Frankfurt (Germany), March 2021. ShEquity, in collaboration with GreenTec Capital and Djembe Consultants, hosted a “fireside chat” webinar to celebrate International Women’s Day. ShEquity Founder & Managing Director, Pauline Koebl, and Vuyolwethu Dubese, Innovation Consultant & Founder of Innovtel, led an interesting discussion with five speakers focused on gender lens Investing and closing the gender funding gap.
Ms. Vuyolweth opened the event welcoming the group in several languages, and introducing the keynote speaker, Tara Sabre Collier, Advisor & General Lead at the Shell Foundation. She said “Gender lens investing is essential. While women represent 50% of the world’s population, they typically earn half of what men earn. There is a clear rationale for anyone who cares about impact.” She emphasized there is a commercial case in addition to social case for gender lens investing. “As much as 26% growth could be added to world economy…” through successful gender lens investing.
Ms. Collier offered some insightful detail. “There is not enough early-stage capital in Africa and that is what women entrepreneurs need most.” She added “African women entrepreneurs receive only 11% of seed capital and 5% of Series A capital.”
Pauline Koebl of ShEquity, a woman focused investment firm, began by acknowledging that Ms. Collier’s comments should make people uncomfortable and those inequalities are what motivated her to pursue a career in gender investing. She said “Smart investing is key to unlocking the $42B gender funding gap in Africa” and introduced Tenemba Anna Samake, CFO of ShEquity and Executive Director of MBC Africa, a collaborative platform providing comprehensive business solutions for SMEs. She said, “Agri-business is the best approach to solving problems.” Ms. Samake said her firm offers affordable and accessible approaches for women small holder farmers to succeed on the African agricultural value chain. She said “There is a big need for business and life mentoring.” Ms. Samake said MBC Africa emphasizes that “Self-esteem is important for life and business,” and offers specific programs for women to receive [psychological] support and mentoring.
Shelly Kelly, Head of Consulting at GreenTec Capital, said “Our firm is now focusing on working closely with the ecosystem including the hubs and investors to support local entrepreneurs.” She offered a few encouraging statistics about GreenTec. “Our firm had no women employees in 2018 and now we have 16, almost 50% of our staff.” She added “I want to make sure we always have a women’s point of view in everything we do.” Mrs. Kelly spoke of the power of Djelin, the latest addition to the GreenTec Group, that is supporting investment. “Djelin is a digital platform that utilizes a unique algorithm to bring international investors and startups together. This will no doubt work towards reducing the gender financing gap in Africa.”
Ms Koebl introduced Dr. Starlin Farah, Co-Founder & COO of Ecodudu, a GreenTec Capital portfolio company that utilizes Black Solider Fly larvae to produce fertilizer and animal feed. Ms. Koebl asked “How do you do it all?” Dr. Farah responded “I am a medical doctor and work 24/7 in the hospital, but Edodudu is my baby.” She went on to say “Women are emotionally strong, winners and multi-taskers,” and added a statement that was repeated several times later in the webinar. “Just do it!”
Dr. McLean Sibanda, Managing Director of Bigen Global Ltd., an infrastructure development solution company, joined the conversation by noting his uniqueness in the group. “I am in the minority. I am the only man on the panel.” He suggested in the future he will not participate in any panels where there is not an equal number of women to men. He said “Women have particular skills to assess what is in the best interest of society and community. My experience, women led businesses have a higher survival rate. When investing, I would insist on women being on the management team.”
All panel participants emphasized the importance of the global investment community to take action to bridge the gender funding gap, and ultimately improve the lives of all humankind. GreenTec is honored to have co-hosted the fireside chat alongside other impact-focused actors within the African start-up ecosystem and we remain committed to our mission of empowering African entrepreneurs. We were thrilled to have both our own Shelly Kelly, as well as, investee Dr. Starlin Farah as panelists providing valuable context to gender lens investing in Africa. We are very proud to echo Ms. Koebl’s closing statement “Just do it!