Young Japanese investor launches $4.5M seed fund for startups in Sub-Saharan Africa

Takuma Terakubo (left)
Image credit: Leapfrog Ventures

See the original story in Japanese.

Similar to Singapore that has won a place as a startup hub in the entire Southeast Asian region, we recently reported in a coverage of Transform Africa Summit that Rwanda wants to become one in the Sub-Saharan African region. And now, there’s one young Japanese who has moved here to start fostering local startups. He is Takuma Terakubo who previously worked for Tokyo-based startup incubator Samurai Incubate.

Terakubo revealed this time around that he has founded Leapfrog Ventures, a joint venture with Samurai Incubate, to invest in seed-stage startups of Eastern Africa, centered on Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The fund is worth 500 million yen (approximately $4.5 million), with planned investment up to $50,000 in each of about 80 startups. The company’s name is derived from Leapfrogging, which is often seen in the Next Billion market these days.

Terakubo joined Q&A session at the Face the Gorillas reality show at Transform Africa Summit in May.
Image credit: Kozue Ishii

The fund’s targeted verticals include logistics, finance, healthcare, agriculture and energy-related businesses. Terakubo is serving JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) in Rwanda as an ICT incubator for the organization’s innovation ecosystem strengthening project, in addition to having built solid relationships with Rwandan governmental agencies and VC firms/accelerators in neighboring countries. He intends to deal with prominent local startups to invest in leveraging these vast networks. He is expected to be based at kLab, a renowned co-working space in the Rwandan capital, plus at other locations.

In addition to making massive investments in local startups, Leapfrog Ventures wants to foster entrepreneurs by leveraging the region’s unique demographics that the younger generation accounts for the vast majority. By forming Tech SandBox in cooperation with the Rwandan Government, the company wants to create open innovation opportunities between Japan and Rwanda so that Japanese companies can easily conduct PoC (proof-of-concept) tests without concern about regulations.

Partnerships with VCs/accelerators in Africa
Image credit: Leapfrog Ventures

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Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy