Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurship, with a funding gap of $42 billion. In 2019, female-led startups received 2.8% of VC funding and 2.3% the following year. These worrying numbers might lead to finger-pointing and never-ending conversations. Still, our global focus should be on getting the work done, eliminating unconscious biases to balance the diversity gap and increasing VC Funding for female-led startups. 

As the continent’s ecosystem expands and deepens its ties with technology, there’s an increasing number of angel investors and venture capitalists approaching high-impact African founders of any gender who are building exciting products and services. But two years before the sudden outpouring of VC funds into Africa, Oui Capital supported early-stage entrepreneurs.

Source: Oui Capital

Oui Capital’s vision for African startups

Olu Oyinsan, former head of investments for Ingressive Capital, left his role in late 2018 to set up Oui Capital. Oui Capital is on a mission to provide early-stage capital and mentorship to startups on the African continent. Their first fund closed $4.7m in December 2019, led by some influential limited partners, including Foundry Group’s founders- Seth Levine and Brad Feld, Gbenga Oyebode’s TVCP, and several executives from some of Africa’s most prominent commercial banks. 

The fund has now grown to a portfolio of 14 companies across five African countries: Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Oui Capital’s most notable seed-stage investment was in TeamApt. This Nigerian fintech company just closed their Series B led by Novastar Ventures, FMO Global ventures and CDC.

But beyond funding early-stage African startups and setting them up for local and global success. In a tweet by Olu in March, he revealed that 66% of Oui Capital’s 2020 investments went into female-led tech companies and 100% into teams with at least one female co-founder. 

And Oui Capital isn’t only interested in doling our capital or managing external investors; the fund also takes mentoring and connecting their founders to the right network very seriously. It isn’t enough to just pour money into a startup – especially one that is run by an underrepresented founder – VCs must go over and beyond to support their founders from ideation to execution. 

Some of the women founders backed by Oui Capital include:

Tebogo Mokwena (CTO and co-founder of Akiba Digital):

Akiba is on a mission to understand the financial behaviour of an African consumer better than anyone to unlock financial access for any African. Akiba Digital recently closed over $1.1 in pre-seed funding led by EXPERT DOJO and Oui Capital.

Before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey with Akiba, Tebogo was a software engineer at Allan Gray and a digital consultant at McKinsey & Company.

While consulting at McKinsey, Tebogo led cross-functional technical teams to build digital banks from the ground up in South East Asia and Africa. During her time at Allan Gray, she noticed how Retail Investment products could only be accessed by the top 10% of the population, leaving those at the bottom of the pyramid in the dark of such fantastic financial products. Her experiences at Allan Gray and McKinsey & Company inspired Mokwena to build a business that could enable South Africans to better access financial products and services.

Radhika Bhachu (Co-founder & CEO of Ndovu):

Ndovu is building a simplified investment solution for Africans to even the playing field because everyone deserves to succeed. They provide retail investors with digital advice and access to global & local markets through a Robo-Advisor. In addition, Ndovu’s female-led team is passionate about promoting responsible investing through financial education and the provision of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that create long-term wealth.

Radhika has 10+ years of experience advising global top 500 companies. She has worked at London-based companies Deloitte and BlackRock, advising investors on putting their savings to work. In 2020, she returned to Kenya to explore how she could put her savings to work in her home country and soon discovered that there is currently $85bn sitting idly inside a collective of African bank accounts. Due to the high inflation rates in Africa, that money is losing value each day, which presents a sizable problem for the continent. 

Upon interacting with several people back home and doing some research, Radhika discovered that many Kenyans didn’t have access to the tools and resources they needed to create and grow their wealth. So, recognising the opportunity to build a personalised, cost-efficient investment solution, she partnered with Kenyan investment experts to make investing more accessible and people-friendly.

Arlene Jebet (CMO & Co-founder of Twende Mobility)

Twende’s mission is to democratise the movement of people and goods in Africa to reduce costs. It creates a network that connects consumers to operators, making it easier to manage travel and logistics needs in a unified, transparent and cost-effective way. Coming off the back of a peer to peer rideshare service, Twende is building a software product that allows mobility and logistics service providers to digitise their day to day operations from bookings management, tracking, dispatch, payments, communications, and much more. Thus, it enables existing businesses to drive efficiency, scale their operations, and deliver safe, convenient, affordable transportation experiences to consumers.

Twende is currently onboarding logistics service providers, businesses and individuals onto their platform. In addition, they recently closed over $150k in pre-seed funding to digitise and expand their geographical footprint to the broader East Africa region.

Arlene previously served as communications lead at Kass Media and digital marketing manager at AlanDick Company. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Media from Moi University. As a journalist, she has mastered the art of listening to people, understanding their needs and offering solutions first-hand. This skill aligns perfectly with her primary role at Twende: seeking out customers to understand their pain points and communicating those needs with our engineering team to produce a meaningful solution. It is a multi-faceted mandate that enables her to market the product effectively, offer outstanding customer service and maintain long-lasting relationships with customers. 

Like Oui Capital, more venture capitalists must realise that the success of a startup has little to do with gender but more to do with having a great team, driving a transparent company and product vision, and building with passion and ambition.

Zuri is improving access to healthcare in Africa with technology

Koromone Koroye | Author

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