Social Value Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Venture Capital Firms in Driving Sustainable Value

The concept of social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa has gained significant traction as the region seeks sustainable development. This article explores the importance of social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa and examines the role of venture capital firms in Sub-Sharan Africa in driving it. With their unique position as catalysts for innovation and growth, VC firms can play a pivotal role in delivering sustainable social impact and driving positive change throughout the region.

Social Value Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa

What Is Social Value

Social value refers to the positive impact generated by an organization or initiative on society and communities. It goes beyond financial profits and focuses on creating tangible benefits for individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Social value encompasses various dimensions, including but not limited to social equity, environmental sustainability, community development, human rights, and ethical practices.

In 2023, social value is becoming increasingly important for several reasons. First, there is a growing recognition that businesses have a responsibility to contribute positively to the societies in which they operate. Stakeholders, including consumers, employees, investors, and governments, are demanding greater accountability and transparency regarding the social impact of businesses today. This shift in expectations is driving the need for businesses to prioritise social value creation as a core aspect of their operations.

Second, the current global challenges, such as climate change, social inequality, and the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the interconnectedness of social, environmental, and economic issues. These challenges have underscored the urgency of addressing societal issues and have amplified the importance of social value creation. Companies are realising that their long-term success is closely linked to the well-being and resilience of the communities they serve. By actively contributing to social value, organisations can enhance their reputation, build customer loyalty, attract and retain talent, mitigate risks, and foster long-term sustainability.

Moreover, stakeholders are increasingly considering social impact as a key criterion for decision-making. Consumers are favoring socially responsible and sustainable products and services, and investors are incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their investment strategies. Governments are also implementing policies and regulations that incentivise businesses to prioritise social value creation. Organizations that can demonstrate their commitment to social value are more likely to thrive in this evolving landscape and gain a competitive edge.

Social Value International, a Governing Body of Social Value summarises the principles of Soccial Value in the following manner:

Social value investment and impact investment are two related but distinct approaches to investing with a focus on creating positive societal change. Social value investment primarily emphasizes generating social value and addressing specific social or environmental challenges, while impact investment takes a broader perspective by considering both social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. While social value investment may target specific social issues, impact investment looks at the overall impact of an investment across multiple dimensions. These approaches complement each other as social value investment provides a targeted and deep focus on specific social challenges, while impact investment incorporates a broader perspective and encourages a holistic approach to creating positive change in society and the environment. Together, they contribute to a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to investing for social impact.

Understanding the Significance of Social Value Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa faces numerous social, economic, and environmental challenges that hinder progress and well-being. Poverty, inequality, limited access to quality healthcare and education, environmental degradation, and unemployment are just a few pressing issues. Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that considers the social impact of businesses and their ability to generate value beyond financial returns.

The focus on social value is particularly crucial in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the unique challenges and opportunities the region faces. According to Earnest and Young, the fact that nearly half of global impact investment capital goes to Africa in 2023 highlights the growing recognition of Africa’s potential for positive social impact and sustainable development.

Sub-Saharan Africa grapples with a range of pressing social and environmental issues, including poverty, inequality, limited access to healthcare and education, climate change, and inadequate infrastructure. By prioritising social value, organisations operating in the region can contribute to addressing these challenges and improving the well-being of communities.

Moreover, the continent presents significant opportunities for innovative and scalable solutions that can drive social value creation. Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation, a burgeoning middle class, and a youthful population that demands access to better services and opportunities. By focusing on social value, businesses can tap into these opportunities, catalyse inclusive growth, create employment, empower local communities, and foster sustainable development.

Furthermore, the attention on social value in Sub-Saharan Africa aligns with the region’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). sustainable development goals 300x300 1 Social Value Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Venture Capital Firms in Driving Sustainable ValueThe SDGs provide a comprehensive framework for addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. By aligning their strategies with the SDGs, organisations can contribute to achieving these ambitious targets, promoting social inclusion, gender equality, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity in the region.

The Role of Venture Capital Firms in Social Value Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa

Venture capital firms have a unique opportunity to contribute to social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. They can actively support and invest in businesses that address critical social and environmental challenges while demonstrating commercial viability. The role of VC firms in delivering social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa can be summarised in the following aspects:

a) Financing and Scaling Socially Impactful Ventures: VC firms provide crucial funding and expertise to early-stage ventures that aim to create social value. By investing in businesses that tackle poverty, access to essential services, renewable energy, education, healthcare, and sustainable agriculture, VC firms can amplify the impact of these ventures and help them scale their operations to address the region’s pressing social challenges.

b) Catalysing Innovation and Disruption: VC firms foster innovation by supporting entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas and disruptive technologies. Through their financial support, mentorship, and access to networks, VC firms enable entrepreneurs to develop and implement innovative solutions to social challenges. These innovations can transform industries, create new markets, and address systemic issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.

c) Building Ecosystems for Social Value Investment: VC firms contribute to the development of robust entrepreneurial ecosystems by providing more than just financial capital. They offer strategic guidance, mentorship, and industry connections that help startups navigate challenges, refine their business models, and access new markets. By nurturing the ecosystem, VC firms help create an environment conducive to social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

d) Impact Measurement and Reporting: VC’s can play a very important role in promoting accountability and transparency through impact measurement and reporting practices. By establishing clear metrics and evaluation frameworks, VC firms can assess and communicate the social value generated by their portfolio companies. This not only facilitates decision-making but also attracts socially conscious investors and partners to contribute to the region’s social and economic development.

As VC’s continue to shape the future of Sub-Saharan Africa, their commitment to social value investment can lead to transformative social change, inclusive economic growth, and environmental sustainability in the region.

To enhance social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, collaboration among VC firms, entrepreneurs, investors, governments, and local communities is essential. By working together, stakeholders can leverage resources, knowledge, and networks to identify and support ventures that generate significant social impact. This collaboration can also facilitate knowledge sharing, learning, and the replication of successful models across different countries and sectors.

Furthermore, it is crucial for Venture Capital firms to consider the unique context of Sub-Saharan Africa when implementing social value investment strategies. The region’s diverse cultural, social, and economic landscapes demand tailored approaches to address specific challenges effectively. VC’s should engage with local communities, understand their needs, and adapt their investment strategies accordingly. This ensures that social value investment initiatives are culturally sensitive, contextually relevant, and create sustainable change.

Access to capital remains a critical factor in driving social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. VC firms should actively seek partnerships with development finance institutions, impact investors, and philanthropic bodies to expand the pool of available funds. By collaborating with these stakeholders, VC firms can secure the necessary financial resources to support impactful ventures and scale their social value creation efforts across the region.

Additionally, VC’s should prioritise impact measurement and reporting to assess the effectiveness of their social value investments. Developing robust measurement frameworks that capture both qualitative and quantitative indicators of social impact is crucial. VC firms can collaborate with industry experts, impact assessment firms, and academia to refine impact measurement methodologies specific to the Sub-Saharan African context. Transparent reporting of social outcomes not only demonstrates accountability but also attracts additional investments and fosters trust among stakeholders.

Why Measurement of Social Value Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa is so Important?

Social value measurement plays a crucial role in assessing and quantifying the impact of organisations’ efforts to create social value. It is of utmost importance due to several key reasons.

First and foremost, social value measurement enables businesses to understand and evaluate the effectiveness of their social initiatives. By quantifying and qualifying the outcomes of their activities, organisations can gain insights into what works and what needs improvement. This data-driven approach helps inform decision-making, allocate resources more efficiently, and optimise strategies to maximise social impact.

Secondly, social value measurement enhances accountability and transparency. Stakeholders, including investors, consumers, employees, and communities, increasingly expect organisations to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility. By measuring social value, organisations can provide evidence of their impact, build trust, and establish a reputation for responsible business practices. This transparency fosters stronger relationships with stakeholders and attracts continued support.

Furthermore, social value measurement promotes learning and knowledge sharing. By capturing and analysing data on social impact, organisations can identify best practices, lessons learned, and areas for innovation. Sharing these insights with other organisations, policymakers, and the broader community facilitates collaboration and collective efforts toward addressing societal challenges more effectively.

Importantly, social value measurement helps organisations align their efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or other relevant frameworks. By mapping their activities and impact against specific SDGs, organisations can contribute to global agendas for sustainable development. This alignment not only enhances credibility but also helps prioritise initiatives that have the greatest potential for positive change.

What We Look for in Social Value Related Investments Opportunities?

As an impact venture capital firm, Caban Investments focuses on specific criteria when considering investments in social value ventures. We are driven by a mission to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. Our investment decisions are guided by a commitment to supporting ventures that align with our impact objectives and have the potential to make a significant difference in society.

First and foremost, we look for businesses with a clear and compelling social mission. We look for entrepreneurs and management teams who are deeply passionate about addressing pressing social or environmental challenges. The business we invest in should demonstrate a genuine commitment to creating positive change and possess a deep understanding of the problem they aim to solve. Alignment between the venture’s mission and our impact objectives is a crucial factor in our investment process.

Scalability and market potential are also key considerations. We look for businesses that have the potential to achieve substantial scale and impact. By evaluating the market dynamics, competitive landscape, and growth potential of the venture, we can assess its ability to reach a large audience and generate significant social value. Scalability is vital in order to maximise the impact of the venture and attract follow-on investments that can further fuel its growth and expansion.

Financial sustainability is another critical aspect we evaluate when investing in social value ventures. Caban believes that financial viability is essential for long-term impact. We assess the business model, revenue generation potential, and market demand for its product or service. A sustainable business model ensures that the venture can continue to create social value while also achieving financial stability and growth.

Furthermore, we place great emphasis on the capabilities and expertise of the founding team. We look for teams with a strong entrepreneurial mindset, industry knowledge, and a track record of executing successful ventures. We recognise the importance of a capable and visionary team in driving the growth and impact of a social value venture. As an impact-focused VC firm, we provide strategic guidance and mentorship to support the team’s development and maximise the social impact potential.

Lastly, we look for measurable social impact. We prioritise businesses that have a clear theory of change and a robust framework for measuring and reporting their impact. By investing in ventures that can effectively demonstrate their social value creation, we can provide transparency to our stakeholders and track the progress of the ventures’ impact over time.

We are clear today that social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa holds immense potential for driving sustainable development and addressing pressing social challenges. Venture capital firms play a vital role in this process by financing and supporting socially impactful ventures, catalysing innovation, building ecosystems, and promoting impact measurement and reporting. By prioritising collaboration, context sensitivity, and access to capital, VC firms can maximise their contributions to social value investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, creating a brighter and more inclusive future for the region and its people.

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Matthew Musgrove

Matthew Musgrove

Matthew is an entrepreneur and business Advisor with a passion for change management and social empowerment. With a background in business accounting and advisory, as well clinical research project management, he strives to find strategic and sustainable solutions to business problems.



Mark Van Hoff comes from background of technical & production planning, budgeting & scheduling of major live events. As the first production co-ordinator at M-NET for Outside Broadcasts, Mark has managed major local and international productions including Miss South Africa, Miss World, multiple music events and major sports events, including the PnP Cycling Tour.​Mark co-founded Van-Man Productions in 1994, Page to Picture in 2000 and Move Media Networks in 2007. All three companies have achieved domestic success and have been well-regarded in the South African production industry.



Oluwaseun Adewuyi who is the Group Chief Finance Officer (CFO) at Caban, is a Certified Chartered Accountant, with Fellowship status at both the ACCA as well as the Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a UK Based industry body with a specific focus on the management of charities, not-for-profit organisations and NGOs.. Oluwaseun comes with strong business acumen and 20+ years of progressive experience in finance and operations management within well-reputed and high growth organisations Including Next Plc and Royal Mail. He has been heavily involved in impact investment across Sub-Saharan Africa and has been instrumental in the creation of a series of community schools in West Africa. Throughout his career, he oversaw a broad range of operations, including Business Strategy and Business Reorganisation, summarising the organisation’s financial status, and coordinating the preparation of tactical plans, financial forecasts, and budgets. Adept at developing and implementing effective internal control framework to maintain sound financial accountability.

tim scholtz


Tim Scholtz, who's is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Caban Investments, is experienced in implementing corporate governance guidelines, formulating risk management structures, process and cost optimization. Tim has a strong corporate background, having worked as COO at the South African Tourism board, was COO at the Nelson Mandela foundation and as a internal audit manager at Arthur Anderson earlier in his career.

Ben Botes


Ben Botes is Entrepreneur, VC, co-Founder, Author and Academic with a strong social conscience. Ben Involved with early stage and growth firms for the past 20 years and has been Co-founder of 9 separate businesses across Africa. Ben has directly and indirectly been involved in impact investment and the support of charities and non profits for the last 30 years. Ben is a regular speaker at the African Investment Conference in London and has been featured in Wall Street for Europe, The Guardian Small Business, BBC, the Mail and Guardian in the UK and BizCommunity, Channel 3 TV, Investors Weekly, The Cape Times, Radio 702 with John Robbie and Good Hope FM in South Africa

Dave Romero


Dave Romero is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur with a passion for making an impact. A qualified Professional Accountant, Dave has been a director in multiple financial institutions and was once the youngest Chairman on the JSE, in addition to being listed as one of Business Times’ Top 100 companies and the 40th fastest-growing company in South Africa. Dave is a core founder of the Caban Group, which aims to provide a comprehensive service offering to small businesses in return for equity. With a passion for nurturing entrepreneurs, Dave can often be found outside of the boardroom – offering advice, creating innovative funding solutions and building communities through sustainable practices.



Dr Ruben Richards is a truly inspirational South African leader. Through his peace-building seminars for criminal gangs, Dr Ruben has facilitated the longest ceasefire in the history of gang warfare on the Cape Flats. In addition to being Chairman & Founder of the non-profit Ruben Richards Foundation, Dr Ruben is an ordained cleric, company director, non-executive Chairman of Visual International Limited and was once the Deputy Director-General of the now-disbanded Scorpions.