It’s important to stack or layer your goals by setting both short-term and long-term targets that materialise at different times.
What do you do?
I work at Goodwell Investments, a Dutch impact-focused Venture Capital fund that has invested in emerging markets from India to Africa since 2006. Our goal is to provide access to people living at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) across all sectors at an early stage. I currently lead the Impact team (Environmental, Social and Governance – ESG; and Impact Measurement and Management – IMM) and work as an Investment Associate.
I am responsible for overseeing and coordinating all ESG and IMM reporting, maintaining our frameworks, and the continuous improvement of them. On the investment side, I manage two of our portfolio companies – an aquaculture company and a mobility player, as well as hunting for new potential start-up investments.
At Young African Catalysts (YAC), we currently have a community- based fellowship for people working in the African Venture Capital ecosystem. As it stands, we have around 50 leading Africa-focused VCs with about 60 representatives from each, and about 250 deals shared per year. In April this year we will begin our Talent training offering, an eight week course focused on utilising our current 60+ fellows to upskill future YACs who want to break into VC. Beyond that, we currently also offer a Venture Scouting service to start-ups looking for funding.
How have your degrees helped you in your career?
While my finance background certainly helped me break into the industry and grasp certain concepts and business fundamentals, Venture Capitalists are not primarily seeking specific academic experience. Instead, they value individuals who possess a curious mindset and the ability to generate unique perspectives, iterate on them and, based on that, identify suitable opportunities. It’s the individual's personality and approach, rather than their formal education, which drives success in the field.
What has been a highlight of your career so far?
Last year, I had the privilege of speaking at the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) annual event in The Hague, which is the world’s largest gathering focused on Impact Investing with approximately 2,000 attendees. My panel discussed the use of Impact Performance Analytics for investment decision- making, during which I presented Goodwell’s impact framework and a proprietary Impact Scoring system that I developed for the company.
What advice would you give to students?
I would try and limit the number of things that you prioritise. Consistent work on fewer things will take you a lot further than sporadic sprints on multiple projects
How do you see your industry evolving in the near future, specifically in Africa?
I believe that the African Venture Capital ecosystem will continue to attract significant foreign investment in the coming years. As a nascent market with a growing population and a disproportionately young demographic, the start-up ecosystem offers tremendous potential to unlock value from the available workforce.
Beyond this, I expect that incoming foreign investment will prioritise a nuanced understanding of the unique contexts within each of our 54 diverse countries. The realisation that one cannot ‘plug and play’ across the continent, especially not from developed markets, will necessitate the need for people who can provide such insights.