What does Jaza Rift mean?
  • “Jaza” in Swahili means “to fill”. “Rift” refers to the Rift Valley in Kenya, the cradle of mankind, which is slowly splitting Africa into two continents , essentially the gap in investments in Africa.
  • Designed in partnership with Villgro Africa, we strive to bridge the healthcare investment gap in early to later stage and private capital that is glaring in Africa.
At what stage do you invest?
  • Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A. Exceptionally early or later
What is your investment thesis?
  • We back founders using frontier inventions and innovations to solve fundamental healthcare challenges across Africa.
  • We back Africa-focused companies that are making quality healthcare more accessible, affordable and available.
  • Our investment thesis identifies healthcare verticals where the challenges are large and deeply local, and can be solved commercially, and where innovation and invention supported by technology are the driver.
  • The healthcare market in Africa is overlooked, underinvested and misunderstood. In contrast, with tailwinds of the youth population growth, expanding internet penetration, dramatic drop in data costs, rapidly developing infrastructure, strengthening governance and transparency, and a quickly emerging tech and venture ecosystem, we see significant opportunity in backing healthcare focused startups betting on Africa’s future exponential growth.
  • We typically prefer to be leads or co-leads into category defining digital health, medtech or biotech/techbio companies across Africa.
Which countries do you focus on?
  • We are a Pan-African fund with primary markets as with Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
  • defining digital health, medtech or biotech/techbio companies across Africa.
Into which key sectors do you invest?
  • Digital Health
  • Medtech
  • Biotech / Techbio
  • Assistive Technologies / Accessibility
  • We also base our analysis on cross-cutting themes such as AI and machine learning for Healthcare (AI4H), Climate and Health nexus, Gender and Health
What is your ticket size, do you follow-on?
  • Our initial check ranges from US $200k to US $2m, with our typical sweet spot sitting between US $500k - US $1m. We have the capacity to follow on to Series A, and more rarely to Series B.
  • We have a determined reserve policy and follow-on strategy where we reserve capital to follow on into portfolio companies we've already backed. Not every company will receive a follow-on investment. 
  • From our inaugural Fund I, we intend to make at least one follow-on investment into 15 of the future 30-40 portfolio companies. We also have later stage co-investors and corporates that can invest more than US $10m per company that are on high growth trajectories and have a qualified demand for significant capital to scale.
Do you lead investments?
  • We prefer to lead investments and co-lead investments where it also fits the needs of the company. We will also participate in investment rounds with co-investors where we are not the lead investor in a smaller capacity. 
  • We typically will lead an investment where we have strong conviction in the management team and the market opportunity, and where we can add value to this stage of your business. We do take Board and Observer seats in cases where we lead or co-lead the investment, however, at the earliest stage of company formation we know this is not always necessary.
Do you co-invest?
  • We are by definition a collaborative organization, as we have strategic partnerships with incubators and accelerators focused on healthcare across Africa and beyond. We also actively seek co-investment opportunities to give our startups more access to other thesis aligned investors backing early-stage healthcare startups across Africa. The majority of the investments we make will be alongside funds and other backers who are aligned with the mission, vision, and values.
How long is your investment process?
  • Our investment process depends on the level of preparedness, stage and geography specific to the business and the investment considered. On average, our process from first call to cash in the bank for a lead equity investment is minimum 3 months, however this timeline depends on the structure and nuances of the transaction, the responsiveness to requests, the quality of information provided, and the quality of lawyers supporting all parties. 
  • Our fastest investment from start to finish has been in a couple of weeks, notably because there was an already established relationship through our partner incubator, accelerator or co-investors. However this is more of an exception rather than a rule. This is one of the reasons we advise companies to start building relationships and sharing information consistently before you need to fundraise, as it will typically shorten the length of the investment process.
What criteria do you look for when making an investment decision?
  • Our investment criteria revolves around our 3T framework: Team, Taste and Terms. Our investment decision is also heavily geared towards really understanding the team, particularly at the earlier stages of a company lifecycle - this is the founding team, relevance to the market (Team-Product, Team-Market, Product-Market Fit) and problem being solved, proximity to market, and completeness. In addition to the Team, we focus heavily on the problem being solved, the size of the market and opportunity, the validation and the technology or innovation/invention (Taste). Lastly we look at the Terms of the transaction. One of the key areas we spend time with our Founders is on working together to not only understand your fit for us, but our fit for you, which focuses on how we can help you and your company achieve the ambitious vision you've set out to achieve that would lead to a better healthcare for Africa and beyond.
What’s your relationship with Villgro Africa?
  • Villgro Africa is a strategic partner for us. We share offices in Nairobi, we share market knowledge and sector expertise; and support each other’s portfolio companies and programs from design to execution. We also provide Villgro Africa with deal room services where incubated or accelerated startups pitch to us as potential investors.

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