Photo: Getty Images

Globally, women in tech make up about 28.8% of the tech workforce as of 2020. 

While this number is an increase from 25.9% in 2018 and 26.2% in 2019, reports still show it could take 12 years for women to have equal representation in tech. In Africa, it will take even longer than the estimated 12 years. 

Representation matters and like many other industries, the technology ecosystem is still struggling with gender diversity. Women in African tech businesses are underrepresented because the sector is predominantly male. 

With FirstCheck, Endeavor Nigeria MD, Eloho Omame and PiggyVest Co-founder/COO, Odunayo Eweniyi are creating a level playing field for women in tech.

How FirstCheck works

FirstCheck is a female-led, female-focused, angel fund and investor community to help women who have ideas for technology startups.

As the name suggests, the investor platform’s main objective is to give African women in tech their first check by investing up to $25,000 in each woman at the ideation stage and working to help her raise a significant pre-seed round within 12 months after being confirmed.

In Africa, when investors are approached by women entrepreneurs, there is an unconscious bias that they will not be as reliable an investment as their male counterparts. 

Female-led teams still find it difficult to raise funds and be taken seriously. This was the case of Damilola Olokesusi, CEO of Shuttlers whose story of gender bias in the workplace was during a board meeting she attended with her co-founders – an all-female team. A misogynistic statement made by a male attendee made it difficult for her and her team to be taken seriously throughout the meeting. Every woman who runs a business has her own story to tell.

In her launch announcement today, Omame said FirstCheck’s fundamental goal is to “create enablers and active pathways between Africa’s growing community of early-stage funders and female founders.” They plan to do this by being active connectors and collaborators to accelerate female-owned tech startups on the continent.

With a service catering to African women with scalable ideas, FirstCheck will be writing first checks for “audacious female founders” with bold ideas in their earliest stages.

“Our mission is to advance equity, capital and leadership for a generation of women in Africa through technology & entrepreneurship.”

FirstCheck is building infrastructure around women in technology, believing it will generate a solid return on investment. 

Investment procedures 

In exchange for modest equity, FirstCheck will invest in female founders aiming to validate their ideas and build viable products.

However, to answer the question of whether or not they are willing to invest in mixed-gender co-founding teams, FirstCheck will invest in those with at least one woman where it’s clear that “the woman is a true partner and decision-maker, with a significant, equitable split of the founder equity.” 

The investment startup will be working with a community of African women with ideas for technology startups, even those with vague ideas that could eventually become startups in the future. Businesses that are no longer in their ideation stage but already in their early stages of execution, pre-revenue especially, will be considered as well.

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