The 97Fund, a Ugandan based Open-end Investment Vehicle (HoldCo) that invests in high growth early-stage companies in Africa and managed by Ortus Africa Capital, has launched a $1 Million COVID-19 Relief Fund (the “Fund”).
The Relief Fund targets companies responding to the pandemic in the business model sectors of healthcare, tourism, education, finance, New Ways of working (NWoW); supply chains and logistics and the digital economy providing market places to businesses.
While commenting on the new development for The Fund, Kenneth Legesi, Manager of the 97Fund noted that COVID – 19 had disrupted Uganda’s social and economic landscape as seen through the different sectors across the board.
“The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development projected economic growth would decline from 6% to 5.2%, with an estimate of 2.5 million Ugandans likely to fall back into poverty due to the pandemic.
“Businesses are feeling the effects and with the sudden surge in COVID-19 numbers, there is need to ensure economic and business continuity to promote long-lasting growth and sustainability as we seek to mitigate business recession,” said Legesi.
“The fund is intended to support businesses that have the potential to support other businesses in an environment that is otherwise unprecedented.
“We are very deliberate on this because we expect the companies selected to benefit from The Fund to create an eco-system that helps other companies survive the pandemic.
“Now more than ever, the pandemic has taught us that businesses need to adapt as quickly and as efficiently as possible to find their footing during these unprecedented times of the virus while putting collaboration at the forefront,” added Legesi.
The COVID-19 Relief Fund has been seeded initially with $1,000,000 from The Innovation Village as part of the Young Africa Works Program supported by Mastercard Foundation.
The Innovation Village is on a mission to unlock and enable potential through innovation. As Uganda’s launch pad for leading Innovators and Entrepreneurs, The Innovation Village seeks to solve the problems facing innovators and entrepreneurs such as market & access to capital, appropriate mentorship and advisory, innovative problem solving not being applied by corporates, governments and development partners and market and connectivity.
“Before this pandemic, many people were sceptical about adopting innovation as a way of life. COVID-19 has enabled a change in mindset requiring a huge deal of innovative thinking for businesses to survive.
“The COVID-19 Relief Fund is here to support entrepreneurs that have embraced this window of uncertainty to invest in sustainable solutions that normalize this new normal in operations,” said CK Japheth, CEO and Team Lead The Innovation Village.
“Our goal is to grow companies that matter and are centred on solving the biggest industry and community challenges. The Innovation Village leverages innovation, entrepreneurship and technology to deliver lasting solutions while challenging the status quo.
“At a time like this, we are pleased to work together with Ortus Africa Capital to unlock and enable potential through innovative thinking to drive sustainable growth and economic posterity,” said Japheth.