The current gender funding gap in Africa currently exists at $42 billion, and small steps are being taken to approach business with a gender lens. There are many opportunities to become gender smart, however in this article, we highlight 5 of the leading gender-lens funds on the continent, who are doing it with a difference.
Now more than ever is an exciting time for capital for startups in Africa, with over $400 million in January raised alone according to TechNext in 2022. However more inflow of capital available on the continent, doesn’t translate to the same access of opportunity for women, as Damilare Bamidele highlights in his article, with the assertion 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, revealing 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 and positioning nuance in the pipeline or a considered combination of these capabilities? The following list of funds and communities are responding to these questions with not just capital, but through their imbedded business models that empower female founders and their businesses to build gender gap confidence, and investors, to walk in high impact, high return confidence.
I’ve listed the five following funds that I believe are doing Gender-lens Investing (GLI) with a difference; recognising that with this type of investment, the approach may 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 to reflect the founders’ beliefs .
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.
Portfolio includes: Medsaf and Superfluid
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
Portfolio includes: Tushop and Zoie Health
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
Portfolio includes: Jetstream and Reelfruit
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.
Portfolio includes: OneHealth and Healthtracka
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? I’d love to hear from you. In February 2020, I 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!