Venture Capital Firm 500Startups Seeks First Nigeria Tech Deals

  • Targeting software, online market, e-commerce companies
  • Planning to raise $200 million to invest in target industries

500Startups, a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm with more than $175 million under management, is seeking its first investments in Nigerian technology companies as Africa’s most-populous nation encourages industries that will reduce its reliance on oil.

The firm “would like to invest in at least one to two Nigerian tech companies in the next year,’’ Andrea Barrica, venture partner at Mountain View, California-based 500Startups, said Wednesday in an e-mailed response to questions. Nigeria’s “big population and increasing access to technology and payments’’ make it an attractive market, she said.

The U.S. investor is looking to add Nigerian assets to 10 investments on the continent in markets including Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. It’s the latest venture-capital firm to show interest in the country, with Boulder, Colorado-based TechStars saying last week it’s seeking opportunities in the Nigerian information and communication technology industries.

Barrica, who in September met business owners in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, said 500Startups is targeting companies engaged in “technologies, software, online marketplaces and e-commerce.” The firm plans a $200 million fund to invest in such opportunities around the world.

MAP: Nigeria
MAP: Nigeria

Africa’s largest oil producer introduced an information and communication policy in 2012 to boost investments in these industries and counter a reliance on income from crude, which accounts for two-thirds of state revenue and more than 90 percent of export earnings. The government wants to increase broadband penetration fivefold from 4 percent of the population, according to the National Broadband Plan for 2013-2018.

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