Gender Lens (Angel) Investor, Vuyolwethu Dubese (Article & Photo: Vuyolwethu Dubese)
Now more than ever is an exciting time for capital for startups in Africa, with over $400 million in January raised alone. However, more inflow of capital available on the continent, doesn’t mean the same access of opportunity and access for women. As Damilare Bamidele highlights in his article that “none of the funding rounds from January considered investing in startups headed by female entrepreneurs”.
This is further implicated by a report recently published by the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) and Briter Bridges. Exploring Africa’s gender gap in start-up financing, revealed that only 3% of start-up financing since 2013 went to all-women founding teams, compared to 76% for all-men founding teams.
Endless research has shown that investing in women (fund managers and entrepreneurs) catalyses economic development, competitiveness, job creation and GDP. Is the slow burn acceleration of the investment due to lesser known ways to mobilize this capital, the bias engaged in the industry, the visibility trope in the pipeline or a combination of these capabilities? The following list of funds and communities are engaging in these questions with not just capital. But their business models which make it empowering for female founders and their businesses to build gender gap confidence. And investors, to walk in high impact, high return confidence.
Vuyolwethu Dubese have listed the five following funds who are doing GLI with a difference. Recognising that this type of investment, your approach may sometimes need to be unconventional and weigh more sweat proven. Much like Yumi’s SPV initiative to add 70 women investors onto their cap table of a new $67 million Series B raise.
This is how these funds, founded by African women, for African women are doing it:
Pauline Koelbl established ShEquity in March 2020 with the sole intent of facilitating access to a pool of de-risked deals to investors and empower female entrepreneurs with financial resources of USD 50K- 250K Seed Capital and operational support needed to unlock their full potential.
The Difference: The SPV has a 16-week ShEquity Business Accelerator (SHEBA) created to help de-risk African female-led businesses, get them fit for investment and act as a bridge to closing gender funding gap in Africa. The initial focus is ECOWAS countries, with the plan to expand to other Sub-Saharan countries.
Through the FirstCheck Africa Investor Collective, co-founders Eloho Omame and Odunayo Eweniyi are building a female-led, female-focused angel fund and investor community, to make it easier for African women in tech to raise capital and ultimately become their first check.
The Difference: Early stage fund, investing a standard investing a standard first check of USD 25K
With ticket sizes of up to USD 100k, WeFundWomen is a gender smart investment community founded by Hope Ditlhakanyane for startups across Africa by connecting them to democratised capital and growth support.
The Difference: WeFundWomen has an extensive investor network across the continent that they co-invest deals. If they cannot fund you, the WeFundWomen team will help you link to an investor who will!
Portfolio includes: 3DIMO
Lauded as the first dedicated gender lens investing fund as well as the largest gender-lens private equity fund by value in Africa, Alitheia IDF is a $100 million private equity fund that is co-founded by Tokunboh Ishmael and Polo Leteka Radebe.
The Difference: The fund invests an average of $3 million in equity and mezzanine capital in SMEs based in South and West African countries
Led by Canadian-based South African, Liebe Jeannot, who is the Founder and Managing Partner, Akazi Capital is a crowd-powered impact fund, built on the blockchain, that invest up to USD 250k in early-stage ventures owned and run by female entrepreneurs across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Difference: Akazi Capital is not only built on the blockchain, but from as little as $100, investors are invited to commit to the Akazi community with their capital where investors have the ability to sell their position at any time.
For the start-up and investor criteria, inclusive of the funds and investment vehicles’ investment thesis. Kindly visit the websites provided above as well as reach out in the emails given. From ShEquity to Akazi Capital, they all invest in female founded and led companies across various sectors and geographies. So don’t be too shy to reach out.
Are there any other funds that are doing Gender-Lens Investing with a difference in Africa?. In February 2020, Vuyolwethu curated a list of funding opportunities for African women with various forms of capital from grants to venture capital. If you’re not yet ready for SAFE notes, then this Fund the African Female Founder list is just for you, or someone in your network.
The article was first published in www.vdubese.com
Dream VC applications: A peek behind the scenes
Dream VC breaking down the numbers and representation in its programs
A year ago, Dream VC quietly launched its first inaugural cohort applications with the hopes of closing the investing knowledge gap for check-writers and ecosystem builders across the continent. Fast forward one year later, they have received an overwhelming amount of interest from people curious about investing and contributing to the African startup ecosystem. Across two cohorts alone, they have processed more than 2000 applicants from 30 African countries. With fellows dialing in five continents and multiple time zones.
That being said, they’d like to share some interesting findings they have extracted and learned from the whirlwind that Dream VC has been in from last year to now.
By the end of 2022, Dream VC will have 2 cohorts under its belt with 3 programs run. There has been an increase in total applications despite the difference in price point between the 2021 program and this year.
Breakdown Of The 2021 Cohort
For its inaugural cohort, they received a total of 1002 applications and had an intake of 31 fellows, with an acceptance rate of 3%. The average age of its fellows was 25, with most being in their mid-twenties to late twenties. And exploring VC as a new career pivot after a few years of full-time work experience. After 4 months of rigorous and community-driven engagements, a total of 19 Fellows graduated from the program with an issued certification.
When looking at the specific demographics of Dream VC’s inaugural fellows, findings show that 90% of the fellows were homegrown. Which they classified as having been born, raised, and educated on the continent. They also had 12 African countries represented and 16 different Nationalities in total.
Although its initial intake consisted of 33% women, the final certified graduating fellows consisted of 60% women. Meaning that all of the female fellows who joined the fellowship finished the program.
This is a strong indication of the perseverance of its female fellows in particular. And they are committed to making a strong push to convert more women into its talent pipeline. Especially given that only 15% of the 2021 applicants identified as female. At Dream VC, they urge more women to apply for its programs and also reapply for future cohorts if they were not accepted initially.
Breakdown Of The 2022 Application Cycle
For 2022, Dream VC opened its applications on March 8th and had then remained open for over a month and a half until its final deadline on May 1st. In total, they received a total of 1,375 applications for its Launch into VC (“LIVC”) and Investor Accelerator (“IA”) programs.
Around 81% of the total applications were for our Launch into VC fellowship, and the remaining 19% were for the Investor Accelerator. We received a total number of 1,113 applications for Launch into VC, and 262 for Investor Accelerator.
Out of the total applications for 2022, 31% of the applicants identified as female. When taking a closer look at the gender breakdown for each program, Investor Accelerator had a higher percentage of female applicants with 37% of total Investor Accelerator applicants, while Launch into VC had 29%.
When reviewing the nationalities of the applicants, it was found that for 2022, Dream VC has exponentially expanded its reach of applicants in both nationality and location. However, most of the applicants are still overwhelmingly from the continent and diaspora, which accounts for 86% of the total applicants. The remaining 14% hail from non-African countries such as India, Singapore, and Germany with non-African backgrounds.
When looking more closely at each program, 87% of the applicants for Launch into VC applicants were homegrown or African diaspora, compared to 83% of the Investor Accelerator applicants. This year saw 30 different African countries across the continent represented. With a majority of the applicants coming from Nigeria (43.7%), followed by Kenya (10%), Rwanda and South Africa (3.9% each respectively), Ghana (3.6%), Uganda (3.2%), Zimbabwe (2.9%), and Tanzania (2.3%).
Interestingly, the country represented the most by the diaspora applicants was Cameroon, followed by Nigeria, across both programs.
Across the different African regions, West Africa took the lead in applicants with over half of the applicants hailing from the region (58%). East Africa contributed to another quarter with approximately 29% of applicants coming from the area, followed by Southern Africa (6%), Central Africa (4%), and finally North Africa (2%). Dream VC’s footprint can still be solidified further, particularly in the ecosystems in North Africa, and its team will be traveling actively to Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia to build relationships there.
When looking at the locations of applicants applying from outside the continent (including diaspora and non-Africans), over 50% of them applied from the United States and the United Kingdom. Dream VC also saw an increase of Indian and Singaporean applicants from Asia. And a spread of interesting European countries including Belgium, Belarus, Germany, France, Finland, and Sweden.
Closing Remarks & Reflections
Since launching Dream VC in 2021, the team has been endlessly grateful for the overwhelming interest from the African & International community. As well as the selfless support that has been extended by various ecosystem partners and connections in our network.
Its application cycles have revealed several interesting insights into where the strong interest can be found in various startup ecosystems. As well as certain areas we are endeavoring to have better reach in (ex: North Africa and Arabophone countries).
They also strongly encourage more female applicants to apply AND reapply to its programs. As they are strongly committed to building out the opportunity and talent pipeline for black women in particular focused on investing in Africa.
Base10 Partners Led By Adeyemi Ajao Becomes First Black-Led VC Firm To Cross $1 Billion AUM With New Fund
Base10 Partners co-Founder and CEO, Adeyemi Ajao (Source Adeyemi Ajao Image: Base10)
With today’s announcement of our newest fund, Base10 now has $1.3B in assets under management, just three and a half years after announcing our debut $137M Fund I.
A venture capital firm managing $1B in assets is not as newsworthy as it once was; many of the firms we work and co-invest with routinely raise multi-billion dollar funds. In fact, the VC industry as a whole raised $128B last year.
What is newsworthy, for better or for worse, is that we are the first black-led fund to cross that $1B threshold, which is both encouraging and a sobering reflection of how much work we collectively still have to do.
And while we are honored and energized to keep pushing forward, we are thankful to not be pushing forward alone. If there is one message we want to focus on today, it’s “thank you”: Thank you to the entrepreneurs that decided to work with us, choosing a new firm like Base10 over much more established groups and deciding to build alongside us. It is an honor and it is a lot of fun.
Thank you to our investors, who took a chance on TJ and myself when we were just two people with a new idea in venture, and have supported us every step of the way. You have encouraged us to embrace principles from venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds, all while continuing to think radically like the entrepreneurs we are at heart.
Thank you to our team, who decided to leave jobs at much larger venture capital firms, promising startups, and well-established corporations to execute on the ambitious (and sometimes bizarre) goals and visions we put in front of them every day.
And thank you to the proverbial Silicon Valley: a truly indescribable cohort of co-investors, mentors, journalists, and advisors. Silicon Valley is, in fact, imperfect, and feels criticized on a daily basis from the outside looking in. But as imperfect as it is, this is a truly unique and wonderful place to be in and we can’t imagine building Base10 anywhere else. If the Base10 Partners story means anything to the broader industry, it’s proof that the Silicon Valley dream is definitely alive and well.
But the ecosystem has changed a lot since we got here. Back in 2010, when I was an entrepreneur going down Sand Hill Road pitching VCs my startup, I was told there were about 20 firms that could realistically invest in my round. Being a VC in those days was fun. It was essentially an oligopoly, and you sat at your desk at one of those 20 firms, waiting for entrepreneurs to come to you with the next billion-dollar startup. We actually ran the numbers and, back in the day, if you were an investor and wanted to see the “entire market,” there were about eight deals each day to consider.
Things are different now. As investors today, we’re competing with nearly 1,110 firms for the honor of being the lead investor in an early stage round, and instead of 8 deals per day, you have 111 to evaluate. So there’s two conclusions we can draw from the way venture works today: first, I picked the wrong time to stop being an entrepreneur and start investing as a VC. Second, to be successful in venture with the way things are now, differentiation and focus are the only things that will set you apart.
Despite things being busier and more competitive than years past, I am more excited than ever about Base10 Partners because we’ve spent the last three and a half years on differentiation and focus, fully embracing who we are and honing in on why we do what we do. We’re doing things a lot differently than most and, importantly, we’re putting our money where our mouth is. We believe that a world, empowered by technology, in which the 99% have as many opportunities as the 1% to build things that benefit us collectively, is a better world for all of us, and one worth working towards.
BluePeak Private Capital Announces Its Second Investment in ieng
BluePeak Private Capital Founder and Managing Director, Walid Cherif
BluePeak Private Capital, an alternative asset management firm with a strong focus on impact in Africa today announced its investment in ieng. A pan-African provider of engineering and construction, operations and maintenance. And hybrid power solutions to Africa’s burgeoning telecom sector.
The $20 million growth capital supports ieng’s geographic expansion plan across the continent. Enabling the company to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions to a broader range of clients and industries. Solidifying its position as a leading provider of end-to-end infrastructure services and cutting-edge solutions. In addition, the investment advances ieng’s strategy to meet growing consumer demand for telecom infrastructure services, boosting connectivity for last-mile access and deepening the firms’ footprint by providing catalytic capital for new contracts with blue-chip clients.
Rami Matar, Partner at BluePeak Private Capital, commented: “Through reliable services and a strong track record, ieng has managed to position itself as a preeminent service provider to blue-chip telecom clients in Africa. Competing head-to-head with global service providers. We are excited to support ieng and fund its growth plans as development in telecommunications narrows the gap in Africa’s digital divide and is a critical enabler of economic development, productivity, and inclusive growth.”
Rami Shibley, Founder, and CEO of ieng said: “We are excited to start this long-term partnership with BluePeak t support ieng’s continuous growth and development. The investment provides critical capital, enabling ieng to meet the increasing demand for reliable telecom services, improved connectivity, and more efficient power solutions”.
Established in 2007 in Ghana, ieng gradually expanded its operations and is today a prominent service provider to
blue-chip tower companies and mobile network operators across Africa. Over the years, the company has developed
an extensive track record and currently maintains a portfolio of more than 23,000 towers on behalf of clients in
growing economies across the continent including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, and beyond. Further, ieng has established an in-house hybrid power solution to reduce carbon emissions of
telecom towers through transformative means.
The telecommunications sector is poised for onward growth in Africa, on the back of:
(i) growing mobile penetration.
(ii) increasing number of internet users.
(iii) the rollout of 4G and 5G towers to improve and expand the quality of connectivity.
ieng is well-positioned to leverage its competitive geographic reach and long-term relationships with
clients to capitalize on the market opportunity and further scale its operations.
The investment is aligned with the Fund’s impact agenda and will support ieng in strengthening mobile and internet connectivity and promoting evolutionary hybrid power solutions. BluePeak’s $20 million investment promotes UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 Good Health and Well-being. Goal 5 Gender Equality, Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Goal 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure.