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Dhekra Khelifi : architect of africa’s technological future

Dhekra Khelifi, founding-partner of 216 Capital Ventures, embodies a promising vision for tech investment in Africa. With a solid background in venture capital and an extensive network, she plays a key role in the success of tech startups, thus catalyzing innovation and economic growth across the continent.

Dhekra Khelifi epitomizes the energy, boldness, expertise, and optimism of entrepreneurship in Africa. Describing herself as a «pure Tunisian product,» she is a true visionary who has successfully navigated the complex worlds of investment and technological innovation. With what she calls «an unconventional journey» that began in marketing and ended up in investment.

A graduate of the Higher Institute of Management in Tunis, she continued her studies in France before returning to Tunisia during a pivotal moment in its history, the revolution, « with great hope for change in the country. « While she initially started her career in digital marketing, she soon delved into the world of technology, which she never left. « I was working in an agency, one of my clients was Samsung. This was during the period when Samsung started to seriously compete with Apple in smartphones. It offered me the opportunity to delveinto innovation and tech. I spent 4 years there with the main mission of sourcing innovation. The Tunisian ecosystem started at the same time. Initiatives were being set up to support this emerging ecosystem, such as establishing the first incubator in universities. I had a lot of fun there, and I learned a lot too. »

I’d been talking about startups for ten years without ever having been in one, so I felt a bit illegitimate. So I took a leap of faith and joined a gaming and e-sports startup, Galactect.

@216 capital

Her journey then led her to actively work within Tunisia’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, contributing to innovative initiatives such as the first university incubators. Over the course of these six years, she played a significant role in the development of young tech companies, particularly in facilitating their access to funding and markets.

This experience served as the catalyst that propelled her to delve deeper into the realms of innovation and tech. This led to a period of « self-reflection ». « I had been talking about startups for ten years without ever having been in one; I felt somewhat illegitimate. So, I took a leap of faith by joining a startup in gaming and e-sports, Galactech. »

It was during this period of self-reflection that she met her future partners at 216 Capital Ventures, a meeting that would address her concerns. Together, they gave birth to an ambitious vision: to create an investment fund dedicated to African startups, with the goal of supporting and guiding entrepreneurs who are shaping the continent’s future.

€4,3 million in 15 startups

Since its inception, 216 Capital Ventures has emerged as a major player in early-stage financing in Africa. With a fund of €10 million, they have invested in around fifteen promising startups, covering a wide range of sectors from digital health to renewable energy. « We started investing in August 2022, through a €10 million fund. Thanks to innovation in Tunisian regulation, we can invest in foreign currencies. We’re addressing this issue. The average ticket size is around €250,000. We don’t necessarily focus on the sector, but we are very focused on technology. We have made investments in various sectors, such as e-health, logistics, fintech, energy… The last two operations were in Senegalese startups, Logidoo and ProXalys. Since August 2022, we have been able to invest in 15 startups from different countries, as well as in the diaspora, African project holders. We funded their startups to help them establish themselves on the continent. In total, we invested €4,3 million in these 15 startups. »

Dhekra and her team’s vision goes beyond financial investment. Their goal is to catalyze the emergence of a dynamic technological ecosystem in Africa by fostering collaboration among various sector stakeholders and encouraging innovation at all levels. « Our vision is to position ourselves as a player in early-stage financing for African project holders and the diaspora and to evolve local tech ecosystems. To do this, we have co-invested with Moroccan and Senegalese funds, and why not tomorrow with Algerian and other funds… »

My mission is Africa

As a seasoned and passionate investor, Dhekra, unlike her peers who highlight the decline of this African technological ecosystem as investment, after record years, declines, firmly believes in Africa’s potential to become a global hub of technological innovation. « If we carefully observe what happened in 2023, we indeed see a 28% decline in African tech. 400 funded startups is 50% less than the previous year, which is very telling. Investors, who are not African, came, looked around a bit, bet on a trend, and when this financing winter arrived, they thought Africa could wait. On the other hand, those who gave these positive signals are mostly the 50% local investors who invested in the 400 funded startups. Hence our desire to multiply co-investment, with African funds, their focus is Africa. My mission is Africa. »

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