Investing in ventures

Investing in Ventures

We partner with innovative startup businesses to push the boundaries of what is possible in sub-Saharan Africa. We support entrepreneurs from seed to global scale; from idea to widespread impact. The initiatives begin locally, but they have the capacity to eradicate poverty and create far-reaching change.

The EWB ventures program makes customized, long-term investments of up to $100,000 USD in first-of-kind scalable social enterprises with the potential to positively impact millions of people living in poverty.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of early-stage entrepreneurship on the planet; over 250 million of the continent’s citizens work in 17.7 million small and growing businesses.

Many sub-Saharan economies are on the verge of a dramatic transformation, with small and growing businesses exploring increasingly progressive means to kick-start significant growth across multiple sectors: including smallholder agriculture, water and sanitation services, communications technology, and more.

These businesses can blossom to serve millions. Their innovations can lift the collective prospects of large communities. Ventures can eliminate hunger; they can increase health education, housing infrastructure, employment opportunities, community safety, and access to basic financing. They simply need the right support.

Through a unique approach to investment, we partner with forward-thinking businesses and community organizations. By investing capital, support and expertise, we improve the way these innovative small and growing businesses operate to help eradicate poverty and inequity.

“We invest capital, talent and mentorship to ignite founding-stage social enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Impact investing involves more than injecting capital and hoping for the best. It is a robust methodology designed to bolster innovative businesses and accelerate their potential influence.

By investing time, capital and personal expertise, we can build capacity, ensure sustainability and bring inventive ideas to fruition for the benefit of millions at global scale. We call this comprehensive approach Impact Investing.

Since the establishment of EWB ventures, our impact investments have contributed to influencing the lives of over 22 million people at both an individual and systemic level.

The approach is designed to solve deeply-rooted systemic barriers that prevent communities from growth and prosperity.

The results usher in new industries and improved ways of doing things. When these innovations successfully scale, our impact investments create positive change for individuals and communities.

We invest talent.

Many social entrepreneurs report ‘inability to access talent’ as having a high or critical impact on growth. We recruit and embed EWB Fellows from a deeply talented professional network, to offer diverse capability and comprehensive support.

Sustainability is key. Immediate access to expertise and talent is essential throughout the early stages of a social venture. We focus on knowledge exchange and building partnerships: many of our Fellows choose to remain in positions with ventures long after their initial placement.

We invest expertise.

We provide burgeoning enterprises with broad insight into:

  • Business development.
  • Financial modelling.
  • Talent acquisition.
  • Investor-preparation.
  • Leadership training and mentoring.

We provide investment for the future.

Funding a venture to the point of scale is futile without support for the next steps toward scalability and greater success. To ensure ongoing growth, we catalyze future investment for initiatives that are ready to graduate beyond the nurture stage.


View our past and current ventures

The impact investing methodology is proving fruitful for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

EWB’s early-stage capital has so far been leveraged 6.5 times.

Like the entrepreneurs we support, the EWB approach to investing in ventures is progressive.

  1. We nurture new sectors.
    We foster widespread growth through a portfolio approach, amplifying the impact of individual ventures by connecting them with other complementary businesses charting new territory. The collaborative method creates a supportive environment for learning, sector innovation, and scalable impact. Additionally, by documenting the successes and challenges these business communities face, we collect shared insight and accumulative evidence to advocate for impactful policy change.

    Learn more about our work in advocating for change

  2. We partner early to support innovators through difficult developmental situations.
    Weak pipelines represent major difficulties for scalable social-purpose ventures in Africa – they are a hurdle for investors and create challenges for innovative businesses looking for support. Our investment approach solves this issue by backing ventures at ground zero, providing diverse expertise and resources when support is hardest to obtain.
  3. We bring others in to secure comprehensive support.
    The impact investment approach de-risks the earliest stage of the investment pipeline. As a result, additional investment is easier to attract, building the chorus of support innovative businesses require to scale and succeed.
  4. We embed expertise.
    At the founding-stage of progressive businesses, talent is often scarce and can be even more vital than capital. We recognize the importance of experience and expertise. Through our Fellowships programs, we provide African innovators with access to people with the critical skills required to grow businesses.

    Learn more about the Fellowships programs

  5. We draw on deep experience in Africa.
    Our Africa-based investment committee leverages their 34 years of collective experience in investing, corporate finance, and development. Beyond the African investment team, our 16 years of institutional experience and deep networks play a valuable role in recognizing potential innovators and helping grow their ventures.

    Meet the investment committee

As founding investors and partners in many ventures, we are well-placed to participate in the long-term value we’ve helped create: bolstering our sustainability and the potential to foster further small and growing business initiatives.

All returns generated through our investments go towards new investments and support the ongoing sustainable growth of additional portfolio partners.

As a result, the benefits of ventures resonate well beyond the support for initial entrepreneurs themselves.

Innovative product and service development.

Forward-thinking businesses operating in the challenging circumstances of sub-Saharan Africa generate new methods of service delivery and create exciting products. They lead – and develop entirely new – industries.

Motivated competition.

Successful initiatives can spur established organizations to reconsider their own operations, and work more consistently towards honing their products and improving services.

Success through failure.

We embrace failure as an essential learning process. It’s a chance to learn and refine. Ventures that fail to successfully scale can inspire other entrepreneurs to identify shortcomings or potential improvements and capitalize on the opportunities they identify.

Establishing blueprints.

Proven pioneers create clear pathways to success for future innovators in the small and growing business sector. This ensures the impact of our investments into ventures reverberates long after the success of any single funded entrepreneur.

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