- US-based and pan-African VC fund P1 Ventures has completed the first $25 million close of its second fund.
- Founded in 2020 by Mikael Hajjar and Hisham Halbouny, P1 Ventures is an early-stage VC fund that focuses on African founders and companies building software businesses with regional and global potential.
- P1 Ventures works alongside African founders across fintech, e-commerce, healthtech, SaaS and AI. Since its foundation, it has invested in 29 early-stage companies across 10 countries including Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria.
P1 Ventures – the Pan-African Seed VC fund combining local market knowledge, a global track record and AI to unlock the continent’s huge and largely untapped potential – has completed the first $25 million close of its second fund.
Founded in 2020, P1 Ventures is a high-conviction investor that intentionally focuses on a small number of exceptional African founders and companies building transformational software businesses with regional and global potential. P1 Ventures works alongside the visionary founders it invests in across fintech, e-commerce, healthtech, SaaS and AI. With a local-global approach, P1 leverages decades of experience operating and investing in African markets, supporting ambitious startups with global multi-stage and sector experience and its networks across the US, Europe and Asia.
Founder and general partner Mikael Hajjar is an engineer and Stanford MBA graduate who has held leadership roles at Fortune 500 technology companies Areva, Google and Zum. He started angel investing in Africa in 2014 and learned his craft from the “Elon Musk of China,” William Li.
Co-founder and general partner Hisham Halbouny previously served as a Partner at Man Capital, an early investor in Uber, Airbnb, and Bolt, and has built and scaled businesses across Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. Prior to that, he was Managing Director at EFG Hermes, the region's largest investment bank.
P1’s advisory committee comprises investors and operators who have made a global impact with investments, including Bernard Dalle, a founding team member of Index Ventures, and Emil Michael, the former Chief Business Officer at Uber.
Mikael Hajjar said: “As far I know, I’m the first Mauritanian who’s ever launched a fund. Coming from a relatively small economy inspires us at P1 Ventures to go off the beaten path and back the underdogs. We love ambitious African founders who build products and services addressing a regional, if not global, customer base. Combining our deep local knowledge, our strong data orientation and our experience as investors, we can identify unique opportunities and help entrepreneurs become global winners.”
Hisham Halbouny added: “Every globally minded asset allocator has been actively seeking exposure to the continent. We’ve witnessed similar inflexion points in other regions, such as Europe and Latin America, where leading VC firms like Index and Kaszek Ventures have emerged.”
Since its launch, P1 Ventures has invested in 29 early-stage companies across 10 countries including Money Fellows in Egypt, and Reliance Health in Nigeria where P1 has a presence. The firm’s inaugural investment was in Yassir in Algeria – a super-app operating in Francophone Africa. Yassir recently announced the closing of $150 million in a Series B funding round. More recently, P1 Ventures led the Seed round of Gameball, a software company gamifying loyalty and customer retention with an international client base across 70 countries.
Such is the success of P1 Ventures’ focused, early-stage portfolio construction that for every $1 invested, P1 Ventures’ companies have gone on to raise 35x more follow-on capital, on average. This achievement stems from the deep value add that P1 Ventures brings to its portfolio companies, beyond capital. The team’s superpowers lie in the network as well as the hiring and operational value that it brings to startups. This results from decades of living and working across the continent and the partners’ multi-stage, multi-sector experience.
Noureddine Tayebi CEO and co-founder of Yassir said: “P1 Ventures was one of the most hands-on Seed investors we had: Mikael helped us source GM candidates to expand, recruit a Strategy Lead from Lyft, introduced us to Emil Michael, the former Chief Business Officer at Uber, and most importantly reinvested in every single round including our last Series B.”
About 65% of the world's remaining arable land is in Africa, creating a significant opportunity to scale up agriculture, address food security issues, and combat climate change. P1 recently launched an Entrepreneur In Residence program and seeded Nkoloso, which gathers data and keeps track of vast tracts of agricultural land using satellite imagery and AI. The company provides a wide range of applications, including tracking crop acreage and yields for credit and insurance underwriting, as well as calculating the value of timber and carbon credits.
P1 has also identified an opportunity for the pan-African region to use AI to leapfrog legacy infrastructure, particularly in antiquated sectors such as agriculture and FMCG retail. Just as mobile money in Africa leapfrogged debit and credit card infrastructure, AI can build high-fidelity data and enhance the time-to-value proposition to transform sectors.
FMCG is one of the largest, most fragmented and informal industries in Africa. P1 recently invested in a Senegalese startup that leverages computer vision, geolocation and conversational AI technologies to gather and analyse data, providing actionable solutions for brands and distributors. P1 believes this can be expanded in other industries such as healthcare, consumer electronics distribution or the creative economy.
While AI is a huge opportunity for the continent, it can also accelerate the distribution and potential of venture capital, if used strategically by investors with deep knowledge. P1 Ventures is embedding AI in its own workflow to source deals and augment its investing team, helping the firm have even greater reach in a region where information and data are notoriously scarce. In building the most comprehensive database of African startups to date, P1 can be even more useful to the portfolio companies it invests in.
P1 Ventures’ new fund will build on the success of the first fund as well as the huge opportunity in Africa’s startup tech sector. Africa was one of only a handful of tech ecosystems to see increased VC funding in 2022 when global VC funding fell by 35%. Africa has experienced the fastest VC growth globally, with almost $6bn deployed in African startups in the past year alone. African founders have also been capital efficient, over $10bn of enterprise value has been created across only 12 technology companies - including P1 Ventures’ Yassir. Over 10 years, less than $20bn of VC has been invested across the entire continent. However, some $3 trillion of consumer spending is forecast for the region.
By 2040, Africa is expected to be home to 12 cities of more than ten million people. Over the next two decades, more than 500 million people will migrate to its cities creating the largest total number of urban dwellers in the world. By 2050, one-third of Africans will be under 35 emphasising the rapid digitisation of the continent and the opportunities for startups across all sectors.
“Innovation across the African continent is booming and P1 is ideally positioned to help African entrepreneurs at the earliest stages build a valuable and enduring business,” senior advisory committee member Bernard Dalle said.