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New $1m COVID-19 Relief Fund to back Ugandan startups with innovative solutions

The Uganda-based 97Fund has launched a US$1 million COVID-19 Relief Fund to invest in solutions targeting and addressing challenges caused by the pandemic and solutions that prepare Uganda for a post-COVID-19 environment.

Ola Olaoluwa
Ola Olaoluwa

The 97Fund, which invests in high-growth, early-stage companies in Africa and is managed by Ortus Africa Capital, said the COVID-19 Relief Fund supports promising entrepreneurs to scale and develop solutions that will help Uganda emerge from the coronavirus crisis and create competitive advantage for the post-crisis period.

It is targeting companies that are responding to the pandemic while creating jobs, in areas such as providing healthcare services, re-imagining business models in sectors like tourism, education and finance, new ways of working, supply chains and logistics, and digital economy.

Image Credit: Stock Image

The COVID-19 Relief Fund offers US$2,000-US$10,000 as an equity-free grant, with an opportunity for follow-on funding from The 97Fund and co-investment partners, as well as access to workspace and mentorship. Rolling applications are being received here. So far, the fund has received applications from over 130 entrepreneurs, with three demo days having identified 22 solutions to put to the investment committee.

“The disruptive impact of COVID-19 on Uganda’s social and economic landscape is beginning to be felt by different businesses. There is therefore a need to ensure economic and business continuity happens in a way that prepares for long lasting growth and sustainability to also mitigate future crises,” said Kenneth Legesi, managing partner at Ortus Africa Capital.

The COVID-19 Relief Fund has been seeded initially with US$1 million from The Innovation Village as part of the Young Africa Works Programme supported by Mastercard Foundation.

Financial inclusion

Ola Olaoluwa

Writer | Economist | Actor | Fashion Entrepreneur