Series V VP Blog


Sexual harassment and the workplace

In the course of building a tech company, there are a number of things that founders focus their attention on; building the product, getting customers, recruiting employees, raising funds, etc. One thing that gets overlooked is building the right culture of the company. Company culture is the embodiment of the values and actions of the people that make up the company.

At Ventures Platform, we believe that getting your culture right isn’t by happenstance. Having the right culture means that founders and the company work continuously and deliberately on getting and maintaining the right company culture and environment.

Having a safe workplace where people can be themselves and thrive is important, not just for productivity but for the well-being of our team.

Recent happenings about sexual harassment and assault especially in the workplace have brought about an opportunity for introspection and reflection in the tech ecosystem.

Being leaders in our ecosystem, we thought it’s important to not only talk but to take action. 

Here is what we are doing at Ventures Platform;

  1. We called up our sexual harassment policy and reviewed it to ensure that it is explicit in stating our position on the matter. We have a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
  1. We went further to encourage anyone who had experienced any form of sexual harassment in our organization to speak up. We would be working even harder to encourage and ensure that anyone can speak up and whistleblow without fear of judgment or silencing. It’ll take a team effort to build the type of company we want. 
  1. We would also be updating our recruitment onboarding process to include a more detailed session on sexual harassment and sexual conduct.
  1. We would be having periodic reorientation sessions with the team on matters of sexual conduct.
  1. Going forward we also intend to include an assessment of the startup’s policies and philosophy on sexual harassment and discrimination as part of our criteria for investment decisions and because we invest early we will work with companies in our portfolio to develop relevant policies and cultures.

Though we think this is a good start, we are open to suggestions and recommendations. We’d like to encourage other organizations to look inwards and act if they are yet to. 

If you do not have a sexual harassment policy, create one. Even if you do have one,  review it to make sure it is clear and ensures a safe environment for your team and other stakeholders. We hope that as more organizations do better, sexual harassment victims would be encouraged to speak up more, perpetrators will know there are consequences for their actions and incidents will reduce. 

We aim to keep holding ourselves to a higher standard and with others, a higher standard for the tech ecosystem.

Series V VP Blog

Why We Remain Bullish About Africa

Hello there. Happy New Month! This month on Series V, we introduce our new investment thesis at Ventures Platform Fund in a blogpost written by Kola Aina. We love to get feedback and suggestions, you can send them here.

“We invest early in mission-driven founders that are building capital-efficient platforms that democratize prosperity, plug infrastructural gaps, connect underrepresented communities, create efficiencies, solve for non-consumption, and improve livelihoods.”

Ventures Platform Fund

Last week I was privileged to deliver the keynote at TechCabal’s “Bullish on Africa” conference. 

Besides the fact that it was such an ambitious event, I also got a chance to anchor a fireside chat with the insightful Amandla Ooko-Ombaka who authored the famous Mckinsey Report on “Tackling COVID-19 in Africa.”

The stark picture it paints is best summed up by the following excerpt: “For Africa’s economies, the implications of these challenges are far-reaching. A slowdown in overall economic growth is already being felt, and this is acute in hard-hit sectors such as tourism. Many businesses, particularly SMEs, are under significant cost pressure and face potential closure and bankruptcy. That is likely to lead to widespread job losses. At the same time, the pandemic will impact productivity across many sectors. Closures of schools and universities could create longer-term human capital issues for African economies—and could disproportionately affect girls, many of whom may not return to school. Not least, the crisis is likely to reduce household expenditure and consumption significantly.”

In addition, anecdotes from various tech hubs regarding our hostile regulatory landscape and other bottlenecks have caused us to question our investment thesis at Ventures Platform.

Why should we keep investing in Africa? 

Or more aptly, why did we recently announce investments in Tambua Health, FunnelJoy, and Brass?

When the coronavirus hit earlier this year, it upended the global economy. As a consequence, less than two months later, with only 61 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) revised the continent’s growth projections downwards to 2%. Amandla’s report goes into even more detail of the impact of this growth contraction and the likely bleak economic scenarios with Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa as case studies.

Now, before you blame it all on COVID-19, we should note that even before now, Africa has largely remained disconnected from global trade and opportunities, perhaps partly responsible for the slower rate of COVID-19 spread to the continent. Productivity remained low; infrastructure weak; systems mostly didn’t work and inefficiencies abounded with hundreds of millions of people unable to consume goods and services they otherwise needed. 

This state of affairs is largely due to corruption, poor public institutions, as well as decades of underinvestment in critical growth drivers like education, infrastructure, and health.

Unsettling as this is, we believe that this makes a stronger case for investing in innovative digital startups. They may not be completely recession-proof but tend to be nimble enough to navigate the new operating environment.  In fact, they may benefit from a boost in user adoption and lower customer education costs as people find new ways to live, work, communicate and various sectors take their services online. We deeply believe in the long term potential the continent holds especially as innovators and entrepreneurs leverage innovation to build solutions and plug the gaps created by these poor public institutions. Moreover, the way you get out of rot is by building.

This is why at Ventures Platform, we continue to invest early in mission-driven founders building capital-efficient platforms to democratize prosperity, plug infrastructural gaps, connect under-represented communities, create efficiencies, solve for non-consumption, and improve livelihoods. The companies we support have existing positive offline indicators, sustainable competitive advantage, and are led by accountable founders, and have the potential to generate $2million ARR in two years. 
And so we will continue to invest in companies like Reliance HMO and MDaaS. We fund and support companies creating products and services that deliver healthcare to the last mile efficiently and affordably. 

Millions of young people are unable to access services and goods that would improve their lives and finances, so we will fund companies like Trove and PiggyVest that are innovating around enabling wealth creation and targeting non-consumption.

Over the years, African governments have under-invested in infrastructure, a situation only worsened by endemic corruption. This is why we will fund companies like Send that aim to bridge infrastructural gaps and enable African companies to efficiently participate in global commerce.

African innovation is grossly under-represented globally, this is why we invest in companies like FunnelJoy. Likewise, communities within Africa remain mostly offline and disconnected from critical financial services, as such we will invest in platforms like CrowdForce and Kudi.

Africa urgently needs to democratize prosperity, and companies like Paystack are building infrastructure for this with platforms like ThriveAgric helping thousands of farmers become more prosperous.

We will seek out companies that are capital-efficient, have a clear path to monetization, led by founders with a unique insight into the market, are mission-driven, and have a deep-rooted desire to win.

So going forward we are excited to partner with entrepreneurs building early-stage companies in the following verticals;

  1. Financial Services and Insurance– While we have had advancements in digital banking solutions, lending, money transfer, we expect to see a lot more advancement around wealth management, digital currencies, remittance, B2B oriented solutions such as Digital SMB banking, and insurance products that help people better manage uncertainty.
  2. Life Science and Health Tech– We have a broken healthcare system, and as such, it has become increasingly difficult for everyday individuals to access and afford quality healthcare services. We are seeking companies transforming the way we diagnose health issues, access healthcare, pay for it, and experience it; companies providing tools that help healthcare providers become more efficient and cost-effective.
  3. Edtech and Digital talent accelerators  – Schools (Primary – Tertiary) need to be able to deliver classes, administer tests, gauge and track performance, engage the student community online. No single event should affect the delivery of education as severely as this has. As the revenue of companies dwindles globally, companies would seek new ways to reduce their cash burn whilst maintaining or improving outcomes. They would search for more cost-effective ways to deliver their products and services. This presents a huge opportunity for organizations providing skilled digital-native talent, as they can outsource this talent to companies across the world at a significantly lower cost.
  4. Enterprise SaaS – Businesses of all sizes are increasingly looking to better manage their business process, sales, and teams. Companies that were not leveraging software tools before now, will begin to do so. Consequently, they will optimize their process, reduce burn, and massively increase productivity and revenue.
  5. Digital Infrastructure Plays– Companies building digital rails and networks needed for the optimal operation of industries, enterprises, and more broadly speaking societies. 
  6. AgriTech and Food security– Africa needs to move towards food security and sustainability. We need to leverage data and technology to massively increase production, reduce waste, and improve the whole agricultural value chain.

    If you are a mission-driven founder, building a capital-efficient business that democratizes prosperity, plugs infrastructural gaps, connects underrepresented communities, creates efficiencies, solves for non-consumption, and improves livelihoods, we would love to talk to you.

That’s all folks! Now, let’s dive into the other parts of Series V.

Portfolio Chatter

Guess what? Printivo has launched the first edition of their magazine, ‘Thrive.’ It encapsulates quality content with a focus on business growth and brand building. ⁣ Click here to get a soft copy.

It is important that you stay safe even as businesses re-open. That is why Printivo is delivering personal protective wears across Nigeria with different customization options. Click here to get your swag on.

Join the CEO and Co-founder of Paystack, Shola Akinlade, in a fireside chat with OfferZen tomorrow Tuesday 2nd June 2020 at 5:30 PM WAT. Sign up for free here.

During this trying time, MDaaS Global has intensified its effort to flatten the curve. They embarked on a week-long screening of patients and collecting #COVID19 samples at the Ogun State Walk-In & Drive-Through Testing Centre! Read more about their effort here.

Over the past couple of months, Trove users have traded more than One Billion Naira on the platform. Way to go Trove! Read more here.

Saltbox is currently hiring a Community Operations Manager. Click here to see the requirements.

Inside VP

Ventures Park is back! Read all about the measures they have taken to ensure the safety of staff and co-workers alike here.

Join Kola Aina and industry captains from across Africa as they discuss skills African graduates need for a post-COVID-19 world. Date: Wednesday, 3rd of June 2020 Time: 2:00 PM WAT Click here to register.

Last month, we hosted Jason Njoku at a webinar where he talked about swinging for the fences: taking bold bets and doubling down on growth. Find the webinar recording here.

Innovators from the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge received their MTN Hyflexnet Modems with 6 months unlimited data . Read more here.

What Are We Reading?

Everything on the internet.

Are you building a market-creating innovation? We would like to know more. Apply here.

Stay safe and see you next month,