Norrsken opens East Africa startup fund and hub in Kigali

Startups in East Africa have a new source for investment and mentorship.
Swedens Norrsken Foundationa coworking space and investment fund based in Stockholmopened its tech fund and entrepreneurship hub in Rwanda today to support ventures across the region.
Norrskens Kigali center is located on the former Ecole Belge campusand will begin with seed investments of $25K to $100K for early stage startups in all sectors starting this year, Norrsken CEO Erik Engellau-Nilsson told TechCrunch.
The fund size is still being determined and Norrsken Kigali will extend the fund to larger series-stage investments from $100K to $1 million in the future.
Norrskens Fredrika Wessman is the head of Africa expansion and the organization is in the process of hiring a local director for its new Kigali operation.
The Swedish foundations move into Rwanda is strongly connected to the organizations focus on the power of tech entrepreneurs to solve problems and generate capacity.
We believe the single most important thing we can do here is help people get wealthy, because if that happens more investors will start to look at this region and see theres business opportunities and bring more capital, said Engellau-Nilsson.
The aim is to build the biggest hub for entrepreneurship in East Africa.
Startups that receive Norrsken funding from its Kigali center will receive mentorship and support of the overall Norrsken organization and network. That includes unicorn founders, leading tech founders, and developers. We also look to expand that network to local accelerators and incubators, said Engellau-Nilsson.
The Kigali center is Norrskens first launch outside of Sweden and the organization looks to open in 25 markets globally over the next decade.
Norrsken was formed in 2016 by Niklas Adalberth, the founder of Swedish payments solutions unicorn Klarna. Engellau-Nilsson was an exec with Adalberth at Klarna from 2013 to 2017, and both aimed to do more to support impact-driven, early stage ventures.
We wanted to use our experience and tech to solve real problems instead of finding another way to do things like deliver burritos faster, said Engellau-Nilsson.
Over 340 entrepreneurs and 120 companies currently work out of Norrskens Stockholm location. The organizations fund has invested in 17 ventures, including three Africa focused startupsagtech company Wefarm, digital publisher Kognity, and weather forecasting firm Ignitia.
Norrsken chose Rwanda as the base for its East African for the countrys progress over the last decade on infrastructure, increasing internet penetration, and improving its business environment. In 2019, Rwanda ranked higher than any African country on the World Banks Ease of Doing Business list, 29th, before Spain.
Though the country has a relatively small population (12 million) and tech scene, the government of Rwanda has prioritized tech events and development in the country. This includes becoming a leader on drone delivery and regulatory systems, working most notably with San Francisco based UAV startup Zipline.

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