IYA refers to the name given to a complex of moats that surrounded the Kingdom of Dahomey (modern day Benin, bordering Nigeria). These moats were built before the use of modern earth-moving technology, and the Guinness Book of World Record deems it the largest man-made earthwork in the world. The iya moats were dug around the kingdom and filled with water, providing a means of defense and enabling the Kingdom to grow its fortunes.
African ingenuity enabled the construction of iya then, allowing local entrepreneurship to flourish, protecting both economic and social innovation. Today, African entrepreneurship is slowly gaining global prominence. And savvy investors are selecting promising companies built out of kanju, meaning “the specific creativity born from African difficulty,” (Yoruba term popularized by Dayo Olopade in her book, “The Bright Continent”)
At iYa Ventures, our origins inform our philosophy: fortunes will be made by identifying, supporting and scaling the small and medium ventures borne out of kanju and possessing economic moats.