Goldman Alum Takes Team, Assets to Chase Africa’s Unicorns
Jules Frebault, who formerly headed Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s principal Africa investing group, has left with some of his team and assets to pursue deals on the continent under a new vehicle dubbed Juven.
The U.S. banking giant, which has previously backed high-growth startups in Africa, agreed to sell the assets to Juven following Goldman’s internal merger of its special situations group and the merchant banking division.
Juven, based in London and Mauritius, is looking to commit up to $50 million in investments into major African technology and consumer companies. Frebault says the goal is to develop and expand a portfolio that now features the assets transferred from Goldman and includes Kenya’s digital fresh-foods distributor Twiga and South African fintech firm Jumo.
“We are continuing to invest in portfolio companies and to make two to three new investments a year,” the 33-year-old Frenchman said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We expect several unicorns to emerge from the portfolio.”
African startups are coming off a record year for venture capital deals on the continent as investors pounce on businesses that make up for a lack of access to conventional banking or take advantage of increasing internet access as more people get smartphones.
Funding for tech startups through mid-August has reached $1.2 billion, already exceeding the total raised during last year as a whole. With the largest unbanked population on the continent, Nigeria has delivered the bulk of so-called unicorn businesses worth at least $1 billion.
Goldman was involved in bringing Africa’s first unicorn to market with e-commerce company Jumia Technologies AG, dubbed “Africa’s Amazon.” It listed at a $1.9 billion value in New York two years ago.
Juven attracted initial funding from Goldman and external shareholders, and could take on more capital in the holding company as needed, according to Frebault. He wouldn’t disclose the amounts invested from Goldman’s balance sheet.
In addition to members of Goldman’s Africa team that joined Juven, the investment company has also made external hires, with further recruitment ongoing, Frebault said.
As the African market matures and more regional consolidation takes place, Frebault expects growing interest from strategic players looking to enter the continent and more opportunities for initial public offerings on different global markets.
“Several of our investments will be IPO candidates on global exchanges in the years to come,” said Frebault.
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