Novastar Ventures East Africa Fund I LP

Kenya, Uganda Education, Other consumer services, Food and agriculture, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Health, Communications and IT Services, Financial services

Novastar Ventures is a Nairobi-based venture capital firm which specialises in early stage ventures in East Africa.  The firm primarily invests in education, healthcare, agri-businesses, food, and water sectors which target low-income communities. Novastar Ventures East Africa Fund I is a venture fund that invests in innovative, early-stage businesses that widen market access and provide economic opportunities for low-income, mass market populations in East Africa.

Our investment

In 2014, CDC made a $15 million commitment to the Novastar Ventures East Africa Fund, alongside the EIB, the Dutch Good Growth Fund and other European DFIs including Norway's Norfund, the Netherlands'FMO, and France's Proparco.  Other investors include AXA, JPMorgan Chase, and Hivos-Triodos Fund. It was the first investment made by the Impact Fund.

Expected impact

The fund provides capital and support to early stage innovative businesses to help them scale successfully. Novastar invests in businesses that improve access to affordable goods and services such as healthcare, energy, education and sanitation to low income populations. 

The fund's investments include companies such as Sanergy, a Kenyan franchise which provides small-scale, high-quality sanitation facilities in Nairobi's urban slums. 

It has also invested in Komaza, a forestry company, which works with over 9,000 subsistence farmers in Eastern Kenya to address the large and fast-growing demand for wood products.

Environmental and social aspects

We are working closely with the fund manager to improve its existing Environmental and Social Management System, including delivering an action plan.

Key facts


Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.

Africa, East Africa

We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people. For funds, the sectors listed here are those the fund has invested in so far.

Communications and IT Services, Education, Financial services, Food and agriculture, Health, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Other consumer services
Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

Intermediated investment
Fund manager:
Novastar Ventures limited
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date CDC committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that CDC committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

March 2014

For direct investments, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the fund.


This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.


Investments made by this fund

  • Active
  • Exited
Investment name Country Region Sector Start date Status
Bridge International Academies

Nairobi-based Bridge International Academies is a provider of affordable, quality primary and pre-primary education for children from poor families. Founded in 2007, the organisation currently serves more than 120,000 pupils in more than 600 nursery and primary schools across Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia and India. Through the use of data and technology, the Bridge model streamlines school administration, delivers lesson plans to teachers and facilitates classroom management and academy construction. Its learning methods have shown substantial learning gains in randomised control trials and national primary exit examinations. The company is a pioneer in public-private partnerships, utilising its technology to improve outcomes in the public sector.

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East Africa, West Africa Education March 2014 Active
Mfarm Ltd

Mfarm is an agriculture services and technology company seeking to create an SMS and web-based commodity exchange for the 5 million smallerholder farmers in Kenya.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Food and agriculture June 2014 Active
Sanergy Inc.

Sanergy Ltd is the Kenyan franchiser of small-scale high-quality sanitation centres in Nairobi's urban slums that provide the raw materials for a range of byproducts, including organic fertiliser and animal feed.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Food and agriculture June 2014 Active
The Paradigm Project L3C

The Paradigm Project manufactures and sells clean, fuel-efficient cooking stoves and a range of other products to consumers with a primary focus on Kenya and, more recently, Ethiopia.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Manufacturing June 2014 Active

SolarNow sells modular household solar systems, along with appliances, to the off-grid market in Uganda. The systems are modular so customers can upgrade to larger capacities as their energy needs increase.

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Uganda Africa, East Africa Financial services October 2014 Active
Komaza FPC

Komaza is a vertically integrated micro-forestry-to-wood products company working with subsistence dryland farmers in Eastern Kenya to address a large and fast-growing market for wood and wood products.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Manufacturing March 2015 Active
Soko Inc.

Soko designs ethically sourced fast fashion jewellery from a growing network of low income Kenyan artisans and sells to consumers in the USA through fashion boutiques, established retail chains and through their own website.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Other consumer services April 2015 Active
HiviSasa (Mobile Web Limited)

HiviSasa is a low cost, mobile phone based platform for the delivery of local news and targeted advertising. Content is generated by local journalists and distributed free to any web enabled phone, funded by inexpensive advertising.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Other consumer services June 2015 Active
Poa International Ltd

Poa provides low cost internet to individuals and small businesses in low-income neighborhoods in East Africa.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Communications and IT Services June 2016 Active
Penda Health Ltd

Penda Health is a growing chain of outpatient primary healthcare centres serving low-income but highly populated areas of Nairobi. Compared to other high quality healthcare facilities, treatment at Penda can be up to 83% cheaper. The company has plans to open over 100 medical centres across East Africa in the next five years.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Health August 2016 Active
PayGo Energy

PayGo Energy is a distribution service that harnesses the power of pay-as-you-go-technology to bring modern LPG fuel and cooking equipment to homes. PayGo Energy installs smart metering systems on gas cylinders that enable customers to pre-pay for cooking gas. The smart meters monitor customer gas consumption and predict when gas is going to run out which allows for proactive replenishment of gas.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Infrastructure April 2017 Active
Lynk Jobs Limited

Lynk solves the problems faced by informal workers and the households and businesses seeking their services. Lynk's digital platform connects informal workers with customers who require services such as housekeeping, plumbing, electrical work and carpentry. Lynk's systems enable the effective recruitment of workers, smart matching of the workers to jobs and a customer rating system that helps workers to build the skills profile.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Other consumer services May 2017 Active
iProcure Limited

iProcure is one of the largest agricultural supply chain platforms in rural Africa, connecting smallholder farmers with the high quality agricultral inputs they need when they need them. Leveraging a proprietary ERP platform, mobile technology, and its own depots, iProcure has developed a demand led, data-driven connection between input manufacturers and smallholder farmers.

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Kenya Africa, East Africa Food and agriculture June 2017 Active
GreenPath April 2018 Active
Moko Home & Living Company September 2018 Active