Tuesday, 23, July, 2024

To promote digital economies and support the growth of early-stage tech startups in Central Asia, IFC will invest up to $5 million in Sturgeon Emerging Opportunities II, LP a new venture capital fund managed by Sturgeon Capital, a major venture capital investor.

Sturgeon Emerging Opportunities Fund II will focus on startups in areas such as fintech, business-to-business platforms, agritech, healthtech, and ed-tech. It aims to help emerging entrepreneurs scale their businesses, improve operational efficiency, and create long-term employment opportunities in the regions.

“We believe technological innovations can help solve some of the key challenges in emerging markets, including job creation and financial inclusion,” said Kiyan Zandiyeh, Sturgeon’s founding partner. "We are delighted to have IFC join the first close of Sturgeon Emerging Opportunities II as the first institutional investor. We look forward to working with IFC and our other investors to support tech startups and address a significant funding gap in the regions’ tech ecosystem."

The fund will mainly invest in Central Asia, but it will also look for opportunities in other emerging markets, such as Egypt and Pakistan. Sturgeon Capital estimates that the tech startup industry in these countries could generate nearly $300 million in annual digital revenue by 2030, benefiting more than half a billion people. Local tech start-ups, however, often face challenges raising capital to launch and scale their products and services.

“Venture capital is gaining traction across Central Asia, but it’s still a nascent market underserved by foreign investments,” said Wiebke Schloemer, IFC’s Director for Türkiye and Central Asia. “By investing in funds like Sturgeon, IFC aims to bring much-needed capital to the most innovative local businesses. This support will enable them to scale and pave the way for more institutional and private investors, replicating the successes we have seen in other regions.” 

IFC’s investment in Sturgeon is part of IFC’s Startup Catalyst program, which addresses funding gaps in underserved venture capital ecosystems by investing in incubators, accelerators, and seed funds focused on emerging markets. The program targets high-risk markets, including in some of the world’s poorest and fragile countries. Since 2016, the program has supported more than 2,800 entrepreneurs, including 700 women, in 24 countries through 21 funds.

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