Category Archives: Funding & Acquisitions

Funding news and acquisitions

USAID offers $4m to off-grid solar startups in sub-Saharan Africa

USAID revealed it will finance a $4 million funding initiative focused on helping 8 innovative solar firms across sub-Saharan Africa. It will donate $500,000 to each household solar start-up in the region which can prove a 2:1 private investor match, for example to demonstrate they have collected $1 million from private sector investors.

This is a unit of the USAID’s Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development, which is a global cooperation between the U.S. Agency for International Development, Power Africa, the U.K. Department for International Development, and the Shell Foundation. The fund is meant to help innovators who are extending their inventions. These firms are transforming household solar power across Africa. The Enterprise Awards are supposed to bring up to 120,000 new connections in off-grid communities.

Renewable energy sources are waiting for investors – during the last few years, they have become more reasonably prices, effective and realizable for industry to conduct. Investments and help from USAID and other like-minded public/private collaborations have enabled development and fast emergence of off-grid and mobile pay-go household solar energy service providers and fast growth of an aiding commercial environment.

To be more detailed, USAID wants to intone collaborations and help fund: solar home system producers and distributors; service providers and technical integration providers supporting the household solar market to develop; financial intermediaries and other service providers which raise access to financing for the household solar market; peculiar investment structures; advanced end-user payment solutions. What is more, favoritism will be granted to locally owned and handled companies, and also to those owned and handled by females. Firms, which deliver pico-solar solutions (solar lanterns, and mini- or microgrids) are not entitled. Concept documents will be admitted between February and April 2017.

Italian H-Farm signs €101 mln agreement to launch H-Campus

H-Farm is a digital platform launched in 2005 to support young entrepreneurs start new initiatives and help in digitalization of Italian firms. So far they have invested in 86 innovative small enterprises and their total amount invested over the last 11 years is €24 mln.

Their latest project, H-Campus, has a goal to be the European most important innovation hub. The latest €101 million contract was set up by launching a real estate fund managed by Finint Investments SGR and will operate after the buildability approval is received. It will be undersigned by Cattolica Assicurazioni, which will have 56% of shares, with help of the FIA2 Fund “Smart housing, Smart working, Education & Innovation” managed by CDP Investimenti SGR, which holds 40% of shares, and Ca’ Tron Real Estate which holds 4% of shares. The €101 million fund has current assets, acquired by Ca’ Tron Real Estate (their value is €32 million) and assets which belong to by Cattolica (their value is €10 million), plus €59 million of liquidity to be spent on the project’s development.

H-CAMPUS is supposed to serve over 3,000 students, young startuppers, professors, entrepreneurs and managers. Sharing the same place caused exchange of ideas, experiences and best practices as inspiration and examples. It may also establish new opportunities. The real estate project implies extension of the area absorbed by H-FARM from 14,000 m2 of built space and 12ha of park to 31ha of land, with 26,000m2 of new buildings. Everything costs €69 million. The whole complex is under a 30-year lease.

At a normative level, H-CAMPUS was identified as a “project of strategic interest” by the Veneto Region and is a subject to Regional Law 35/20, art. 32, now in its final authorization stage.

Italian startups worth to track in 2017

Despite of a quite slow start, at least when compared to European powers like Germany and UK, the startup scene in Italy has started to grow seeking global stage. Italian startups have been notably active in the last few years, supported by programs like the governmental Italia Startup Visa Program. Here are some of them worth to know:

Talent Garden –  it is a coworking network with places to work all across Italy and also in other countries: Spain, Albania, Romania, Lithuania. Soon it will open in France. Talent Garden was launched in a small Italian town and in just a few years it grew from a startup to Europe’s largest coworking provider. It has diversified its core business, from shared offices to a hub for innovation-related activities. In 2015 it began with training courses for developers, which were requested by companies willing to make use of digital technologies.

D1 Milano – last year this company created the world’s first thermochromic watch. The startup was opened in 2013. With average prices of $230, the company aims to offer affordable wristwear. It is currently trending in Japan and is stocked by retailers like Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and The Dubai Mall.

BeMyEye is an innovative service for crowdsourcing shop checks and mystery shopping. It provides trustable observations via a widespread network of more than 350 000 on-demand workers using a smartphone application in few days from thousands of locations in Italy, Germany, Spain, France and UK. Soon it will start other European locations.

Drexcode – an online platform for rental of luxury clothes, that has a portfolio of high-end clothes and accessories from the latest
collections of the most famous fashion brands.  It was founded in 2014. In 2015 it closed an investment round of the of the total value of 556k Euros.

Waynaut – a platform for multimodal transportation with innovative solutions such as ridesharing and carsharing. It brings all available transport means under one search, providing users with the fastest, cheapest and most convenient options for their route and guides them on to the travel operator.

Musement – an app which enables you to locate and plan guided tours, city passes, museum tickets, and more. It was launched in 2013 and currently operates in 450 cities across 55 countries. In 2016 the startup obtained $10m in an investment round aimed at improving the app and expanding internationally.

At present startups in Italy seem to suffer from an image problem because the country is usually considered by foreigners as a tourist destination, rather than an innovation powerhouse. Hopefully, having some successful startups already,  the local ecosystem will be noticed by international investors, giving it the needed boost.

 

MegaFon secures credit-line financing for Mail.ru Group stake buy

Russian mobile services provider MegaFon and Sberbank have concluded a contract to launch a $592m credit line that expires in 2024 to finance a stake take over in Mail.ru Group. The money will enable the takeover of 15.2% of shares in the authorized capital of Mail.ru Group (63.8% of voting shares).

The deal will amount to $640 million, containing $540 million to be disposed when the transaction is closed and another $100 million to be given after one year. The shares will be sold by: New Media and Technology Investment LP, New Media Technologies Capital Partners Limited and Ardoe Finance Limited. These companies belong to the USM, a holding company ruled by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov. Yet, when the deal is sealed, Usmanov will still hold an indirect interest in Mail.Ru Group, because USM owns over 56% of MegaFon.

MegaFon’s partnership with Sberbank enables it to purchase the Mail.ru shares on alluring conditions. The contract also modificated the terms of three going credit lines which amount to $1.64bn, and which were given to MegaFon in 2012 and 2016. The new terms have lower interest rates and reconsidered early payoff terms.

The takeover plan arises as both companies are expanding cooperation to jointly develop new products and synergies. For example, the two companies have decided to start a special deal for Vkontakte’s mobile users. The new service, called ‘VK Mobile’, will profit from the infrastructure of Megafon and its affiliate Scartel. Mail.Ru Group and MegaFon have also decoded to jointly create predictive data analysis instruments to rationalize user segmentation.

Turkish startup ecosystem

In development of modern economies, one of the key roles is played by startups. A well-developed ecosystem of startups creates favorable conditions for development of innovative solutions and products that can sometimes revolutionize the market. Turkish startups are still far away from the leading in innovation California’s ‘Silicon Valley’, but the local ecosystem is slowly starting to shape solid foundations. Turkish startups receive support from government institutions such as TUBITAK or TEPAV.

One of the sectors, which pulls the Turkish economy forward, are information and telecommunication technologies. The sector’s development is conducive to the demographic structure of Turkey and the government’s policy. Compared to Western Europe, the Turks are very young people. One-fourth of the citizens did not exceed 15 years of age, and half of the population are people who are under thirty. This is potentially a very large group of consumers of mobile services and portable electronic devices.

TUBITAK provides grants and funding, supporting primarily research and development. TEPAV in turn, is a think-tank on issues of cost, which is involved in the Global Entrepreneurship Program organized by the US government. It is a bridge between Turkish businessmen and American investors. Within the frame of ‘Techno-entrepreneur’ program, the Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology promotes technological parks and provides their federated startups seed capital in the amount of USD 55 thousand.

The greatest achievements, among public institutions, in the field of startups support has TTGV – Technology Development Foundation of Turkey, which was founded in 1991 with a loan granted by the World Bank Ankara. TTGV mainly supports the most innovative technology projects. To date, the foundation has supported 950 projects in the amount of USD 300 million. The Foundation also had a sizable contribution to creation of two companies supporting startups: Is Girisim and Turkven, which created foundations for investing based on venture capital principles. Since 2000, the two institutions have co-financed entrepreneurs in the amount of more than USD 3.5 billion.

In Turkey, they are also present non-profit organizations with a global reach. One of them is Endeavor, an organization supporting entrepreneurs from around the world which have potentially ‘high firepower’. The organization was founded 1997 in Argentina and Chile. Its purpose is to search for promising entrepreneurs in emerging markets countries. In 2006 it opened a branch in Istanbul. Endeavor looks after, among others, as promising startups from wireless technologies industry as: Pozitron and AirTies. Here also was raised Yemeksepeti – an e-commerce platform through which so successfully is sold fast food served by brands such as: McDonald’s, Burger King or KFC – with delivery to the customer.

Some other notable startups of Turkish startup ecosystem include Onedio, called also “BuzzFeed of Turkey”, social gaming company Peak Games, the largest classified site sahibinden,  huge shopping platforms like hepsiburada.com, n11.comgittigidiyor (which is part of eBay) and Trendyol,  marketing tool Insider,  fintech platform iyzico, taxi-booking app BiTaksi, delivery startup under 1h from nearby places called KapGel etc. We will soon cover the most important startups from Turkey in much more details. Stay tuned!