African Founders as Investors: A List of Those Transitioning to VC

Cape Town Innovation Hub. Credits: Uvu Africa

Just days before the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020, Nigerian fintech startup Carbon announced the rollout of a $100,000 pan-African fund for startups. According to the company, the Carbon Disrupt Fund was established to address the lack of funding and support hindering budding tech entrepreneurs on the continent. It aimed to invest up to $10,000 per startup in exchange for a 5% equity stake. Founded by entrepreneurs Ngozi Dozie and Chijioke Dozie of fintech startup Carbon, the initiative was expected to ignite collaboration and drive further investment, fostering growth across the ecosystem.

However, Carbon was not the pioneer in this regard. A significant number of other African tech entrepreneurs have embarked on similar paths. Below, we endeavor to compile a nearly comprehensive list of them.

Name of FounderCountryFormer/Present StartupName of VC FundYear VC Fund was FoundedPortfolio of VC Fund
Ngozi Dozie; Chijioke DozieNigeriaCarbonCarbon Disrupt Fund2020Afropolitan
Jason NjokuNigeriaIroko (Investzilla);
Iyinoluwa AboyejiNigeriaFlutterwaveFuture Africa Fund (Future Africa Collective)2019Bamboo; Chaka; Afriex; Afripolitan; Big Cabal Media; Ndovu; Alvin; Kwara; Eden Life; Edves; Pngme; Akiba Digital; Smile Identity; MarketForce; MDaaS Global; PayHippo; Nexford University; Bongalow; Lami Technologies; Stitch API; TopUp Mama; Norebase
Bosun TijaniNigeriaCcHubGrowth Capital Fund (CcHub Syndicate)2017E-tailers, DrugStoc, Edves.
Sim ShagayaNigeriaKonga/uLessonThe Honey Badger Fund2023
Aisha PandorSouth AfricaSweepSouthE4E Africa2020Enlabeler
Philani SangweniSouth AfricaAKRO AccelerateE4E Africa2020Enlabeler
Odunayo EweniyiNigeriaPiggyVestFirstCheck Africa2021Cleva Banking; Wasoko; TopUp Mama
Yemi KeriNigeriaHeckerbella LimitedRising Tide Africa2016Aruwa Capital; Oze
Mohamed OkashaEgyptFawryDisrupTech; MNT-Halan
Ahmed BarakatEgyptSotech TechnologiesInnlife Investment2020Sigma Fit; 
Kola AinaNigeriaVentures PlatformEdu Platforms 2016Reliance HMO; Flutterwave; Mono; MDaaS; ThankUCash; Trove; Lemonade Finance; Payday; PayHippo; MoneyHash; Bridgecard; TopUpMama; Norebase
Sangu DelleGhanaCarePoint (formerly Africa Health Holdings)Golden Palm Investments2006Flutterwave; Mono; Chaka; Autochek; Sokowatch; Tizeti; Wowzi; Appetito; Autochek; ILLA Logistics; Sendbox; Mono; Chaka; Jetstream Logistics; 
Darshan ChandariaKenyaDarshan IndustriesChandaria Capital2017Ilara Health; Carry1st; Kobo360
Ziad MokhtarEgypteSpace; olivAlgebra Ventures2015Dsquares; GoodsMart; Elmenus; Eventtus; La Reina;Community; Halan; Trella; Brimore; Orcas; Yodawy; Mozare3; Sakneen; Sylndr
Bunmi AkinyemijuNigeriaVenture Gardens GroupGreenHouse Capital2014CredPal; Helium Health; Lipa Later; Busha; Yellow Card; MarketForce; BFREE; PopotePay
Pauline KoelblRwandaAfriProspectShEquity2020WidEnergy
Vinny LinghamSouth AfricaCivic Technologies; Rumi.AiNewtown Partners2014Lori Systems; Field Intellgience; SweepSouth; Wala; OVEX; MDaaS Global; Redbird
Llew ClaasenSouth AfricaIncubetaNewtown Partners2014Lori Systems; Field Intellgience; SweepSouth; Wala; OVEX; MDaaS Global; Redbird
Kenza Lahlou MoroccoStartupYourLifeOutlierz Ventures2018Sokowatch; MaxAB; Asoko Insigh; Freterium.
Shehab MarzbanEgyptDfinCamel Ventures; EFG-EV FintechNowPay; Raseedi; XPay; KlickIt; KIWE; Fatura; Mozare3; zVendo; Dayra
Yele BademosiNigeriaBundle; NestcoinMicrotraction2017Sendbox; NowPay; 54gene; Cowryrise;; ThankUCash; Accounteer; Riby; Stack Dx; Orda; Lemonade Finance; Payday; Chaka; Norebase
Richard Dewing South AfricaDewing Holdings (Pty) Ltd; DataFox; ECi SolutionsKnife Capital2010DataProphet; Snapplify; PharmaScout; Wamly; VoxCroft Analytics; Stone Three; Kandua
Michael JordaanSouth AfricaBank ZeroMontegray Capital2014VALR; FlexClub
Habib KaraouliTunisiaBanque d’Affaires de Tunisie; CAP Bank Capsa Capital Partners2012Enova Robotitcs;  Intigo
Dalia IbrahimEgyptNahdet Misr Digital SolutionsEdVentures2017OTO Courses; EYouth; Career180; Colnn; OBM Education, Super Fny, and Crafty Workshop; Career 180
Reuel KhozaSouth AfricaNedbankLionPride Agility Fund2017BusyMed
Jason GoldbergSouth AfricaNXT-9; 10X EntrepreneurEdge Growth; Vumela Fund2007Syafunda
Justin StanfordSouth AfricaESET Southern Africa4Di Capital2009CompariSure; Zoona; Aerobotics; InvestSure; Bfree; LifeQ South Africa
Anton van VlaanderenSouth AfricaMeaka Group International4Di Capital2009CompariSure; Zoona; Aerobotics; InvestSure; Bfree; LifeQ South Africa
Erik van VlaanderenSouth AfricaMeaka Group International4Di Capital2009CompariSure; Zoona; Aerobotics; InvestSure; Bfree; LifeQ South Africa
Polo Mohau LetekaSouth AfricaIM In Seed Fund and AcceleratorIDF Capital2008Zulzi; Kandua; MortgageMarket
Nichole YembraNigeriaGreenHouse Lab; Agni FitnessChrysalis Capital2019Helium Health; Bankly
Ola BrownNigeriaFlying Doctors, NigeriaHealthCap Africa2011Kukua
Kareem ElsirafyEgyptUnite USModus Capital2015Pravica
Anton NewburySouth AfricaDNIEnso Equity2019Ingress Healthcare
Idris Ayodeji BelloNigeriaAfyaZima Africa LtdLoftyInc Capital Management2018YouVerify; Wowzi; Moove; Mono; Chefaa; Flutterwave;; PAPS; Orda; Wowzi; Flex Finance;; ILLA Logistics; Payday; Ejara; Odiggo; CashBackApp; Akiba Digital; SHYFT Power Solutions
Chris MuscarellaNigeriaKitchensurfing; Field CompanyTimon Capital 2018Sokowatch; Omnibiz; Decagon
Achim KlennertSouth AfricaCompass Insurance Company Lireas Holdings (Pty) Ltd2006Pineapple; Lumkani; InvestSure; Pineapple Insurance
Nick AllenSouth AfricaFormfoodsSavant Venture Fund2015SmartBlade; Jonga Systems
Jim OviaNigeriaZenith BankQauntum Capital Partners2010TeamApt
Tijan WattSenegalOasis International SAWuri Ventures2020WhereIsMyTransport; Norebase
Madji SockSenegalDalbergHaskè Ventures2022Kwely; ProXalys
Birame SockSenegalKwelyHaskè Ventures2022Kwely; ProXalys
Olumide SoyomboNigeriaBluechip Technologies LtdVoltron Capital2021Etap Insurance; Bfree; Alvin; Payourse; Payday; Bridgecard; Norebase
Rafeh SalehEgyptConsulting PadCubit Ventures2021Rology; ILLA Logistics
Ameer SherifEgyptBasharSoftKhwarizmi Ventures2018Pylon; Khazna; Bosta;; Fatura
Tarek Roushdy EgyptSeaharvest Oil & Gas ServicesUI Investments2021Otida; Welnes; 3attar; beXel
Adegoke Olubusi NigeriaHelium HealthMagic Fund2018Klump; Float Fintech; Bypa-ss; Vendease; Payday; Bongalow
Karim BesharaEgyptOrascom Telecom, Media & Technology; LINKdotNETA152014OneOrder; Sympl; Laverie; Paymob; Esaal Healthtech
Hema VallabhSouth AfricaWomHubFive35 Ventures2020Zindi; Shuttlers
Olu OyinsanNigeriaDoorby.comOui Capital2018Duplo; Ndovu; Herconomy;MVX Freight; Akiba Digital; TeamApt
Zachariah GeorgeSouth AfricaStartupbootcampLaunch Africa Ventures2021Amitruck; Orcas; Kwara; Gozem; Mobiz; Shuttlers; Semicolon; RxAll; Africa; Bypa-ss; Edves; Yobante Express; Kashat; Omnibiz; Chekkit Technologies; MVX Freight; Julaya; Strove; MarketForce; Kune; BFREE; Kidato; Pricepally; Zuri Health
Gbite Oduneye NigeriaMERIFX ( VC2021AltSchool; Treepz; Kuda Bank
Mezuo NwuneliNigeriaAACE FoodsSahel Capital2013TradeDepot
Ike EzeNigeriaCentrro Inc.; GPlay Inc.; QSpace, Inc; Beta Ventures2017Edves; Smile Identity; BFREE
Kenneth LegesiUgandaXenteOrtus Africa Capital2019Ridelink
Michael FichardtSouth AfricaMorpheeoOneBio Seed Investment Fund2017LifeQ South Africa

Download a copy of the list here

Exploring the Factors Behind the Increase in Founder-to-Investors Transition in Africa

During the interval from 2010–2019, there was a notable surge in the number of African founders transitioning into investors, reflecting a maturing entrepreneurial landscape across the continent. This transition can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, as the startup ecosystem in Africa began to gain traction, successful founders sought to leverage their experience and capital to support emerging entrepreneurs. Secondly, increased access to global networks and funding opportunities encouraged founders to diversify their roles and position themselves early enough for the opportunities that abound in the ecosystem. Additionally, the period also saw a rise in successful startups and noteworthy exits, equipping founders with the financial resources and confidence needed to venture into investment. This not only promised attractive financial returns but also offered a chance to make a substantial societal contribution.

Nigerian, South African and Egyptian Founders are More Likely to Turn Investors

The comparative rate of founders transitioning into investors across various African countries highlights subtle trends within the continent’s entrepreneurial ecosystems. Nigeria emerges as a frontrunner with 36% of founders embracing the role of investors, reflecting its vibrant startup scene and robust investment opportunities. South Africa closely follows at 32%, underscoring its position as a regional hub for innovation and venture capital. Egypt’s rate of 18% signifies a growing interest in investment activities, propelled by government support and a growing tech sector. However, the lower rates observed in countries like Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Morocco, Tunisia, and Uganda at 6% or below suggest varying degrees of development in their startup ecosystems, potentially hindered by factors such as limited access to funding, regulatory challenges, or emerging entrepreneurial traditions. Despite variations, the collective rise of founders transitioning into investors across Africa signals a promising evolution towards a more inclusive and dynamic investment landscape, ripe with opportunities for economic growth and innovation.

Male Dominance in Founder-to-Investor Transition

Data suggests a notable disparity in the transition of African founders to investors, with a significantly higher proportion of males engaging in investment ventures compared to their female counterparts. Among the founders who transitioned into investors, a substantial 80% were male, while only 20% were female. This discrepancy underscores broader gender imbalances within the entrepreneurial and investment landscapes across Africa. Various factors may contribute to this trend, including unequal access to resources, networks, and opportunities for female entrepreneurs, as well as cultural and societal barriers that may hinder their participation in investment activities. Addressing these disparities is crucial for fostering a more inclusive and equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, where both male and female founders have equal opportunities to thrive as investors and contribute to economic growth and innovation.

The Common Characteristics of an African Entrepreneur Investor

African founder-turned investors are known for their long-term commitment to their investment firms. Unlike the more transient founder culture seen in other regions, African tech entrepreneurs tend to stay with their ventures for the long haul. This steadfast approach is evident with the majority of founders who rarely exit their investment firms once they embark on their investment journey. There are, however, exceptions to this trend. A select few manage to run their startups while simultaneously handling the responsibilities of their investment firms, showcasing a remarkable ability to juggle dual roles effectively.

It is also observed that most investment firms led by African founders operate on a part-time basis. This could be attributed to various factors, including the need for diversified income streams or the lack of sufficient capital to warrant full-time dedication. While this might raise questions about the intensity of their commitment, it also reflects the pragmatic approach of African founders who must navigate the unique challenges of the continent’s investment landscape.

The increasing number of entrepreneur investors is indeed commendable and signifies a maturing ecosystem. However, it’s important to acknowledge that only a handful of these founders possess substantial entrepreneurial experience prior to their investment endeavors. This gap in experience doesn’t necessarily diminish their potential to contribute to the ecosystem, but it does highlight the need for a supportive environment that fosters learning and growth for both seasoned and emerging entrepreneur investors.

African Founders Investors African Founders Investors