White Paper: Driving Inclusive Venture Capital in Sub-Saharan Africa


Empowering Marginalised Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, venture capital has the potential to fuel economic growth, drive innovation, and empower entrepreneurs. However, the current state of venture capital in the region is often exclusive, with limited access and opportunities for marginalised groups. This white paper aims to address the challenges and barriers that hinder inclusive venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa and provide strategies to make it more accessible and equitable.

A. Background on the current state of venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed a growing interest in venture capital in recent years, with an increasing number of startups and entrepreneurs emerging across the region. However, access to capital remains a significant challenge for many entrepreneurs, particularly those from underserved communities, women, and other marginaliSed groups. The existing venture capital ecosystem often lacks diversity and fails to adequately support and invest in underrepresented founders and sectors.

B. Definition of inclusive venture capital and its significance

Inclusive venture capital refers to an approach that actively seeks to provide capital, mentorship, and support to a diverse range of entrepreneurs, including women, people of colour, individuals from rural areas, and those from low-income backgrounds. It recogniSes that diversity drives innovation and economic growth, and seeks to overcome barriers that limit access to capital for marginalised entrepreneurs. Inclusive venture capital aims to create an ecosystem where all entrepreneurs have equal opportunities to thrive, regardless of their background.

C. Purpose of the white paper

The purpose of this white paper is to analyse the challenges and barriers faced by entrepreneurs in accessing venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa and propose strategies to promote inclusivity within the ecosystem. By exploring the root causes of exclusion and presenting actionable recommendations, this white paper aims to guide stakeholders in making informed decisions to foster a more inclusive and thriving venture capital landscape in the regions.

Through a comprehensive examination of the current landscape, an exploration of successful case studies, and the identification of key recommendations, this white paper endeavours to provide a roadmap for stakeholders and corporate finance advisory services to embrace inclusivity in venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa. By doing so, we can unlock the full potential of the region’s entrepreneurial talent, spur economic growth, and contribute to sustainable development.

Inclusive venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa is a strategic imperative for unlocking the region’s untapped potential, as closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship alone could unlock an estimated $300 billion to $600 billion in global GDP growth, highlighting the need to embrace diversity and provide equitable access to drive sustainable and inclusive economic gains.


Despite the potential for venture capital to catalyze economic growth and foster innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are several challenges and barriers that hinder its inclusivity. Addressing these obstacles is crucial to creating a more equitable and accessible venture capital ecosystem in the region.

A. Lack of access to capital for marginalized entrepreneurs

  1. Limited awareness and understanding: Marginalized entrepreneurs often lack information about available funding sources and how to navigate the venture capital landscape. This knowledge gap prevents them from effectively accessing and leveraging capital for their ventures. For example, a study conducted by Village Capital and the World Bank found that only 4% of entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa were aware of venture capital as a funding option for their businesses1.
  2. Risk aversion and bias: Investors may exhibit risk aversion when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs from marginalized communities, leading to a lack of funding opportunities. Bias, conscious or unconscious, can also influence investment decisions, perpetuating exclusion and limiting access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Research by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) indicates that unconscious biases among investors often result in women entrepreneurs receiving less funding compared to their male counterparts2
  3. Collateral requirements and traditional lending practices: Many financial institutions and investors rely on collateral-based lending models that disadvantage entrepreneurs who lack substantial assets. This creates significant barriers for marginalized entrepreneurs who may have limited collateral to offer. A report by the African Development Bank Group highlighted that collateral requirements were a major challenge for entrepreneurs in accessing financing in Sub-Saharan Africa3.

Inclusive Venture Capital in Sub-Saharan Africa

B. Limited investment opportunities in certain sectors or regions

Concentration in high-growth sectors: Venture capital investments in Sub-Saharan Africa often gravitate towards sectors such as fintech and e-commerce, leaving out other industries with potential for growth and impact, including agriculture, healthcare, and renewable energy. This limited focus restricts the opportunities available to entrepreneurs in diverse sectors. A report by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) showed that 80% of impact investors in Sub-Saharan Africa focused on financial services and technology, leaving other sectors with less access to capital4.

Urban-centric investments: Investments are predominantly concentrated in urban areas, neglecting entrepreneurs and startups in rural and peri-urban regions. This geographic imbalance hampers inclusive economic development and exacerbates regional disparities. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), rural populations in Sub-Saharan Africa face challenges in accessing venture capital due to limited infrastructure, weaker market linkages, and a lack of investor presence5.

C. Gender and diversity gaps in venture capital funding

  1. Underrepresentation of women entrepreneurs: Women face significant challenges in accessing venture capital, including bias, limited networks, and gender stereotypes that perpetuate misconceptions about their entrepreneurial capabilities. This gender gap restricts the potential economic contributions of women-led ventures. A study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) found that only 16% of women-owned businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa receive the financing they need to grow6.
  2. Lack of diversity in investment teams: Homogeneity within investment teams can lead to unconscious biases, resulting in investment decisions that favor entrepreneurs who fit traditional stereotypes. Diverse perspectives within decision-making bodies are necessary to address these biases and promote inclusive funding. According to the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA), less than 10% of decision-makers in African private equity and venture capital firms are women7.

D. Regulatory and legal obstacles

  1. Complex and restrictive regulations: Cumbersome regulatory frameworks can impede venture capital investments, discouraging investors and entrepreneurs alike. Ambiguities, lengthy approval processes, and high compliance costs create barriers and limit the growth of the ecosystem. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked Sub-Saharan African countries among the most challenging regions in the world for starting and operating businesses, highlighting regulatory obstacles8.
  2. Lack of supportive policies: Governments often lack policies and incentives that specifically target inclusive venture capital. There is a need for tailored regulations and policies that facilitate investments in marginalized communities and underrepresented sectors, fostering a conducive environment for inclusive venture capital. For instance, Rwanda’s government implemented policies to support women entrepreneurs, leading to an increase in access to finance for women-led businesses9.

Addressing these challenges and barriers requires a multi-faceted approach involving collaboration between stakeholders, policy reforms, and a shift in mindset within the venture capital ecosystem. The subsequent sections of this white paper will explore strategies and recommendations to promote inclusive venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa, fostering an environment that empowers all entrepreneurs to thrive.

Bridging the gap in Inclusive Venture Capital in Sub-Saharan Africa


Several organizations and initiatives are leading the way in promoting inclusive venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme1 supports African entrepreneurs by providing training, mentorship, and seed capital, with a focus on empowering women and youth. The Harambeans Prosperity Fund2 invests in early-stage startups led by talented African entrepreneurs, emphasizing diversity and social impact. Another notable example is the Invest2Impact initiative3, which supports women-led businesses in East Africa through access to capital, business training, and mentorship.

These organizations demonstrate a commitment to inclusive venture capital by providing targeted support to marginalized entrepreneurs and prioritizing gender and diversity considerations in their investment strategies.


To overcome the challenges and barriers to inclusive venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is crucial to implement targeted strategies that address the specific needs of marginalized entrepreneurs. The following strategies provide a roadmap for promoting inclusivity within the venture capital ecosystem and unlocking the full potential of diverse talent in the region.

A. Improving access to capital for marginalized entrepreneurs

  1. Establishing inclusive funding mechanisms and platforms: Initiatives such as impact-focused venture capital funds, angel investor networks, and crowdfunding platforms can provide alternative funding sources for marginalized entrepreneurs. For example, the Harambeans Prosperity Fund in Nigeria focuses on early-stage investments in underrepresented founders and sectors1.
  2. Encouraging local and international investors to support diverse founders: Investors can actively seek out opportunities to invest in diverse entrepreneurs and promote inclusive investment practices. Organizations like Invest2Impact in East Africa work to connect women-led businesses with impact investors and provide them with the necessary support2.
  3. Creating mentorship and training programs for underrepresented entrepreneurs: Mentorship programs, business incubators, and accelerators can provide guidance, networks, and skills development for marginalized entrepreneurs. The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme in Africa offers mentorship, training, and funding to empower entrepreneurs from all backgrounds3.
  4. Organizations such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme1 have been at the forefront of providing support to marginalized entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through their program, they offer training, mentorship, and seed capital to African entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on empowering women and youth.
  5. Additionally, Caban Investment2, an impactful organization in South Africa, has been working diligently to address the funding gap for marginalized entrepreneurs by providing access to venture capital funding. Their efforts in identifying and supporting promising businesses led by marginalized individuals contribute to creating a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem.

B. Expanding investment opportunities in underserved sectors and regions

  1. Identifying and supporting emerging industries with high growth potential: Investors and ecosystem stakeholders can proactively identify and invest in sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, renewable energy, and education that have the potential for impact and economic growth. The Acumen Fund’s investments in off-grid solar energy companies across Sub-Saharan Africa demonstrate the positive impact of investing in underserved sectors4.
  2. Encouraging investments in rural and peri-urban areas: Initiatives that focus on bridging the urban-rural divide can help unlock the potential of entrepreneurs in underserved regions. For instance, the Village Capital Rural Development Initiative supports entrepreneurs solving rural challenges and connects them with impact investors5.
  3. Promoting partnerships between investors and local communities: Collaboration between investors and local communities can foster inclusive economic development. Impact investors like Root Capital work directly with farmer cooperatives and agricultural enterprises to provide capital, training, and market connections6.

C. Addressing gender and diversity gaps in venture capital

  1. Encouraging gender diversity within investment teams and decision-makers: Venture capital firms should strive to increase the representation of women and individuals from diverse backgrounds within their teams. For example, African Women in Private Equity (AFWEP) focuses on promoting women’s leadership and participation in the private equity and venture capital industry7.
  2. Implementing policies to reduce bias in investment decision-making: Venture capital firms can develop structured decision-making processes, conduct unconscious bias training, and leverage technology to reduce biases in investment decisions. Organizations like Village Capital have implemented peer-selected investment models to counteract unconscious bias in investment selection8.
  3. Supporting networks and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship: Collaborative efforts, such as networks, associations, and events focused on promoting diversity and inclusion, can foster connections, provide resources, and advocate for inclusive policies. The African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) organizes conferences and programs to empower women entrepreneurs across the continent9.

D. Streamlining regulatory and legal processes

  1. Reviewing and revising regulations that hinder venture capital investments: Governments should review existing regulations to identify and address barriers to venture capital investments. This includes simplifying approval processes, reducing administrative burdens, and fostering a favorable investment climate.
  2. Establishing investor-friendly policies and incentives: Governments can introduce policies and incentives that encourage venture capital investments, particularly in underserved sectors and regions. For example, the Kenyan government introduced tax incentives for angel investors to stimulate early-stage investments in startups10.

By implementing these strategies, stakeholders in Sub-Saharan Africa can create a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem that supports and empowers entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. Collaboration between investors, entrepreneurs, governments, and support organizations is essential to drive lasting change and unlock the region’s entrepreneurial potential.


  • Limited access to funding: Many marginalized entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa still face significant barriers in accessing venture capital funding. Studies, such as the Gap in the Seed Stage Funding Pipeline report by Village Capital and the World Bank1, highlight the funding gap and the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in securing early-stage investments. This indicates that there is still a long way to go in providing adequate funding opportunities for marginalized entrepreneurs.
  • Gender and diversity gaps: Women and other marginalized groups continue to face significant disparities in accessing venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa. The She Invests report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC)2 reveals that women-led businesses in the region receive a disproportionately low share of venture capital investments. This gender gap underscores the need for targeted efforts to address the inequities and provide equal access to capital for all entrepreneurs.
  • Regulatory barriers: Regulatory frameworks and policies in some Sub-Saharan African countries can pose challenges for entrepreneurs seeking venture capital. The Doing Business report by the World Bank3 measures the ease of doing business in various countries and highlights areas where regulatory reforms are needed. These barriers can hinder the flow of venture capital and impede the growth of marginalized entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of creating an enabling environment that encourages investment and fosters entrepreneurship.


Unitus Ventures – Promoting Inclusive Venture Capital in Asia

Unitus Ventures is an impactful organization that has been instrumental in promoting inclusive venture capital in Asia. Founded in 2012, Unitus Ventures focuses on supporting early-stage startups that address critical social and environmental challenges in the region. By combining financial investment with extensive support and mentorship, Unitus Ventures aims to create positive social impact while generating financial returns.

Background: Unitus Ventures operates with the mission of empowering marginalized communities and driving sustainable change through venture capital. Recognizing the vast potential for innovation and entrepreneurship in Asia, the organization aims to bridge the funding gap faced by early-stage startups and provide them with the necessary resources to thrive.


  1. Sector Focus: Unitus Ventures identifies and invests in startups that address pressing social issues, such as healthcare, education, financial inclusion, and livelihoods. By focusing on sectors that directly impact marginalized communities, the organization aims to foster inclusive growth and empower underserved populations.
  2. Support Ecosystem: Unitus Ventures goes beyond providing financial capital and actively supports the growth and development of the startups it invests in. The organization offers a range of support services, including mentorship, operational guidance, access to networks, and industry expertise. This comprehensive support ecosystem helps startups navigate challenges and scale their impact effectively.
  3. Impact Measurement: Unitus Ventures places a strong emphasis on measuring and tracking the impact of its investments. The organization incorporates rigorous impact measurement methodologies to assess the social and environmental outcomes generated by its portfolio companies. By evaluating and reporting impact, Unitus Ventures ensures transparency and accountability in its efforts to promote inclusive venture capital.

Impact: Unitus Ventures has made significant strides in promoting inclusive venture capital in Asia. Since its inception, the organization has supported over 30 innovative startups, positively impacting the lives of millions of individuals across the region1. By investing in ventures that provide affordable healthcare solutions, quality education, and financial services to marginalized communities, Unitus Ventures has played a crucial role in improving access to essential services and opportunities.

Conclusion: Unitus Ventures exemplifies an organization that is actively working towards promoting inclusive venture capital in Asia. By targeting startups that address social challenges, providing comprehensive support, and measuring impact, Unitus Ventures has successfully fostered innovation and positive change in marginalized communities. The case of Unitus Ventures highlights the importance of combining financial investment with robust support systems to create an inc

Image credit: Unitus Ventures – https://www.unitus.vc/impact

“Inclusive venture capital studies consistently demonstrate that embracing diversity and providing equitable access to capital not only drives social impact but also delivers superior financial returns for investors.”

Impact Alpha. (2020). The performance of impact funds. Retrieved from https://impactalpha.com/the-performance-of-impact-funds/ ↩


NXTP Labs – Driving Inclusive Venture Capital in South America

NXTP Labs is a prominent organization that has played a significant role in driving inclusive venture capital in South America. Founded in 2011, NXTP Labs focuses on supporting early-stage tech startups across various sectors, aiming to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and social impact in the region.

Background: With a mission to bridge the funding gap and provide critical support to startups in South America, NXTP Labs has emerged as a key player in the venture capital ecosystem. The organization operates with the belief that supporting early-stage entrepreneurs can drive economic growth and create positive change in the region.


  1. Regional Focus: NXTP Labs has a strong regional focus, investing in startups across multiple countries in South America. By targeting startups in emerging economies, NXTP Labs aims to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.
  2. Acceleration Programs: NXTP Labs offers comprehensive acceleration programs that provide selected startups with funding, mentorship, and access to a vast network of investors, industry experts, and potential partners. These programs help startups refine their business models, scale their operations, and attract further investment.
  3. Sector Expertise: NXTP Labs has developed expertise in key sectors, including fintech, edtech, healthtech, and agtech. By focusing on these sectors, NXTP Labs aligns its investments with areas that have the potential to create significant social impact and generate sustainable growth.


NXTP Labs has made a significant impact on the South American startup ecosystem. The organization has supported over 240 startups to date, facilitating access to capital and resources that enable entrepreneurs to develop and scale their businesses1. Many of these startups have gone on to create jobs, disrupt industries, and address critical social challenges in the region.

Conclusion: NXTP Labs stands as a prime example of an organization driving inclusive venture capital in South America. Through its regional focus, comprehensive acceleration programs, and sector expertise, NXTP Labs has successfully empowered entrepreneurs and contributed to the growth of the startup ecosystem in the region. The case of NXTP Labs underscores the importance of fostering innovation, providing support, and connecting startups with the resources they need to thrive in South America’s dynamic and evolving business landscape.


To foster inclusive venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is essential to implement specific recommendations that address the challenges and promote the participation of marginalized entrepreneurs. These recommendations provide actionable steps for various stakeholders to create a more equitable and accessible venture capital ecosystem in the region.

A. Enhancing awareness and education 

  1. Develop comprehensive entrepreneurship education programs: Governments and organizations should collaborate to develop entrepreneurship education programs that provide marginalized entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the venture capital landscape. For example, the African Leadership Academy offers entrepreneurship training programs targeting young entrepreneurs from across the continent1.
  2. Conduct targeted outreach and awareness campaigns: Initiatives should be launched to raise awareness about venture capital opportunities among marginalized communities. These campaigns can include workshops, seminars, and online resources to educate entrepreneurs about funding options and provide guidance on accessing capital.

B. Promoting diversity in investor networks

  1. Encourage investor networks to prioritize diversity: Investor networks and associations should actively promote diversity within their membership and leadership roles. For instance, the African Venture Capital Association (AVCA) can encourage its members to adopt diversity and inclusion initiatives and provide resources to support the inclusion of underrepresented entrepreneurs2.
  2. Facilitate networking opportunities between diverse entrepreneurs and investors: Events, conferences, and networking platforms should be created to connect diverse entrepreneurs with potential investors. For example, the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit provides a platform for startups to connect with a diverse group of investors and ecosystem players3.

C. Establishing supportive policies and frameworks

  1. Develop inclusive entrepreneurship policies: Governments should develop policies and frameworks that specifically target inclusive venture capital, providing incentives and support for investments in marginalized communities and sectors. The South African Department of Small Business Development has implemented policies to promote access to funding for women, youth, and rural entrepreneurs4.
  2. Streamline regulatory processes: Governments should review and simplify regulatory processes to reduce barriers to venture capital investments. This includes creating clear and transparent investment regulations and improving the efficiency of approval processes.

D. Strengthening support ecosystems

  1. Expand access to mentorship and incubation programs: Support organizations should establish mentorship and incubation programs that specifically cater to the needs of marginalized entrepreneurs. These programs can provide guidance, networking opportunities, and access to resources and funding. The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s TEF Mentorship Program provides mentoring support to entrepreneurs across Africa5.
  2. Collaborate with financial institutions to develop innovative financing models: Financial institutions can collaborate with venture capital firms to develop innovative financing models that cater to the needs of marginalized entrepreneurs. For example, the Uzima Health Fund in Kenya provides tailored financing to healthcare enterprises targeting underserved populations6.

E. Encouraging impact investing and measurement

  1. Promote impact investing practices: Investors should embrace impact investing, considering both financial returns and social/environmental impact. Initiatives like the Impact Investing Network in South Africa (IINSA) can play a crucial role in promoting impact investing practices among investors7.
  2. Establish impact measurement standards: Standardized impact measurement frameworks should be developed to assess the social and environmental impact of venture capital investments. This ensures transparency and accountability in achieving inclusive outcomes.

By implementing these recommendations, stakeholders in Sub-Saharan Africa can foster a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem that empowers marginalized entrepreneurs and drives sustainable economic growth.


  • Research consistently indicates that fostering inclusive venture capital by promoting diversity in investment teams leads to better decision-making and financial performance. Studies, such as “Diversity Matters” by McKinsey & Company, have shown that companies with diverse teams outperform their peers, highlighting the importance of embracing diverse perspectives and experiences in venture capital1.
  • Evidence suggests that inclusive venture capital ecosystems result in greater access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Reports, such as the “ProjectDiane” study by Digitalundivided, reveal that venture capital firms that prioritize diverse founders and invest in underrepresented communities tend to provide more funding opportunities and contribute to closing the funding gap2.
  • The evidence also points to the positive societal impact of fostering inclusive venture capital. Research, including the “Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) Annual Impact Investor Survey,” highlights that investments with a focus on social and environmental impact can generate financial returns while addressing pressing societal challenges, creating a more equitable and sustainable future3.


MaGIC – Fostering Inclusive Venture Capital in Malaysia

MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) is a prominent organization that has played a significant role in fostering inclusive venture capital in Malaysia. Established in 2014, MaGIC is a government-led initiative aimed at catalyzing the startup ecosystem and driving innovation and entrepreneurship across the country.

Background: Recognizing the importance of inclusive venture capital in driving economic growth and social impact, MaGIC has taken a proactive approach to support and nurture startups, particularly those from underrepresented communities. By providing a range of programs and initiatives, MaGIC aims to bridge the gaps in access to capital and resources for entrepreneurs in Malaysia.


  1. Investor Matching: MaGIC facilitates investor matching programs that connect startups with a diverse network of venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate partners. By actively promoting diverse investment opportunities, MaGIC aims to enhance access to capital for startups led by underrepresented founders, including women, ethnic minorities, and rural entrepreneurs.
  2. Capacity Building: MaGIC offers comprehensive capacity-building programs to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the competitive startup landscape. These programs cover various aspects, including fundraising strategies, financial management, pitching techniques, and business development. By strengthening the capabilities of entrepreneurs, MaGIC empowers them to attract venture capital investment and scale their businesses.
  3. Inclusion Initiatives: MaGIC actively promotes diversity and inclusion within the startup ecosystem through initiatives such as Women Entrepreneurship Program (WEP) and Social Entrepreneurship (SE) Impact-driven Enterprise Accreditation (IDEA). These programs provide specialized support, mentorship, and funding opportunities for women entrepreneurs and social enterprises, fostering an inclusive venture capital ecosystem.


MaGIC’s efforts in fostering inclusive venture capital have yielded significant impact in Malaysia. Since its establishment, MaGIC has supported thousands of startups, facilitated millions of dollars in funding, and created job opportunities across various sectors1. By promoting inclusive practices and providing tailored support to underrepresented entrepreneurs, MaGIC has contributed to a more diverse and thriving startup ecosystem in Malaysia.


MaGIC stands as a leading example of an organization fostering inclusive venture capital in Malaysia. Through its investor matching programs, capacity-building initiatives, and inclusion-focused projects, MaGIC has actively worked towards leveling the playing field for underrepresented entrepreneurs. The case of MaGIC demonstrates the significance of targeted programs and support systems in creating an inclusive venture capital ecosystem that drives innovation, economic growth, and social progress.

The case study of MaGIC’s efforts in fostering inclusive venture capital in Malaysia highlights the crucial role organizations can play in creating a more equitable and accessible startup ecosystem. MaGIC’s investor matching programs, capacity-building initiatives, and inclusion-focused projects have successfully addressed the gaps in access to capital and resources for underrepresented entrepreneurs. By promoting diversity and providing tailored support, MaGIC has not only contributed to economic growth but also fostered social impact and empowered marginalized communities. This case study serves as a powerful example of how intentional efforts to foster inclusive venture capital can drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and create a more equitable society. It emphasizes the importance of collaborative initiatives between government, organizations, and stakeholders to create an enabling environment for underrepresented entrepreneurs to thrive.

source: mymagic.my/

case study of Inclusive Venture Capital in Sub-Saharan Africa -  Atlaintis



Caban Investments is at the forefront of providing inclusive venture capital in Atlantis. With a strong commitment to fostering economic growth and social impact, Caban Investments has partnered with QEI Enterprises, a local entrepreneurial initiative, to drive the development of underrepresented entrepreneurs in Atlantis.

Background: Atlantis, a vibrant community known for its rich cultural heritage, has faced socioeconomic challenges that have limited opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. Recognizing the untapped potential and talent in Atlantis, Caban Investments embarked on a mission to provide inclusive venture capital and support to help uplift and empower the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.


  1. Partnership with QEI Enterprises: Caban Investments collaborated with QEI Enterprises, a dynamic group of entrepreneurs dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship in Atlantis. This partnership aimed to provide funding, mentorship, and resources to aspiring entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, including women, minorities, and individuals from low-income communities.
  2. Access to Capital: Caban Investments offered targeted funding opportunities to QEI Enterprises entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary capital to start and grow their businesses. This inclusive venture capital approach helped bridge the funding gap and unlock the potential of entrepreneurs who may have struggled to access traditional financing avenues.
  3. Mentorship and Guidance: Recognizing the importance of mentorship and guidance in entrepreneurial success, Caban Investments provided experienced mentors from their network to support QEI Enterprises entrepreneurs. These mentors offered expertise, industry insights, and valuable connections, enabling the entrepreneurs to navigate challenges and accelerate their growth.

Impact: Through the partnership between Caban Investments and QEI Enterprises, significant impact has been achieved in Atlantis. Numerous underrepresented entrepreneurs have received venture capital funding and guidance, allowing them to turn their innovative ideas into thriving businesses. This has not only created employment opportunities but has also sparked a culture of entrepreneurship and economic resilience within the Atlantis community.

Entrepreneurs supported by Caban Investments and QEI Enterprises have successfully launched businesses across various sectors, such as sustainable tourism, artisanal crafts, and community-based services. The infusion of inclusive venture capital has not only fueled economic growth but has also contributed to the preservation of local culture and the empowerment of marginalized groups in Atlantis.

The case study of Caban Investments’ inclusive venture capital initiative in collaboration with QEI Enterprises showcases the transformative power of providing targeted support to underrepresented entrepreneurs. By offering access to capital, mentorship, and resources, Caban Investments has played a vital role in unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of Atlantis, fostering economic growth, and empowering marginalized communities. This case study serves as an inspiring example of how inclusive venture capital can drive positive change, create opportunities, and uplift communities that have historically been overlooked.

Image credit: QEI Holdings

“Access to inclusive venture capital is a catalyst for transformation in communities like Atlantis. It empowers individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to unleash their entrepreneurial potential, fosters economic growth, and builds a more resilient and equitable society.”

Dave Romero – Group CEO of Caban


“It is now more important than ever for us to ensure there is inclusivity in venture capital.” Ben Botes, MD. at The Caban Group

Creating an inclusive venture capital ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa is not only a matter of equity but also an opportunity to unlock the region’s vast entrepreneurial potential and drive sustainable economic growth. By addressing the challenges and implementing the recommended strategies, stakeholders can create a more equitable and accessible environment for marginalized entrepreneurs to thrive.

To achieve this vision, collaboration among various stakeholders is crucial. Governments, investors, support organizations, and entrepreneurs themselves must work together to create an ecosystem that embraces diversity, reduces barriers, and fosters inclusive practices. By doing so, we can leverage the transformative power of venture capital to drive economic development, job creation, and innovation across Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is imperative for governments to develop supportive policies and regulatory frameworks that promote inclusive venture capital. They must prioritize the reduction of regulatory burdens and incentivize investments in underserved sectors and regions. Governments can also play a critical role in raising awareness and providing entrepreneurship education to marginalized entrepreneurs, empowering them with the knowledge and skills necessary to access and leverage venture capital opportunities.

Investors have a responsibility to actively seek out and support diverse founders. They should prioritize diversity within their investment teams, mitigate unconscious biases, and invest in a wide range of sectors and regions. Investor networks and associations should take the lead in promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives and provide platforms for diverse entrepreneurs to connect with potential investors.

Support organizations, such as mentorship programs, incubators, and accelerators, should tailor their services to address the specific needs of marginalized entrepreneurs. They should create mentorship and training programs, facilitate networking opportunities, and collaborate with financial institutions to develop innovative financing models that cater to underrepresented communities.

Finally, impact measurement and reporting should be integrated into venture capital practices. Establishing standardized impact measurement frameworks will ensure transparency and accountability in achieving inclusive outcomes. Investors should prioritize impact investing practices that generate both financial returns and positive social and environmental impact.

By implementing these recommendations and fostering an inclusive venture capital ecosystem, we can unlock the full potential of Sub-Saharan Africa’s entrepreneurs and drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth across the region.

Together, let us seize this opportunity to make venture capital in Sub-Saharan Africa more inclusive and create a future where every entrepreneur, regardless of their background, has an equal opportunity to succeed and contribute to the region’s prosperity.


  • Evidence shows that inclusive venture capital in Africa drives economic growth by unlocking the untapped potential of underrepresented entrepreneurs, creating jobs, and fostering innovation.
  • Studies demonstrate that diverse investment teams in inclusive venture capital firms lead to better investment decisions and financial performance, highlighting the importance of embracing diversity for optimal outcomes.
  • Inclusive venture capital in Africa has the power to address social and economic inequalities by providing capital, mentorship, and resources to entrepreneurs from marginalized communities, thereby promoting greater socioeconomic inclusion.

Access to inclusive venture capital is crucial for fostering economic growth and reducing inequalities. It enables entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds to access the necessary resources and support to bring their innovative ideas to life, create jobs, and drive sustainable development.”

– World Bank



Inclusive venture capital has the potential to catalyze transformative change in Sub-Saharan Africa by addressing systemic barriers, unlocking untapped potential, and driving economic prosperity. By providing capital, mentorship, and support to entrepreneurs from marginalized communities, inclusive venture capital initiatives create an environment where underrepresented individuals can thrive and contribute to the region’s development.

Inclusive venture capital has the potential to catalyze transformative change in Sub-Saharan Africa, driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and promoting social inclusion. By addressing systemic barriers and providing targeted support to underrepresented entrepreneurs, inclusive venture capital initiatives can unlock the region’s untapped potential and create a more prosperous and equitable society.

  1. Unlocking Untapped Potential: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to a wealth of untapped entrepreneurial talent, especially among marginalized communities. Inclusive venture capital provides the necessary capital, resources, and mentorship to empower these entrepreneurs and turn their innovative ideas into thriving businesses. By providing access to funding and support, inclusive venture capital initiatives unlock the region’s untapped potential and stimulate economic growth.
  2. Fostering Innovation and Technological Advancement: Inclusive venture capital plays a vital role in fostering innovation and technological advancement in Sub-Saharan Africa. By supporting entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas and breakthrough technologies, inclusive venture capital initiatives drive innovation across various sectors. This, in turn, creates new job opportunities, enhances productivity, and boosts economic competitiveness.
  3. Promoting Social Inclusion and Economic Resilience: Inclusive venture capital initiatives prioritize supporting entrepreneurs from marginalized communities, including women, youth, and individuals from low-income backgrounds. By providing them with access to capital, mentorship, and resources, inclusive venture capital promotes social inclusion and economic resilience. It helps bridge the inequality gap, reduce poverty, and empower underrepresented groups to participate actively in economic activities.

Inclusive venture capital has the potential to transform Sub-Saharan Africa by unlocking untapped potential, fostering innovation, and promoting social inclusion. Through targeted support, access to capital, and mentorship, inclusive venture capital initiatives empower underrepresented entrepreneurs and marginalized communities to thrive. The case studies of One Acre Fund, Andela, and Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator illustrate how inclusive venture capital has already driven positive change and contributed to economic growth and social progress in Sub-Saharan Africa. By expanding and scaling inclusive venture capital efforts, the region can unlock its full potential, create sustainable livelihoods, and build a more prosperous and equitable future for all.


  • Evidence shows that inclusive venture capital in South Africa promotes economic growth and job creation, with a study by Endeavor South Africa revealing that companies backed by venture capital funding experienced an average annual revenue growth of 59%
  • Studies have found that inclusive venture capital in South Africa has a positive impact on gender diversity, with research from the South African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA) indicating that companies with gender-diverse teams outperform their peers by 15% in terms of financial returns.
  • The evidence suggests that inclusive venture capital in South Africa helps address the financing gap for underrepresented entrepreneurs. A report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) highlighted that lack of access to capital remains a significant barrier for entrepreneurs, especially those from marginalized communities, underscoring the need for targeted support through inclusive venture capital initiatives.

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One Acre Fund in Kenya

One Acre Fund, a social enterprise operating in Kenya, provides inclusive venture capital to smallholder farmers. Through financial and technical support, including access to seeds, fertilizer, and training, One Acre Fund enables farmers to improve their productivity and income. This inclusive venture capital model has empowered thousands of smallholder farmers, transforming their livelihoods, and contributing to food security and poverty reduction.

Andela in Nigeria

Andela, a tech company based in Nigeria, received inclusive venture capital to train and connect African software developers with global companies. This investment not only fueled the growth of Andela but also contributed to the emergence of a vibrant tech ecosystem in Nigeria and other African countries. By providing access to capital and resources, inclusive venture capital has helped unleash the innovative potential of African entrepreneurs, positioning them at the forefront of technological advancements.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in South Africa

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in South Africa leverages inclusive venture capital to address youth unemployment. By connecting young job seekers with skills development programs and employment opportunities, Harambee has helped thousands of youth gain access to dignified work and break the cycle of poverty. Through inclusive venture capital, Harambee has demonstrated the transformative power of investing in marginalized communities and fostering economic inclusion.



Caban Investments, a leading impact investment firm, exemplifies the power of inclusive venture capital by investing in innovative and socially impactful enterprises. The case study of Caban Investments’ investment in Khaya Khanya highlights the transformative potential of inclusive venture capital in South Africa, where recycled polystyrene is turned into strong lightweight concrete blocks. This investment not only creates employment opportunities but also supports the environment by reducing waste and promoting sustainable building practices.

Khaya Khanya is a social enterprise based in South Africa that addresses two pressing challenges: unemployment and waste management. By harnessing the potential of recycled polystyrene, Khaya Khanya produces lightweight concrete blocks that are used in construction projects, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials.

Investing in Khaya Khanya for Social and Environmental Impact

Caban Investments recognized the social and environmental benefits of Khaya Khanya’s innovative business model. With a commitment to inclusive venture capital, Caban invested in Khaya Khanya to support its growth and impact in two key areas: job creation and environmental sustainability.

Employment Generation: By investing in Khaya Khanya, Caban Investments facilitated the expansion of the enterprise’s operations, leading to increased employment opportunities. Khaya Khanya hires and trains individuals from local communities, including previously unemployed individuals, and provides them with stable income and skills development. This not only improves their livelihoods but also contributes to poverty alleviation and economic empowerment within these communities.

Environmental Sustainability: The utilization of recycled polystyrene in Khaya Khanya’s concrete blocks reduces waste and minimizes the environmental impact associated with traditional building materials. By diverting polystyrene waste from landfills, the enterprise plays a crucial role in waste management and promotes a circular economy. Additionally, the lightweight nature of the concrete blocks lowers transportation costs and energy consumption during construction, further reducing the carbon footprint of building projects.

The Impact: Caban Investments’ investment in Khaya Khanya has resulted in significant social and environmental impact. The enterprise has created employment opportunities for individuals who were previously marginalized, providing them with sustainable livelihoods and empowering local communities. Moreover, Khaya Khanya’s innovative use of recycled polystyrene contributes to waste reduction and supports environmentally friendly construction practices, promoting sustainable development and mitigating the environmental impact of the building sector.

The case study of Caban Investments’ investment in Khaya Khanya exemplifies the transformative power of inclusive venture capital in South Africa. By investing in enterprises like Khaya Khanya that address social and environmental challenges, Caban Investments showcases the potential for inclusive venture capital to drive positive change. Through job creation, waste reduction, and sustainable building practices, Khaya Khanya demonstrates how inclusive venture capital can simultaneously create economic opportunities, support communities, and protect the environment. This case study serves as an inspiring example for other investors and stakeholders, highlighting the importance of inclusive venture capital in driving sustainable and inclusive development.

To make inclusive venture capital more widely practiced, there are several key challenges that need to be confronted:

  1. Bias and Stereotypes: Overcoming unconscious biases and stereotypes is crucial. Inclusive venture capital requires recognizing and challenging prevailing biases that limit investment opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Investors need to embrace diversity and actively seek out investment opportunities from diverse backgrounds and communities.
  2. Access to Networks and Resources: Bridging the gap in access to networks and resources is essential. Many underrepresented entrepreneurs lack the connections and resources necessary to access venture capital. Efforts should focus on creating inclusive networks, mentorship programs, and providing entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the venture capital landscape.
  3. Risk Perception and Returns: Addressing risk perception and demonstrating the potential returns of inclusive investments is necessary. Investors may perceive investments in underrepresented entrepreneurs as riskier, resulting in limited capital allocation. Highlighting success stories and showcasing the economic and social impact of inclusive venture capital can help change these perceptions and encourage more investors to engage in inclusive investment practices.
  4. Capacity Building: Building the capacity of underrepresented entrepreneurs is vital. It involves providing training, mentorship, and support to enhance their business acumen and investment readiness. Programs that focus on financial literacy, pitch training, and access to professional networks can empower entrepreneurs to present their businesses effectively and attract venture capital.
  5. Policy and Regulatory Support: Creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment is crucial. Governments and regulatory bodies can play a significant role in fostering inclusive venture capital by implementing policies that incentivize diversity, provide tax incentives for impact investments, and streamline regulations to reduce barriers for underrepresented entrepreneurs.
  6. Data Collection and Monitoring: Improving data collection and monitoring efforts is essential for measuring progress and identifying gaps. It is crucial to collect disaggregated data on investment flows, demographics of entrepreneurs, and the impact of inclusive venture capital initiatives. This data can inform evidence-based policymaking, identify areas for improvement, and hold stakeholders accountable for driving inclusivity.

Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and community organizations. By confronting these barriers head-on, we can pave the way for a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem that unlocks the full potential of underrepresented entrepreneurs and drives sustainable economic growth and social impact.

“Shifting our mindset towards inclusive venture capital is not just an act of social responsibility, but a strategic imperative for unlocking untapped potential, driving innovation, and creating a more equitable and prosperous future for all.”



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  3. African Leadership Academy. Entrepreneurial Leadership. Retrieved from [https://www.africanleadershipacademy.org/]
  4. African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA). (2018). Gender Diversity in African Private Equity. Retrieved from [https://www.avca-africa.org/]
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  6. African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF). About AWIEF. Retrieved from [https://awieforum.org/]
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  11. International Finance Corporation (IFC). (2019). She Invests: Closing the Gender Gap in Venture Capital. Retrieved from [https://www.ifc.org/]
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  13. Kenya Climate Ventures. Uzima Health Fund. Retrieved from [https://kenyaclimateventures.com/]
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  15. Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda. (2019). Women’s Economic Empowerment Policy. Retrieved from [https://www.minicom.gov.rw/]
  16. Root Capital. Approach: Impact Investing. Retrieved from [https://rootcapital.org/]
  17. Tony Elumelu Foundation. Entrepreneurship Programme. Retrieved from [https://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/]
  18. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2019). Inclusive Venture Capital for Development in Africa. Retrieved from [https://www.undp.org/]
  19. Village Capital & World Bank. (2019). The Gap in the Seed Stage Funding Pipeline. Retrieved from [https://www.vilcap.com/]
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  21. Village Capital. Rural Development Initiative. Retrieved from [https://www.vilcap.com/]
  22. World Bank. (2019). Doing Business 2020. Retrieved from [https://www.worldbank.org/]

This white paper, created by the Caban Insights Team, is born out of a deep commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the community of Atlantis. It is a testament to the memory of Maggie Vaas, a remarkable individual from the Atlantis Dream Team, whose unwavering dedication and tireless efforts touched the lives of countless individuals in Atlantis. Inspired by Maggie’s legacy, this paper aims to shed light on the importance of inclusive venture capital in transforming the lives of marginalized communities. It serves as a tribute to her passion for empowering others and stands as a call to action to build a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

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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.