Three enterprises from Kenya, two from Nigeria, one from Madagascar and one from Zimbabwe are the recipients of the inaugural $2m Jua Fund, the largest African venture capital fund by a private individual.
Bryt-Knowledge (Zimbabwe), GrowAgric (Kenya), Jirogasy (Madagascar), Powerstove Energy (Nigeria), Side (Kenya), Whispa Health (Nigeria) and Xetova (Kenya) all agreed to deals with the fund after a weeklong “Kickstarter Olympics” where they pitched their ideas to a high-profile panel of judges.
The final deal closure and disbursement will be contingent on the enterprises passing a due diligence and other agreed terms and conditions.
The fund will provide equity to the enterprises, mentorship and advisory support, and connect them with investors.
THE SUCCESSFUL RECIPIENTS
* Bryt-Knowledge, Zimbabwe: a multifaceted online educational platform that connects students with subject matter experts
* GrowAgric, Kenya: a crowd-farming platform that connects farmers to working capital, allowing them to scale and meet market demand while delivering profitability to themselves and their sponsors
* Jirogasy, Madagascar: a company that manufactures, assembles and designs solar home systems and communication systems
* Powerstove Energy, Nigeria: a company that uses advanced technology to deliver a superior smokeless, IoT-enabled cookstove that generates electricity
* Side, Kenya: an e-commerce distribution channel that leverages the power of “community” or “group buying” to provide goods to end customers more cheaply
* Whispa Health Limited, Nigeria: a mobile app that provides young people with non-judgmental access to sexual and reproductive health information, products and services
* Xetova, Kenya: a technology solutions provider to the procurement ecosystem
African industrialist Adam Molai launched the Jua (meaning sunrise in Kiswahili) Fund in November 2020 inspired by his dream to develop Africa through the empowerment of entrepreneurs.
Molai says the exercise had over-delivered on his expectations.
“The Jua fund is a tiny drop in the ocean in our effort to unite African grey hairs with our bright young future through funding and mentorship support. After listening to the pitches and presentations during the Kickstarter Olympics, my faith and hope have more than been repaid.
“We have brilliant entrepreneurs on this continent. My fellow judges and I were impressed by all our finalists, even those that fell away during the week,” he says.
Molai says he is especially delighted that the recipients have the ability to deliver the impact he wants the Jua Fund to have.
“We targeted enterprises that are scalable on the continent and actually address the challenges hobbling Africa’s development. Jirogasy and Bryt-Knowledge will be furthering education, one through hardware, the other through software; Side and GrowAgric are disrupting the value chain of goods from farm to table; Powerstove Energy is saving the environment with its cooking stove innovation; Whispa Health is taking care of wellbeing; and Xetova is adding African flair to procurement. We look forward to a long and productive future for all of them,” he says.
Molai says an unexpected boon is the high number of female representation among the recipients — four have female founders or co-founders and/or CEOs.
Bryt-Knowledge founder chair Joseph Hundah says the selection process helped rethink and refine his business. “The questions put to us [during the Kickstarter Olympics] really made us think … We thank the judges for choosing us, for believing in us. I want to see Bryt-Knowledge be successful and rolled out across Africa.”
He believes entrepreneurship will lift Africa out of poverty and hopes to one day have the money to emulate the Jua Fund.
Cathy Chepkemboi, Side founder and CEO, says she is excited and is looking forward to working with the Jua Fund.
“I’m so happy. It’s my dream,” says Okey Esse, Powerstove Africa founder and CEO. “We’ve had lots of companies who want to give us funds, but I keep telling them as much as we need funds, we need people who can bring value, especially to open markets for us. What the Jua Fund is bringing to the table is just the boost we are looking for.”
The panel of 17 judges included professor Benedict Oramah, $20bn African Export-Import Bank president; Dr Amany Asfour, African Business Council and Comesa Trade Promotions Council chair; Joel Nettey, International Advertising Association president; Brad Magrath, founder of Zoona, Zambia’s leading money transfer platform; and Anna Henry Nyimbo, founder of Cartrack Tanzania and Neoboemi Africa.