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Knife Capital: $50m Series B fund triumphs

Keet van Zyl and Andrea Bohmert, co-founders of Knife Capital, leading the charge for African innovation. Photo: Supplied
Keet van Zyl and Andrea Bohmert, co-founders of Knife Capital, leading the charge for African innovation. Photo: Supplied

In a significant development for African innovation, Knife Capital has successfully concluded the final close of its $50 million African Series B expansion fund, Knife Fund III. The fund’s mission is to bridge a crucial funding gap that hinders the growth trajectory of innovation-driven companies across the continent, providing them with the necessary capital infusion to thrive.

“We are delighted to bring together such a credible investor base with a reason to care about the growth of venture capital investments in Africa,” said Keet van Zyl, co-founder of Knife Capital.

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The firm, founded in 2010 by Van Zyl and Eben van Heerden, is renowned for its expertise in nurturing start-ups and successfully navigating them through strategic acquisitions.

African start-ups with immense potential often face challenges in securing follow-on funding beyond the Series A stage, stalling their progress towards global expansion. Knife Fund III aims to address this issue head-on by supporting high-growth, scalable South African B2B technology companies that exhibit impact potential and promising returns through various exit options.

Moreover, the fund is poised to collaborate with adept local partners to extend its support to entrepreneurs in other African countries who align with its investment profile.

“Being an early investor in both Knife Fund II and the Knife-backed Grindstone Accelerator, the SA SME Fund is extremely proud of what the Knife Capital team has been able to achieve here,” shared Ketso Gordhan, CEO of the SA SME Fund.

“Having a home-grown VC fund in Knife Capital with assets under management of ZAR1.3 billion is just a phenomenal growth story for the industry, and testament to what can be done with support of the broader ecosystem.”

Knife Capital is a pioneering South African venture capital firm, dedicated to propelling innovation-driven start-ups towards success. With a proven track record in nurturing and strategically advancing businesses, it plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of African entrepreneurship. Photo: Supplied

Knife Capital’s success in curating a deal pipeline of early-stage investments through its Grindstone Accelerator program, combined with its noteworthy track record of exit-centric business building, has positioned the firm as a significant player in the African venture capital space.

“We have been impressed with the thoroughness of the Knife Capital Team and their capital preservation mindset in a highly competitive venture capital, growth equity world,” remarked Conrad Amm, Group CEO of Skybound Capital.

“They have successfully partnered with their investee companies and provided strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs build successful businesses, that have created significant employment, skills transfer and exit readiness.”

The fund’s investor roster is notably diverse, including names like the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC), the SA SME Fund, Standard Bank, AfricaGrow, and Fireball Capital, among others. This convergence of support underscores the widespread belief in the potential of venture capital investments to drive economic growth and transformation across Africa.

With investments already made in companies like DataProphet, an AI-enabled process optimisation firm, and Kasha, a digital health access platform, Knife Fund III has hit the ground running, poised to play a pivotal role in advancing innovation, job creation, and economic progress on the African continent.

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