Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Digital Inclusion

Connecting Africa Podcast: S2 Ep. 7 – Gender-lens investing

Article Image
Startup funding in Africa is growing every year, but a stark gender gap remains, with only about 2% of capital going toward female-led startups.

In this Connecting Africa Podcast, we discuss why the continent needs more gender-smart investing, and are joined by Eloho Omame, the co-founder of FirstCheck Africa, an early-stage VC firm investing in tech startups founded or co-founded by women.

FirstCheck Africa is a female-led, female-focused angel fund and investor community that is working to get more equity and capital into the hands of Africa's most ambitious female tech founders. It was founded in 2021 by Omame and Odunayo Eweniyi – the co-founder and COO of successful West African fintech startup PiggyVest.

On the podcast, Omame shared her insights and experience as an advocate for gender inclusion in the venture capital space and talked about the positive impact of gender-smart investment strategies.

She explained that global data shows that startups with more diverse founder bases and female founders have an economic advantage – they tend to generate more revenue per dollar of invested capital and generate more return on investment over time.

She said that the amount of capital coming into the African startup ecosystem has seen extensive growth over the past few years, but it's still a drop in the ocean compared to global investments – with two-thirds of all venture capital going to North America while emerging markets get very little investment.

"On the one hand, it's been really exciting the last few years, and in particular the last two years, to see the exponential growth in capital coming [into Africa] and the interest that follows. On the other hand, the runway ahead of us is still quite significant because there is still so much to do," she said.

"One way to look at the underrepresentation challenge is to see that it creates an opportunity, because it means that first of all there are a bunch of challenges at are potentially left unsolved because the people who have a direct lived experiences with those challenges are not getting the funding that they necessarily should get – and so those idea mazes are under-explored. That's one thing that you find when you have this inequity," she told the podcast.

"You can't solve a challenge that is not top of mind, or you are not aware of," Omame added with regard to why there should be more women at the table.

FirstCheck's investment portfolio includes startups in Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya across sectors like financial services, education, healthcare, retail and commerce.

FirstCheck Africa Co-founder Eloho Omame.  (Source: LinkedIn)
FirstCheck Africa Co-founder Eloho Omame.
(Source: LinkedIn)

Omame explained what sparked the idea for FirstCheck while she was working as managing director of Endeavor Nigeria.

"I realized that every time I looked at my pipeline there were very few women in it ... and this was a challenge I needed to solve. I realized I had to go back to first principles. I couldn't solve this problem by transplanting entrepreneurs suddenly into my pipeline," she said.

She painted a picture of what the industry looks like when it comes to female-led funds and how we can grow the percentage of female fund managers in Africa.

That led to a discussion about the difference between impact investing and gender-lens investing and why FirstCheck is focused on positioning itself as a mainstream investment fund targeting diverse founder bases.

Growing African female angel investors

Omame explained how the FirstCheck Africa Angel Program works and how it supports women to become angel investors without excluding men.

"I don't believe that creating siloed female-only networks is the way to help more women become good angel investors," she said.

"What we wanted to do was create a really inclusive community, bring lots of people together but be hyper-focused on the diversity of our community. We are very proud of the fact that we are a majority female community, but not an exclusively female community – we think that is counterproductive to our goals," she added.

That led to a discussion about why we need more data on the venture capital space in Africa and specifically on female-led startups in Africa to quantify how they are performing relative to their male-led counterparts.

She also shared her views on what needs to shift to change the way capital is invested in Africa and how to get more visibility and access to funding for female-led companies on the continent.

Want to know more about African startups and new innovations on the continent? Check out our Innovation Hub here on Connecting Africa.

This season on the podcast we will be interviewing more startup founders and interesting personalities in Africa's tech ecosystem, so look out for more episodes coming soon.

If you want to catch up on all previous episodes, you can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts, or find other podcast platform options on our main page on Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor).

You can also find the podcast hosts online here:

Paula Gilbert (@paulajgilbert)

Tobi Lafinhan (@TobiLafinhan)

Matshepo Sehloho (@tsokamatshepo)

Related posts:

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


MTN tackles SA power woes with wind & solar hybrid project

MTN South Africa has launched an integrated wind and solar renewable energy generation project as part of its Net Zero efforts.


Interview: Qualcomm execs on mentorship for African startups

Qualcomm Technology VP for Engineering, Sudeepto Roy, and Elizabeth Migwalla, VP for Government Affairs, join Connecting Africa for a video interview about Qualcomm's Make in Africa Mentorship Program.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.


Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.


Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up