How FirstCheck Africa is Igniting a Future of Genderless Opportunities and Boundless Innovation

How FirstCheck Africa is Igniting a Future of Genderless Opportunities and Boundless Innovation

It’s become well-known the struggles that entrepreneurs face, especially in initial phases of bootstrapping and trying to bring a service or product to the market. For so many, securing capital from investors is the grace that either keeps them afloat, or failing to do so, flatlines the business and all of its hope, 

In this stark reality women entrepreneurs yet face a persistent funding divide, and FirstCheck Africa is emerging as a formidable force to challenge the status quo. 

According to a 2019 report, a mere 2.8% of all rounds invested across the entire U.S. startup ecosystem went to all-female founding teams. In Africa, the struggle is mirrored, with only 5.3% of the over $500 million in venture capital funding received by female startups. 

FirstCheck Africa, founded in January 2021 by the female techpreneur duo of Eloho Omame,  Partner at TLcom Capital, and  Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-founder/COO of PiggyVest, is on a mission to overturn these statistics and empower African women entrepreneurs. 

Simply put, it’s not just a fund, but a groundbreaking endeavor set to reshape the landscape of venture capital in Africa, unlocking doors for female-led startups and paving the way for a more inclusive tech ecosystem.

Early Vision and Evolution

Omame and Eweniyi initiated FirstCheck Africa as an angel fund with a mission to address the financial challenges faced by female tech entrepreneurs across the African continent. What began as a commitment to invest up to $25,000 each in six female-led companies has evolved into a strategic institutional fund. The founders envisioned creating opportunities for ambitious African women to raise early-stage venture capital and become pivotal figures in the technology and entrepreneurship landscape.

In a groundbreaking move, TLcom Capital, a prominent Africa-focused venture capital firm, recently committed $2 million to FirstCheck Africa, enabling the fund to expand its support for female-led startups. This injection of capital, combined with FirstCheck Africa’s $10 million debut fund, brings the total investment pool to $12 million.

Mission and Strategy

FirstCheck Africa remains steadfast in its commitment to invest in high-growth, technology-driven startups with at least one female founder or co-founder. The fund operates as a sector-agnostic entity, focusing on companies solving significant problems in large markets. Their strategy includes making high-conviction first checks of up to $250,000 in early-stage rounds for female-led startups.

Omame and Eweniyi emphasize the importance of category-leadership potential and actively leverage FirstCheck Africa’s networks and platform to support founders, positioning them as the next generation of entrepreneurial role models in Africa. The fund’s ambition is to play a crucial role in diversifying leadership within Africa’s tech landscape.

Journey and Impact

Over the past months, FirstCheck Africa has made substantial strides, investing in various female-led startups across numerous countries. Their portfolio companies have gained acceptance into global accelerators, including Y Combinator, showcasing the fund’s ability to open doors and facilitate faster fundraising on founder-friendly terms.

The statistics speak volumes about FirstCheck Africa’s impact on the African tech ecosystem. In 2019, only five female-led startups received $1 million or more in early-stage funding. By 2021, that number surged to 33, and within the first few months of 2022, 19 female-led startups, including six in the latest month, have secured funding. FirstCheck Africa has played a role in three of these recent investments.

Addressing Gender Disparities

The fund’s mission aligns with the broader challenge of addressing gender disparities in the tech industry. Globally, women account for only 28.8% of the tech workforce as of 2020, and Africa reflects a similar trend with women representing only 30% of professionals in the tech industry.

FirstCheck Africa aims to tackle the identified problems causing the funding disparity, including the low number of female-led businesses accessing early-stage funding, the challenges in transitioning between funding stages, and the limited presence of female decision-makers in venture capital firms. The fund actively seeks to bridge these gaps by providing financial support, mentorship, and a platform for female entrepreneurs.

Empowering Tomorrow: The FirstCheck Impact

The existence of FirstCheck Africa marks a significant step towards creating a level playing field for African women in tech. By investing “ridiculously early” in audacious female founders and actively supporting them, the fund not only is changing lives but also reshaping the narrative of women’s participation and leadership in Africa’s technology revolution. It’s emerging as a fund that both addresses the gender funding gap and is reshaping the very foundations of opportunity. 

FirstCheck Africa is through its visionary founders, propelling the dreams of ambitious female founders, and sowing the seeds for a future where women-led startups flourish. It’s posing as a beacon, illuminating the path towards a more equitable and diverse tech ecosystem in Africa. 

With every check written, a narrative is rewritten, and a new chapter unfolds — one where African women entrepreneurs not only survive but thrive, leaving an indelible mark on the continent’s technological evolution. FirstCheck Africa is not just an investment; it’s a catalyst for a future where opportunities know no gender, and innovation knows no bounds.

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