New Venture Africa is a social enterprise supporting early stage companies in Sub Saharan Africa with free strategy consulting assistance. We ran our pilot project in March, with two GrowthAfrica startups, Wayo (a current cohort member) and StudyInKenya (an alumnus).
New Venture Africa offers top tier business professionals from around the world the opportunity to work as strategy consultants, delivering high impact work with startups in East Africa. Projects are carefully scoped and last for two to three week periods, focusing on monetization, revenue growth and investor readiness. Our efforts are focused on early stage companies that are solving problems in the education, healthcare, finance and agricultural sectors.
New Venture Africa was founded in 2015 with the mission to support the startup ecosystem in Sub Saharan Africa, making new companies scalable and more attractive to investors and to revolutionize corporate training programmes by offering talented professionals the opportunity to develop their strategic, entrepreneurial, project management and leadership skills whilst creating a positive social impact.
Due to our extensive business network around the world and especially within startup ecosystems in the Sub Saharan Africa we succeeded in developing a unique model. Our contacts within universities, graduate schemes, corporates and MBA cohorts, provide us with access to talented individuals and teams that are eager to put their strategic skills to good use.
Our consultants go through a stringent selection process before joining our projects, and we are careful to match their skill sets and interests with the projects we work on. We look for people from a varied range of backgrounds and experiences, and ensure that among their core reasons to join us is their ambition to positively impact the private sector development in Africa.
As part of the project, we are looking at supporting companies that have the potential to grow and scale while significantly impacting their markets. We focus on companies that are solving key social issues within the healthcare, education, finance and agricultural sectors. We believe that these sectors are crucial to international development in Africa, as well as representative of the markets where we believe startups are able to grow quickly and address significant demands. We are really excited by the startup ecosystem in Africa, but understand that it is at a very early stage, however the potential is huge, and so we are excited to be a part of it by helping entrepreneurs and investors find their fit.
We partnered with GrowthAfrica in March 2016, as we were excited by the vision of the management team, the portfolio of startups they work with, and the fantastic facilities they shared with us. The first projects went really well, and we both learnt a lot about what worked and where we could tweak the model going forward. We will continue to collaborate with GrowthAfrica as it scales its efforts across Africa, optimizing the impact we have as a partnership and trying to work with a diverse selection of companies and consultants.
We took several key lessons from our first engagement in Nairobi. We learnt that although a short amount of time, it was definitely possible to create meaningful impact within a two-week period. We learnt the importance of matching skill sets to project content – as a prior experience of delivering similar pieces of work in different contexts really helps the teams gain momentum right from the start. We also learnt the importance of pre engaging the consultants and the entrepreneurs, as a lot can actually be achieved before the two-week engagement begins. One of our biggest lessons was to try and avoid Nairobi’s traffic!
We’ve been staying in touch with the founders Ernest of Wayo and Janet of StudyInKenya since the project ended, offering our support and keeping track of the companies’ progress. We encourage our consultants to maintain a regular contact with the company founders, as the mentoring and knowledge sharing can continue long into the future.
In terms of our next steps, we will be returning to Kenya in June, and again in August and September. We’re then eager to test our model in another country in November this year, as part of our plan to roll our concept out across the continent, and to venture into exciting new countries and sectors.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to GrowthAfrica for the support and help they’ve given us over the last six months or so while we were starting up as an organization. They had the foresight to partner with us and we hope to keep the relationship going long into the future!
Article by: Tom Fairburn and Toby Hanington