Partners and Memberships
iYa Ventures is a seed stage community development venture capital and advisory firm that leverages all forms of capital — financial, intellectual and strategic — to accelerate the growth of early-stage technology-enabled companies in Sub-Saharan Africa (“SSA”). iYa is accepting commitments from accredited investors for its “Technology, Impact and Opportunity Fund” (the “Fund”).
The Fund invests seed capital and technical assistance to support the growth of high impact technology-enabled companies. Our mission is to facilitate the capacity of entrepreneurs leveraging new technology to deliver substantially improved goods and services and at a lower cost to more people in (SSA) that have a built-in impact, the first such fund of its kind.
The Problem: A few years ago iYa’s founder encountered the problems that many seed-stage investors still face while he was working as a litigator on Wall Street. Specifically, angel investors seeking technology ventures find it economically inefficient to conduct the search, conduct the due diligence on the company and support these ventures effectively. Similarly, socially-minded investors seeking high-impact ventures rarely find them to be commercially viable or sustainable. This problem is compounded when the companies are thousands of miles away.
The Solution: iYa solves the problem facing investors seeking financial returns alongside social impact by co-investing with trusted local investors, and further mitigates risk by providing technical assistance and focusing on fast-growing, large, addressable existing markets. We focus on technology-enabled companies with high growth potential, lower capital requirements, and have demonstrated demand via data-rich pilots. Our existing portfolio is experiencing double-digit growth.
iYa originated after alumni from Columbia Law School and the London School of Economics pooled capital to invest directly in successful technology-enabled companies in Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia, where some of the members were from. The group slowly built an investment network with other investors and practitioners from the African diaspora, and were joined by Americans with no connection to Africa.
As a former refugee from Ghana, Kwame is committed to mission-driven investing and through experience has identified a profitable approach to invest private equity for the public good in Africa.
Co-investing in fast-growing sectors that also have high social and/or environmental impact in Africa but may operate, be registered or headquartered in the United States and Canada – Focus on impacting underserved consumers across ECOWAS with a bias to Ghana, Nigeria as well as Ethiopia, in sectors with high social impact:
- agri tech
- food security tech
- renewal energy tech
We invest in the entrepreneurs leveraging the digital economy to penetrate existing markets while expanding into the untapped oft-ignored consumer or enterprise.
Our unique value proposition emerges in part from a deep, practical understanding of the Ghanaian, Nigerian and Ethiopian markets, its consumer behaviour and enterprise demands.
SSA’s venture capital space is still very much in its nascent phase. Few players stand out and those that do lack experience in seed-stage venture investing, making it less competitive and an under-served investment class. Success requires ensuring that the risk/reward dynamics are favorable and having access to follow-on capital.
We have spent the past two years developing a strong pipeline of tech-enabled businesses while building relationships with investors seeking not just financials returns but also social impact. We leveraged our expertise in SSA to connect North American capital with promising technology companies, including three of Nigeria’s fastest-growing such ventures.
We will leverage our experience in African venture capital to efficiently source, screen, invest and support portfolio companies using technology to expand into the untapped markets.
Lower-cost basis and expanding markets
Because we focus on seed-stage investing, we are able to get in to deals earlier, and thus, our initial cost basis is lower.
Because we focus on companies leveraging new technology to become more efficient, we can invest in under-targeted markets that high potential for social impact. These companies are delivering solutions that are disruptive to existing markets and can profitably expand into bigger markets (e.g. bottom of the pyramid).
Sourcing: We identify investing opportunities through a combined network spanning Africa and the diaspora in Europe and North America.
Commercial Screening: We leverage practical experience working with African companies and our personal experiences growing up in Africa to identify companies with six (6) months+ of revenue growth, and positioned to bring technology-enabled workflow processes to deliver better, faster, cheaper goods and services to an expanding consumer base in Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
Social Screening: Focus on selective seed and Series A-B rounds with defensible market positions. Focus on fast-growing sectors with high social impact potential, including food security and healthcare delivery, education, financial inclusion, environment, shelter etc.
Engagement: We work with the companies we back to look for ways to improve their community and environmental impacts while also increasing the value of the businesses over the 5-7 year holding period.
Reporting: We report to our investors on the social impact of the companies we back as well as their financial and commercial performance
Operations: Because of the size of the fund, we have been very deliberate about maintaining a lean operation, staffing on a per-deal basis to date and expanding when AUM allows for it. Additionally, we anticipate needing only one full-time fund manager throughout the life of the fund, and in target countries, we have existing partnerships with angel investors, incubators and accelerators that significantly lower screening costs.
Operational and legal fees for this first fund have been dramatically reduced by a combination of proprietary capital and existing relationships with institutional partners, including the University of Michigan, Columbia University and global law professional service firms.