WeChat to invest US$3.5mn in African start-ups

Mobile Use in Africa   Ken Banks   FlickrWeChat’s growth strategy is increasingly focused on integrating with early stage businesses. (Image source: Ken Banks/Flickr)Social media app WeChat has announced plans to invest US$3.5mn in technology-based start-ups across Africa

In a statement, WeChat said that the funding initiative will support local entrepreneurs and technology innovators by allowing them to promote their ideas and businesses using WeChat’s social media platform.

The statement quoted Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa, as saying, “Our fund aims to provide financial support to businesses so that they can effectively get on the WeChat platform. This will include technical integration and communications tactics across the Naspers’ stable and other suited channels.”

Naspers is a South Africa-based multinational Internet and media group, and with a market capitalisation of more than US$66bn, it is the largest company in Africa.

WeChat has partnered with Batstone Ventures, a tech strategy practice firm, to help it choose the candidates for funding. Batstone Ventures will find start-ups and other investment opportunities in the African technology sector that could benefit by using the WeChat platform. It will then provide consulting services to these start-ups and guide them through the growth phase.

WeChat has already partnered with some African start-up companies, such as Money4Jam, PicUp and Order In, all of which have tasted success by operating exclusively on the WeChat platform.

WeChat’s growth strategy is increasingly focused on integrating with early stage businesses whose models strategically fit with, and clearly demonstrate, the power of the platform and its positioning in the market.

Applications for the fund will open 18 January 2016 and start-ups will be selected based on a mix of the online application and a series of workshops.

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