Telecoms giant, Orange, has announced the spinoff of its VC arm, Orange Ventures, into a separate entity and allocated 350 million euros for its takeoff to make it more agile and competitive in seeking out and supporting the best start-up talent worldwide.
Orange Ventures invests in high-growth sectors, in areas traditional to Orange expertise such as connectivity, cybersecurity, the digital enterprise, and innovative financial services, as well as new territories that the group is exploring, like e-health.
With offices in Paris and Dakar, Orange Ventures supports start-ups at all stages of maturity, from seed stage start-ups in Africa and the Middle East, to more mature companies in Europe and the United States, with investment tickets up to 20 million euros per financing round.
For Orange, the purpose of the VC is to promote the emergence of future technological champions who support the transition to an increasingly digital and responsible world, at the service of all, by sharing their innovation capabilities with its 256 million customers worldwide. To achieve this, Orange Ventures differentiates by proposing a highly structured process for exploring and creating flexible and optional synergies between Orange and start-ups.
Orange Ventures aims to achieve the financial performance of the best venture capital investment companies, and will make its investment decisions autonomously. The Orange Ventures team, made up of twenty people, has thus been strengthened with established experts from the venture capital industry, and will also take over the management of the portfolio of the Orange Digital Ventures initiative launched in 2015.
“Our wish is to constitute an organisation which combines the best of both worlds: Orange’s business expertise as well as the agility of decision-making and the quality of the financial monitoring of the best investment funds. We closely support each start-up post-investment in order to contribute to its development and facilitate its direct and structured access to the Orange ecosystem whenever it is relevant,” Jérôme Berger, President and Managing Partner of Orange said.
Mid-last year, Orange announced a plan to expand digital financial services in Africa and the Middle East. It was part of the company’s new approach of using technology to expand its businesses and discover new grounds in telemedicine and fintech.
Orange Chairman and CEO, Stéphane Richard, explains then that there is a huge gap in the African financial sector that needs to be filled and it falls in line with the company’s strategy.
“New technology is needed to strengthen financial inclusion and support economic development, as proven by mobile money over the past few years. Banking is a new area of business for Orange in Africa. It falls squarely in line with our strategy as a multi-service operator and our desire to drive the digital transformation forward in Africa,” he said.
There has been a significant increase in the number of startups fixing many frictions around the world, particularly in Africa where the markets are untapped. That leaves a lot of investment openings. And as the investors race to grab shares in different sectors of the market, Orange knew it’s time to tag along.
Orange Ventures will aim to invest in as many of the startups as possible, a move that will save Orange the cost of creating many of the businesses that it finds interesting.