KENYA – Pariti, a Kenya-based community-led marketplace building the digital infrastructure for startup ecosystems in emerging markets, has raised US$2.85 million seed, the company confirmed to TechCrunch.

The round was led by U.S.-based Harlem Capital, and in Africa, it’s the first deal of the diversity-focused fund that secured US$134 million for its second fund In early 2021.

Other investors were Better Ventures, Accelerated Ventures, Diverse Angels, AVG Basecamp, and New General Market Partners.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Harlem Capital,” co-founder and CEO Yacob Berhane said of Harlem’s participation.

“Their focus on data, process and supporting underserved ecosystems aligns perfectly with our mission and makes them an amazing partner for us to build with.”

Pariti was founded by Yacob Berhane and Wossen Ayele in 2019 and in the past year, CEO Berhane said the company has grown 795% and attributed this growth to the pandemic and how the African tech ecosystem has hit an inflection point, minting half a dozen unicorns within this period.

“The pandemic was a Black Swan event because we saw a major jump in activity on our platform. Remote staffing and remote investing accelerated tremendously. This was a bet we made a while back but obviously could not anticipate what was coming,” Berhane said to TechCrunch.

“And after taking nearly ten years to get Africa’s first unicorn, we had six announced in roughly six months. This led to a significant increase of interest from local and international investors for African start-ups.

Pariti’s principal product is the Recommendation Engine, where founders submit their companies for review and feedback from experts on the platform and the engine suggests personalized next steps for the founders to take in areas where the company needs help.

The Kenya-based marketplace also helps talent monetize their skills and VCs and angels to find, vet and execute deals.

Berhane mentions that Pariti’s pitch assessment and recommendation engine also has some predictability features where the platform can tell how companies will perform with fundraising.

“So we’ve looked at the companies that have been able to go on and raise money after submitting the Pariti pitch review, and companies that score over 70 on a Pariti score have a 50% likelihood of connecting successfully with investors,” the CEO said. 

“But companies that score above 78 have shown correlation to having 8x likelihood of raising capital, which is pretty dramatic.”

Pariti seed funding will allow it to build SaaS workflows to aggregate multiple forms of raising capital, from traditional equity and debt to DeFi solutions.

The company also plans to enhance its talent marketplace, create a bespoke solution for investors looking to invest and support founders, hire talent, build bigger communities and expand into new markets.

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