Supporting high-potential women-owned enterprises is smart economics. How so? Study after study shows that female-founders not only outperform their male peers, but they generate higher investment returns than their male counterparts.
With funding so pivotal to accelerate business growth, the male-centric investment framework needs to change.
While several African venture firms are giving some attention to female-founded startups, existing funds and accelerators are on-boarding more women; and still, others exclusively target women-owned businesses.
In the latter category is Enygma Ventures, a Cape Town-based women-led VC firm, that is committed to investing in passionate women entrepreneurs in South Africa.
Co-founded in 2019 by Sarah Dusek, Enygma Ventures has invested $3.5 million in 10 businesses in South Africa, Zambia, and Eswatini, earning it a spot on the list of Africa’s most active investors for 2020 according to Briter Bridges‘ recent report.
According to Dusek, her experience as a female has a great bearing on her decision to become an investor. She disclosed that raising capital is hard in itself and even 1000% harder as a female, raising capital outside of Silicon Valley.
“With just a fraction of global venture funds being deployed across the continent, Africa is an extraordinary opportunity.
We established Enygma because we wanted to tackle inequality through 3 lenses – gender, race, and geography. Thus investing diversely, not only from a gender perspective but also a race and geography perspective, was important to us.”, she said.
Commenting on the vision of the firm, Lelemba Phiri, Enygma Ventures’ operating partner, said:
“We are industry agnostic, which means we invest in any sector where women are thriving. We are passionate about driving progressive change on the African continent.”
Narrowing down to African women, the fund led by these driven investors aims to deepen gender equality in the continent.
Expansion to cover SADC region
Understanding that though Africa has no shortage of talent, it lacks capital and needs advocates to help bridge the gap to help women develop capacity and grow sustainable businesses, Enygma Ventures aims to close that gap.
This year, the fund plans to invest in innovative women entrepreneurs in the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, especially key SADC markets such as Malawi and Tanzania.
“We want to widen our net this year as our fund mandate covers all 16 countries in the SADC region. This quarter we are particularly looking to increase participation from key markets like Tanzania and Malawi which have in the past recorded fewer VC investments, yet have exciting opportunities,” says Phiri.
How Enygma Ventures works
In addition to providing seed funding for startups, the investment fund also supports its portfolio companies to foster faster growth post-investment.
Applications for investment are open three times a year. Shortlisted entrepreneurs are then trained through investor-readiness programs. Founders at the ideation stage are put through the Startup Circles program, enabling them to validate their business quickly and efficiently.
Don’t miss important articles during the week. Subscribe to techbuild weekly digest for updates.