London's Sturgeon Capital launches $35M fund aimed at emerging startups in Central Asia

We reported last year on the launch of a $225 million VC platform from the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank, which would also cover Central Asia. In addition, Most VC launched its accelerator out of Almaty, Kazakhstan. So it’s clear these regions, for too long considered backwaters, are now finding their feet as a new wave of tech talent comes online, eager to join the tech industry and the startup ecosystem. Indeed, they are following a similar path to the wave of tech VC investment that hit countries like Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil in the last few years.

Taking advantage of that today is Sturgeon Capital, a London-based VC, which plans to invest in early-stage startups in the emerging markets of Central Asia and South Asia (excluding India).

Sturgeon's latest VC fund, Sturgeon Emerging Opportunities II (SEO II), will deploy its $35 million fund, building on its previous fund (SEO I), a 2020 vintage fund that has made 18 investments focused at seed up till Series A. SEO II will continue to invest in fintech, B2B software and marketplace business models.

Kiyan Zandiyeh, Sturgeon's managing partner, said in a statement: “Sturgeon’s on-the-ground presence in each market allows us to see all deal flow, due diligence it effectively, and provide true value add support post investment.”

Commenting on the new fund, Alex Branton, a partner at Sturgeon added: “SEO II is investing in the rapid digitalisation of some of the world’s least developed countries that are following the emerging markets’ technology playbook, proven in multiple comparable markets over the last decade. Sturgeon is a for profit and for-impact investor, with an impact strategy built on three pillars of employment, financial inclusion, and gender.”

Since launching in February 2023, the new fund has made investments in Shikho (Bangladeshi edtech) and Oasis MFI (Central Asia fintech).