VestedWorld, the Chicago-based impact investor, has made two investments in Vanu, an Africa-focused internet software startup, and in Rwanda-based GET IT, a food distributor.
Vanu manufactures equipment and software to help mobile operators build and operate cellular networks in rural areas at an affordable price. The company’s objective is to allow 1.2 billion unconnected people worldwide to access Internet users.
The current roadblock is expensive: the average cell tower costs $ 100,000 to $ 250,000 to build and $ 30,000 to $ 40,000 a year to operate, says Lavanya Anand of VestedWorld. “This dynamic makes it unprofitable to build traditional cellular towers in areas that serve less than 20,000 mobile subscribers.”
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Vanu’s towers are much cheaper to install and operate, adds Anand. “Vanu’s towers can be built and operated economically in areas with as few as 500 mobile subscribers. We believe Vanu’s solution will be a faster and more cost-effective way to extend connectivity to remote areas than tastes of the Google Loon Project “- Google’s network of” stratospheric balloons “designed to provide Internet services in remote areas.
Vanu is present in India and Rwanda and has partnered with the mobile network operator MTN in Zambia, South Africa and Benin. VestedWorld participated in series A of Vanu.
The company is looking to raise up to $ 11 million and closed $ 8.8 million in March, according to a recent SEC file.
VestedWorld now has a dozen companies in its portfolio and invests from its second fund. It recently invested in the Nigerian agro-processor Tomato Jos, alongside Alitheia Capital and Acumen. GET IT runs a food distribution and logistics company in Rwanda.
The company uses off-grid cold storage facilities to prevent spoilage of food from its own farm and other suppliers while transporting agricultural products and managing exports. VestedWorld has invested an undisclosed amount in the A series of GET IT. Nairobi-based venture capital debt company EquaLife Capital is also an investor.
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