Silicon Valley Law Firm Sees Surge in Africa Startup Fundraising
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a law firm known for representing some of the world’s top technology companies, is expanding to help African startups raise funds from the U.S.
The Palo Alto, California-based firm helped Chipper Cash, an African cross-border payments company backed by Jeff Bezos, raise an additional $150 million in a Series C this month. There are “a couple of companies that are on that path” to listing in the U.S., Joshua Kaplan, a Wilson Sonsini partner, said in an email response to questions.
Countries in Africa have a tech-savvy youth population but the continent often lacks financial infrastructure such as banks. Companies including Chipper Cash, TeamApt Ltd. and Flutterwave Inc. are helping fill that void. African companies have raised a record $2.5 billion this year on the back of demand for everything from financial services to fresh produce distribution, according to Briter Bridges Intelligence.
“Financial technology is a sector that we see as particularly promising as it is a foundational piece of the infrastructure on which the digital economy in Africa is being built,” Kaplan said. “We are seeing particularly strong interest from U.S. investors in African Fintechs.”
Jules Frebault, who formerly headed Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s principal Africa investing group, plans to invest $50 million in companies in the continent under a new vehicle dubbed Juven. Meanwhile, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led a $400 million funding round for OPay, a Nigerian mobile-payments platform.
“We are currently advising African technology companies on a range of corporate transactions including the raising of private U.S. capital, expanding into the U.S. and engaging in M&A activity,” Kaplan said.
The firm however doesn’t plan to open up offices in Africa.
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