystems. Given this fund size, and larger valuations that come with bigger check sizes and overall market trends, expect to see quite a few new Unicorns pop up around the world.
Speaking of Tiger Global and Unicorns, the firm was involved in Flutterwave’s recent $250M Series D. The latest funding round triples the FinTech startup’s valuation to $3B in just twelve months since its last fundraise.
- Why it’s important: This is big news for African FinTech, as Flutterwave is now the highest-valued startup in the entire continent. The next two in the rankings are also FinTech’s: OPay and Chipper Cash. I expect the record-breaking rounds to continue throughout 2022 in other sectors as well.
I can’t even keep up with the number of new VC funds launching in Asia. Genesia Ventures closed its third fund at $90M. Altara Ventures closed its first $130M fund. ThinkZone Ventures closed its second $60M fund. Aera VC closed $30M for ClimateTech investments. Lastly, IvyCap Ventures has closed $214M for an environment-focused fund.
- Why it’s important: Everybody jumping into VC isn’t just a U.S. thing. Globally, new funds are sprouting from both seasoned and first-time fund managers. This is great news for any emerging ecosystem, as access to capital is one of the core enablers of emerging market growth. Personally, I’m digging the climate and environment focus for some of these newly launched investment vehicles.
I am not insensitive to the toll that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine takes on the lives of those in both countries and their neighbors, but there is a tech and startup angle to this situation. Sanctions have cut Russia off from global financing sources, and many global tech companies have stopped providing products and services in the country. Startups based in Ukraine are also working to provide services to employees in the country.
- Why it’s important: For Ukraine, startups such as Grammarly are providing employees with financial services to leave the country. On the Russian side of things, a paused financial system and lack of access to services mean that startups there will likely be in a tough spot scaling their businesses for the time being.
Chilean insurance startup, Betterfly, has raised a $125M Series C round. The round was led by Glade Brook Capital Partners, with participation from QED Investors, DST Global Partners, Greycroft, Alma Mundi Ventures, and Lightrock.
- Why it’s important: This funding event marks a $1B valuation for the company, and thus mints the third Unicorn to come out of the Chilean ecosystem, following Cornershop and NotCo. Funding into LATAM companies won’t be slowing down anytime soon, and I think we will be seeing a lot of exits in the next couple of years.
In early February, Saudi Arabia announced over $6.4B in initiatives focused on future technologies and entrepreneurship, securing the country as MENA’s largest digital economy. There’s a lot to unpack here, including a $1B fund, $1B investment into MENA HUB, $1B investment into a data management platform, $2B into a smart logistics hub, a new Startup District, and $1.4B to supporting VC funds in digital content.
- Why it’s important: Saudi Arabia has been pushing hard to expand its economy beyond oil. With the rise of digital media creation and consumption worldwide, accelerated by the pandemic, this move will further diversify the Kingdom’s economy for the coming decade.