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WeChat Africa has announced its plan to invest $3.5 million in tech startups in Africa through a process of application and selection. WeChat wants to “support local entrepreneurs and technology innovations.” The fund is aimed at providing support for the startups to enter the market via the WeChat platform.

Batstone Ventures, a South African tech strategy practice firm, will be tasked with identifying early stage investment opportunities among African tech startups. The firm will support the selected startups by providing consulting services to help through their entry and growth phase. Interested startups can start applying for funds from January 18, 2016.

Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa, says the fund “aims to provide financial support to businesses so that they can effectively get on the WeChat platform. This will include technical integration and communications tactics across the Naspers’ stable and other suited channels.”

To add to that, Alexandra Fraser, director of Batstone Ventures, said, “Our experience in the past two years has demonstrated that many companies have huge potential but are unable to communicate what they do clearly. We don’t want to miss the chance to work with smart businesses just because they can’t succinctly tell us what they can do in an online form so our process will include a face-to-face workshop element to mitigate this risk.”

The focus of the programme will be locating businesses with initial market validation and a “viable product and could clearly benefit from WeChat’s technology platform and the accompanying access to potential consumers.”

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David Adeleke | Author