The female-focused angel fund for African women in tech, founded by Odunayo Eweniyi and Eloho Omame.
Across several industries, we’ve seen a massive under-representation of women over time. It is no secret, even to those outside the tech world, that female entrepreneurs are grossly under-funded and under-represented. Globally, studies show that sub-Saharan Africa boasts the world’s highest rates of women entrepreneurs, at 27%. Diversity has proven to be critical in tech, as it allows companies to create improved and safer products that take everyone into consideration. The African tech space, in particular, has grown exponentially over the past ten years and we’ve seen countless innovations from this side of the ocean. Yet, women are still underrepresented in tech spaces.
In 2019, less than five percent of global venture capital went to female-led companies, and the trend is negative due to the global pandemic. According to Honoris United University, “when it comes to the role that African women play in the world of technology, few countries boast the female representation that Tunisia does. In 1991, the Tunisian Education Act made basic education compulsory for all pupils between the ages of 6 and 16, both male and female, and it’s a standard that has seen clear benefits some twenty-seven years later”. Today, women hold some of the most highly praised positions in the technology sector in Tunisia, and the country is setting a definite example for the rest of Africa.
According to the center for global development, “The participation of women in the Nigerian tech sector is low. In a survey of tech firms conducted by the ONE Campaign and the Center for Global Development in 2019, only about 30 percent were owned by women, mostly concentrated in e-commerce and enterprise solutions. Of women-owned firms, the median share of ownership is 20 percent. Tech firms do not employ many women either — 31 firms in our sample employ no women at all. The median value is two female employees per firm.”
Women in African tech are over-mentored and under-funded and FirstCheck Africa – the recently launched brainchild of Odunayo Eweniyi and Eloho Gihan-Mbelu – was founded to be the solution to that problem. FirstCheck Africa has massive plans to do great things. For starters, in 2021 they’re investing up to $25,000 each, ‘ridiculously early’, in up to six African women with bold entrepreneurial ideas. According to FirstCheck, “In the last five years, startup capital into Africa has risen 5x, and still, there are no women among the founders of the most highly-valued, category-defining startups led by African entrepreneurs”. Gihan-Mbelu and Eweniyi’s FirstCheck Africa is doing what only a few have attempted; they are committed to supporting women who are passionate and disciplined enough to create solutions.
Eloho (Omame) Gihan-Mbelu is the founding Managing Director & CEO of Endeavor Nigeria. With her career spanning over 15 years to date, she has worked with entrepreneurs, companies, and teams across multiple industries, at a range of life-cycle stages. Prior to working at Endeavor, as Managing Partner of “Amari”, an early-stage investment and consulting firm she founded, she visualized, designed, and launched ‘Lagos Innovates’, a portfolio of startup support programs sponsored and operated by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
Odunayo Eweniyi is the co-founder and COO of PiggyVest. She previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of the largest job sites in Africa with the largest database of pre-screened candidates. In 2019, she was named as one of Forbes Africa's 30 under 30 Technology and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators.
Homogeneousness doesn’t lead to creative solutions and this is why Eloho and Odunayo came together to create FirstCheck. Africa
Here’s a list of 6 things that you absolutely need to know about FirstCheck Africa below:
1) What is FirstCheck?
FirstCheck Africa is a female-led angel fund that invests “ridiculously early” in women in African tech. They are also building an investor community that creates opportunities for more women to invest in venture-backed startups.
2) Why was it created?
It was created to build a future where women have an equal hand in leading and shaping Africa’s future through technology and entrepreneurship. Their goal is to advance equity, capital, and leadership for a generation of women.
3) How does FirstCheck Africa affect the tech community now?
FirstCheck’s value propositions are:
· Writing first checks for audacious female founders of tech startups.
· Creating active pathways between early-stage investors and women.
· Helping more women in the “middle tier” write their own first checks.
4) What type of people can benefit from FirstCheck Africa?
FirstCheck Africa is enthusiastic about investing in women that have ideas that address important problems using technology, which could conceivably become impressive, innovative startups operating in significant pan-African markets.
5) What does the FirstCheck Africa investor community look like?
The FirstCheck Africa investor community will allow investors to put their dollars- small or large- behind the most promising venture-backed startups in Africa. While they support the community with learning and content about technology investing.
6) Can anyone join their investor community?
Yes! FirstCheck welcomes all mission-aligned investors and allies into the investment community. In line with their mission, they will prioritize women in the “middle tier” (millennials and mid-career) that can’t afford to commit typical VC fund minimums.