Capria Ventures, like many African VC firms, aims to advance enterprise-led economic development and foster technological innovation in the region, while also making returns on investment.
The way it strives to do all this, however, is slightly different. Instead of making direct investments in entrepreneurs, Capria Ventures instead mostly invests in emerging market fund managers, collaborating to deliver superior returns and scaled impact. It does also do warehouse investments as well.
“Over the past decade, we have seen first-hand increasing demand for early-stage and early-growth capital from entrepreneurs developing high growth businesses in emerging and frontier markets,” Eunice Wambui, senior investment analyst at Capria Ventures, told Disrupt Africa.
“Capria was born from the belief that experienced local, on-the-ground fund managers are the best way to unlock opportunities. Our operations to this day remain centered around engagement with local fund managers who know the dynamics of local markets and needs of local entrepreneurs better than anyone.”
The firm helps the managers in the Capria Network collaborate with one another, share best practices, and find regional and global opportunities for their portfolio companies.
“Our unique model of manager engagement coupled with both fund and direct investing has enabled us to attract some of the best emerging managers from around the globe to join our collaborative network,” Wambui said.
Capria is backed by institutional investors, family offices, foundations and HNIs. Its anchor investors include Vulcan, which is the family office of the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft; Gates Ventures; IFC; Omidyar Network; Ford Foundation; and Sorenson Impact Foundation. With their assistance, it has built a global network of more than 20 fund managers across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, with combined assets under management of over US$400 million.
“Some managers in our network are already investing from their second or third fund, and some are still establishing their first fund. Eight out of the 20 funds are in Africa – spread across West, Southern and pan -African. We are also actively screening additional funds. Just in Africa, we have screened over 300 funds for the current investment cycle and intend to onboard one or two new funds into the network this year,” said Wambui.
Wambui herself is responsible for sourcing and screening fund managers across Africa and the Middle East, and also providing portfolio support to Capria’s current network of fund managers.
“I am passionate about business growth and impact investing as I believe that this is the surest path to Africa’s prosperity,” she said.
Wambui stepped into the investing world after starting her career in management consulting, where she was involved in helping businesses better understand their markets, position themselves to win in their sectors, and accelerate their growth and value creation.
“From this it became ultra clear to me that there are two things paramount for businesses to grow and scale – capital and business expertise. I therefore decided to join Capria, to channel global and local capital coupled with global and local expertise, to African businesses through returns driven and impact focused venture capital and private equity firms,” she said.
Capria’s sweet spot, Wambui said, is early-stage tech and tech-enabled businesses leveraging innovation to solve big and pressing needs in their local markets.
“We are sector agnostic as we aim to partner with and invest in fund managers with a deep understanding of the market opportunities where they reside and invest. Most of our managers are investing primarily in sectors such as healthcare, education, agriculture, clean-tech, and logistics,” she said.
“In Africa, we are primarily focused on Sub-Saharan Africa at the moment while looking opportunistically at strong fund managers who may provide exposure to North Africa.”
Aside from cash, Capria offers global expertise to its portfolio fund managers, both from its leadership team and its global network of fund managers.
“We’ve also developed over 100 proprietary tools, templates and connections that fund managers use as they build their investment firms,” said Wambui.