In 2019, female-led companies received less than 5 percent of the global venture capital. Bringing it to Africa, only 10 percent of the West African startups that cumulatively raised $1 million had at least one female co-founder in the past decade.
There are many stats to back up the underrepresentation of women in starting a company, raising money and general involvement in technology where the global tech workforce comprises 28.8% women.
FirstCheck Africa, a female-focused angel fund that launched yesterday, is hoping to address this challenge. According to the fund, “fixing capital access for female tech entrepreneurs in Africa needs an intentional, female-led approach.”
FirstCheck Africa was founded by Eloho Omame and Odunayo Eweniyi. Omame is the MD of Endeavor Nigeria, a program for high-impact entrepreneurs, and Eweniyi is the co-founder and COO of Piggyvest, a Nigerian fintech startup.
Omame’s experience working with founders and managing a VC firm (Amari Ventures) and Odunayo’s as a founder will prove vital to what FirstCheck Africa hopes to achieve: Making it easy for African women to raise capital and invest in tech.
The fund will provide between $15,000 to $25,000 in six women this year in exchange for modest equity. FirstCheck Africa plans to see each woman or female-led team through the ideation stage to a significant pre-seed round within 12 months.
“We know we can generate solid long-term returns by investing in women, so we’ll write female founders’ first checks and be their earliest believers. We’re not afraid to invest ridiculously early in great women,” an excerpt in the statement read.
The fund also specifies that it is open to investing in mixed co-founder teams, with at least one woman. But the caveat is “only where it’s clear that the woman is a true partner and decision-maker, with a significant, equitable split of the founder equity.”
Already, FirstCheck has received over 600 applications from African female-led startups. But she iterates that while only six will be selected, FirstCheck is in no hurry to announce the deals when asked how soon the firm expects to write its first check.
“We’ve been transparent with our investment goal as we’re backing up to six women-led, technology-driven businesses this year,” she said. “Outside that, there’s little interest from Odun or me to rush to announce deals. The work we’re doing is important and necessary, but it will take time.”
When you think about it, backing six startups in its first year is an impressive goal. For context, Microtraction, an already established early-stage VC firm, invested in seven startups last year. To achieve that, FirstCheck will need to garner support from local and international investors that are intentional about closing the gender funding gap on the continent. Without providing specifics around how much the fund is looking to raise, Omame says this is already happening.
That said, FirstCheck will be building a female-led investor community for women interested