The ALN Ventures class of 2015 represents a group of top flight entrepreneurs from across the continent. They’ve been keeping especially busy since February, when ALN welcomed them in Johannesburg for a two-week ALN Ventures Intensive. As ALN Ventures prepares for ALN2015 in Marrakech in November, we take stock of some of the key achievements of the program since the beginning of the year:
“With the Ventures program, we were able to broaden our universe of financing options,” remarked Cherae Robinson of Tastemakers Africa. “ALN members participated in our recent $125k angel round. And these investors don’t just bring cash to the table. They’re the value-added equity partners you’re always reading about. One of our ALN investors, for example, owns night clubs in East Africa, which are going to take our Tastemakers launch parties—and our brand awareness—to the next level.”
“Through ALN Ventures, Stawi Foods has really upped its game as far as governance is concerned,” said founder Eric Muthomi. “With ALN’s support, we built a board of directors that brings critical perspectives to the table: whether it’s finance, business-building, or investing, our board has ‘been there, done that.’ We’ve noticed that investors are skittish about governance when it comes to African companies in general. So we’re excited that ALN Ventures has empowered us to pre-empt their concerns, by helping us build a world-class board.”
“The Ventures program transformed the way we think about mentors and advisors,” said Tiffany Tong of Nikweli. “Access to the ALN community is so powerful for our business. Whenever we need guidance from someone senior who’s ‘been there,’ ALN is always our first port of call. For example, I recently needed a hand rehearsing my pitch, and through the Ventures program was able to connect with Emelda Mwamanga. Emelda is so inspiring, and her one-on-one feedback has really impacted on the way we talk about our business.”
Marypatton Davis, a rising MBA candidate at The Wharton School, was seconded by ALN Ventures to Stawi for the summer. “Marypatton made a huge contribution to Stawi,” said Muthomi. “She really changed the way we work with data and think about sales. One of the absolute best things about the Ventures program is that it got us access to world-class talent at an affordable price.”
We’re excited about all the progress these companies have made since the ALN Ventures program began. And we can’t wait to see all our Ventures entrepreneurs in one place in Morocco in November. We’ll be accepting applications for our second cohort of the ALN Ventures program in the first quarter of 2016. Stay tuned on our Twitter feed for details!