Exclusive: Frontier Digital Ventures invests in Congo’s Carwangu.com

Visual from the company website. September 2015

Frontier Digital Ventures (FDV), the venture investment unit under Malaysia’s Catcha Group that focuses on frontier markets, has yet another African investment to park under its stable – Carwangu.com, an automotive portal based in DR Congo.

While FDV has not been disclosing its investment amounts, an executive familiar with the firm told DEALSTREETASIA that the firm typically invests in the region of $500,000 to $5 million.

In previous press releases about its investments, FDV has always said it aims to further grow the portfolio companies into leading classifieds businesses, building on their track record in the markets they operate in.

Details of Carwangu.com’s traction were not revealed. On its Facebook page, the company termed itself as a premier automotive classifieds portal. The portal is established by the Internet Ventures Congo, which Steve Nkashama co-founded. Internet Ventures Congo has a slew of other classifieds portals for jobs, hotels and dating.

Kuala Lumpur-based FDV has been investing in the African continent since June 2015, when it first invested into Tanzania’s general classifieds site Kupatana.com. Kupatana.com also operates in Uganda.

Since then, its consecutive investments have all been secured around the continent – Mozambique’s online property classifieds Propertymaputo.com and Morrocco’s automotive portal Moteur.ma in July.

After that, the firm focused on deals in West Africa, sealing a deal in Ghana’s property listing site MeQasa last month. Just a week ago, FDV also completed a deal with Afribaba Holdings, which targets francophone markets like Senegal, Cameroon and Ivory Coast.

Related story: Frontier Digital Ventures clocks 5th African investment with Afribaba deal

Carwangu.com is FDV’s sixth investment in Africa, yet the firm remains optimistic of the potential the frontier markets in Africa.

Going forward, the firm has its eyes set on the Middle East and North Africa for deal-hunting.

In particular, the firm is keen on investment potentials in Iran and Egypt, the executive said.

“Africa has about 10 to 12 really good markets, then then when you look at the next level, like tier-2 markets, there are also opportunities there. There are also emerging markets like Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana but a large number of African markets are in the early stages,” the executive noted.

The executive added that FDV is aiming to complete 20 deals by June 2016, and possibly secure 25 investments by 2017.

“As of now, FDV has completed 12 deals in the past 12 months, which is quite a good record,” the executive said.

When speaking to DEALSTREETASIA at the sidelines of the recent Wild Digital technopreneur conference, FDV chief executive officer Shaun Di Gregorio said the firm was looking to have about 25 investments done by the third year in operations.

“We will see if we can hit 25 (investments) in Year 3, we will see if it makes sense. So far we are on track, we are not too fixated on the number of deals; it has to be the right opportunities at the right time,” he said.

FDV had last year in October said it was targeting a portfolio of 30 companies, with 15 deals sealed mid-2015.

Set up in May 2014, FDV’s mission is to become the leading operator of online classifieds businesses in frontier markets.

While the firm started its portfolio with Pakistan and Myanmar investments, Di Gregorio said the Southeast Asia is not a focus region as it is mostly made of emerging markets.

“Maybe (we will look at) Cambodia, but it is a very small market,” he added, noting that FDV is more keen on larger frontier markets.

Also read:

Frontier Digital Ventures buys 32% in Moroccan automotive portal Moteur.ma

Frontier Digital Ventures acquires stake in Propertymaputo.com

Frontier Digital Ventures invests in Tanzania’s Kupatana.com

Exclusive: Frontier Digital Ventures invests in Panama’s Encuentra24.com

Frontier Digital Ventures enters Myanmar with two deals

Frontier Digital Ventures invests $3.5m in PakWheels.com

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.