Bozza boss Emma Kaye has revealed to Ventureburn that Africa-friendly Omidyar Network made a sizable investment in the company. Bozza, which is currently based in South Africa, adds Omidyar as a second Venture Capital funder after securing investment from Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa in 2011.
The startup is a video-based mobile social networking service aimed at township users. Its primary focus is to give a voice to the Pan-African market. Bozza provides a platform for youth to create their own content about their lives and environment. In its own words, the service focuses on “contextually relevant made-for-mobile content”.
The Omidyar Network, which was established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, has a vested interest in Africa with more than 12 listed in investments on the continent. What’s very interesting about the network’s investment into Bozza is that it is one of its “for profit” investments on the continent. Until now, a large portion of Omidyar’s investments on the continent have been “nonprofit” investments on the continent.
Among the previous South African recipients of Omidyar funding is the Praekelt Foundation, which in 2010 secured US$825 000 worth of funding because of its “pioneering use of mobile technology to drive positive social change”.
“What’s great about Omidyar that they are moving away from just grants and really looking at Africa a place for investment,” says Kaye.
Omidyar’s other for profit investments on the continent include Bridge International Academies, a chain of primary schools offering high-quality education at an affordable price to families living on less than US$2 a day per person, and Zoona, a mobile payments solution targeting the South Africa market.
Bozza is mum about the amount of money Omidyar has put into the company but according to Kaye the relationship with the network is much more than money more about “human capital”.
“Our relationship with Omidyar in the last year is gone beyond my expectations, simply because it has not been about the cash but the added value particularly from a human capital perspective,” says Kaye.
Kaye reckons that because Omidyar cares about social impact and a long-term play in Africa it is a value asset for Bozza.
Earlier this year the network released an extensive 48-page report on the state of entrepreneurship in Africa, highlighting the challenges faced by startups in the continent. One of the largest issues it identified was a lack of funding and while the Omidyar Network can’t solve that issue on its own, investments from an organisation with as much cred as it has in startups like Bozza should help convince other major VCs that Africa is a continent worth their time.