Village Capital, a US-based venture capital firm that finds, trains, and invests in early-stage ventures, has announced a plan to accelerate the flow of capital into early-stage companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The organization, which seeks to solve major global problems in agriculture, education, energy, financial inclusion, and health, has selected leaders of 15 incubators, accelerators and seed funds to participate in its VilCap Communities Africa initiative.
The project is an innovative programme led by Village Capital that seeks to accelerate the flow of capital to early-stage companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 2009, Village Capital, which is headquartered in Washington DC, has supported more than 1,000 entrepreneurs in 50 cities and 30 countries, and partnered with affiliated investment funds, including VilCap Investments, that have invested seed capital in more than 90 program graduates.
Village Capital’s programme is supported by the Impact Programme which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The Impact Programme was launched in December 2012 and seeks to support impact investments into businesses reaching the underserved as consumers, suppliers, distributors or employees, in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile states, and innovative business models.
The 15 finalists will take part in forums this fall led by Village Capital in Lagos and Nairobi, capped off by a major convening in Cape Town in November, where they will learn and share the latest best practices, including Village Capital’s proprietary curriculum and peer-selected investment process.
Village Capital has run more than 50 investment-readiness programmes across the globe, including eight in sub-Saharan Africa that have directly supported more than 80 entrepreneurs and facilitated 16 seed-stage investments. VilCap Communities Africa will build on this experience to equip entrepreneur ecosystem leaders with the tools, resources and connections they need to catalyze impact investment.
“Passion and vision are important, but entrepreneurs also need to have a plan to deploy capital efficiently to generate a return on investment,” said Allie Burns, Managing Director at Village Capital.
“At Village Capital we specialize in helping entrepreneurs think like investors, and we’re excited to share what we’ve learned over the past eight years with this elite group of leaders in Africa,” she added.
“The number of incubators and accelerators in Africa has grown exponentially, but the number of successful startups on the continent has not grown at the same rate,” explained Rachel Crawford, Innovation Manager for Emerging Markets at Village Capital.
“It’s still hard to raise capital and scale a business in too many parts of the continent, and we know that entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders are the key to bridging that gap,” she continued.
The 15 finalists were chosen from more than 200 incubators, accelerators and funds that applied. They operate in 20 African countries, including Ethiopia, Benin, Tanzania, Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire.
The group also brings together organizations from more mature ecosystems such as Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and some from very nascent ecosystems such as Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.