6 African women CEOs discuss how they raised more than $1M in 2021

6 African women CEOs discuss how they raised more than $1M in 2021

Women-founded companies in the U.S. raised more money from venture capitalists in 2021 than ever. Reports indicate they secured 83% more funding than the previous year, primarily attributed to the record-setting $329 billion U.S. startups raked last year.

But according to data from PitchBook, less than 2% of VC funding went to all-women-founded teams in 2021. It’s identical to what’s happening in Africa: Less than 1% of all VC dollars went toward startups with one or more women founders last year, according to The Big Deal , which details investments in Africa. On the bright side, founding teams counting both women and men as members raised $750 million, or 17% of VC investments in Africa in 2021.

These numbers are more frightening when retraced almost a decade back. According to Briter Bridges , another publication that tracks VC investments in Africa, only 3% of the total funding raised by startups in Africa since 2013 has gone all-women co-founded teams.

So despite total funding for women-founded companies reaching $834 million in 2021, per Partech Africa — a VC firm and data tracker of African investments — and the number of women in venture capital increasing, their representation remains minute against a faster-growing percentage of startups run by men.

Less than 2% of venture capital funding went to all-female founding teams in 2021, marking a five-year low, new data from PitchBook shows. All-female founding teams did receive 83% more funding in 2021 in absolute dollars compared to the year prior, but that’s likely because U.S. startups overall raked in a record amount of cash … Continue reading

Women-founded startups in Africa to have raised $100 million or more are led mainly by white CEOs. Not that it’s any fault of theirs, but the representation of their companies being Africa-based skew funding results in such a way that they don’t capture how much of an enormous feat it is for African women to raise $1 million.

Before 2021, only a handful (women-led startups that raised $1 million or more with African women as CEOs) had secured that much funding. In 2021, 11 such startups achieved that feat, a record year for this group. We spoke with six of them to share their fundraising experiences in a venture capital market that can be unfriendly toward women.

Editor’s note: These responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Here’s who we talked to: Jessica Anuna, CEO, Klasha

Please tell us what your company does.

Klasha is a technology company that allows international merchants such as H&M or Zara to receive payments online in local African currencies and money methods. African consumers can make payments to international merchants in over five African currencies through the KlashaCheckout; the merchant then receives their payout in G20 currencies.

This allows international merchants to scale into Africa seamlessly through our technology and, in turn, allows African consumers to access global goods and services frictionlessly.

What theories concerning women founders did you have at the back of your mind when starting your company, and did it affect you at the early stages?

I was cognizant that women only received less than 1% of venture funding globally, but that wasn’t at the forefront of my mind as I started my journey or as I pitched to VCs or angels. In fact, it wasn’t something I thought about at all. I’ve always been bullish about shipping products that created an impact during my career, so I knew if we had a strong enough product-market fit, we would get funded.

At what point did you begin looking for investors for your company?

Right at the start, our first institutional check was from Techstars in Dubai six months after we started the company. They believed in the team, vision, mission and the opportunity of building streamlined cross-border commerce solutions for African consumers. The market opportunity was there; e-commerce is less than 10 years old in Africa, with a 3% penetration rate and a 27% personal consumption rate in Africa, the second-highest after Asia.

How did you handle your first “no,” and how has that changed recently, especially with your company raising more than a million dollars?

I got nos right from the start and that was fine. I’d get a no, ask why and affect their feedback if I agreed with it and it aligned with my vision for the company. Today, more VC firms are willing to speak with us, but that doesn’t guarantee additional funding. Some still pass on investment or pass and invest at a later stage […]

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