A Kinyungu White Paper

What's the Deal with Early-Stage Venture Deals in Africa?

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But the question is

How do these deals actually work?

If we could filter out the echo chamber talk and move beyond the “best practice” from the conference stage, what is true about early-stage venture deals in Africa? What are the critical nuances no one is talking about? What’s working? Missing? Confusing? What aspects of VC thinking is helpful / harmful? What truths would the players share in confidence?  We set out to answer these questions.


Collectively, we have personally been involved in more than 50+ deals in Africa and as such, we have begun to form our own point of view. However, we wanted to learn from the collective wisdom based on a much broader set of voices.  We sought out the people with real, deep experience — and the battle scars and medals to prove it. The first VC firms on the continent began 15-20 years ago – what can we learn from the last chapter? This report is intended be informative for: entrepreneurs, investors, LPs, ecosystem builders, angel investors, direct finance institutions, consultants, and policymakers who desire to see more, aligned, thoughtful capital flow into the start-up ecosystems across the African continent.



We focused gaining qualitative insight through in-depth interviews with 100+ entrepreneurs, investors, and LPs. We placed a special emphasis on early-stage deals executed prior to 2016 so that enough time could elapse to glean initial learnings. We consulted with academic research experts to refine our approach and interview guide. While keeping many of the questions open-ended, we focused specifically on the unique dynamics, barriers, trickiness, and enablers of early-stage investing in the African context.

From the 900+ pages of interview notes and transcripts, we coded distinct themes that consistently emerged in the interviews. Subsequently, those themes began to paint a few cohesive narratives about early-stage venture deals. Through an additional round of thought leader interviews, we pressure-tested and refined these themes, synthesized the findings, and compiled everything into the PDF research report.



Interviews with Entrepreneurs, Investors, and LPs across the African ecosystem


Pages of interview notes & transcripts


Themes coded

The more we can learn from the forerunners who’ve gone before us, the wiser and more strategic we can become for our next season of investing. As we all become better informed about the realities of these deals, we hope to see more alignment among LPs, investors, and entrepreneurs. We’ll see more thoughtful, aligned capital flowing into the right companies, stronger entrepreneurial ecosystems, positive transformative narratives about the continent, and intergenerational wealth creation in local communities.



Our team consists of a dynamic, diverse group of ecosystem thinkers and practitioners.

Tayo Akinyemi

Lead researcher & writer

Africa Tech Thought Leader with experience with World Bank, AfriLabs Foundation, International Trade Centre, and ALA

Tony Chen


Serial entrepreneur with multiple exits, 3 years living in Kenya, angel investor of 15 companies in Kenya.

Osarumen Osamuyi

Co-publisher and editor

Founder, The Subtext. Industry analyst and researcher covering tech ecosystems in frontier markets. Ex-Expansion at Africa's Talking, Ex-Head of Investments, Ventures Platform Fund

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