EWB Ventures, the impact investing arm of the Canadian not for profit Engineers Without Borders, is growing its presence in Kampala.
This was confirmed by Kawanguzi Japheth, the founder of The Innovation Village, where EWB Ventures set up its new Uganda office. “They’ve already set up actually,” Japheth told me.
Founded in 2013, the seed-stage impact investing vehicle has had a team on the ground for years but has now moved into the co-sharing wing of the Innovation Village.
This, according to Japheth, will ensure they keep in constant contact with the very entrepreneurs they are looking to invest in.
“They’ll be seated right in the co-sharing space where we have other entrepreneurs. [These are] the entrepreneurs they (EWB Ventures) are really looking to invest in” – Japheth.
Being seed-stage means that EWB Ventures comes in very early in a startup’s life. Something Japheth believes is an important addition to Kampala’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“I think [they] are unique from other investors that have come across [the innovation village],” he pointed out. Adding that it is “because they look at coming in really really really early.”
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When I interviewed Rithu Rajan from EWB Ventures last year, she told me that the company has been investing between $10,000 to $100,000 in early-stage ventures across Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and other sub-Saharan countries.
According to Japheth, they are doing the same for the Ugandan market. “So they want to come in early before Growth stage investors are speaking of coming in,” he said. Adding that “they [will] invest up to $100,000” and help position the company to successfully raise later rounds of capital. t. EWB Ventures invests in startups that have highly scalable and innovative approaches to serving the bottom of the pyramid. They currently only invest in Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana.
During the interview with Rithu, who has since left the fund, she also informed me that they had so far made 9 investments in sub-Saharan Africa including Uganda’s Numida, Ghana’s Bloom Impact, and Kenya’s M-Shule and Farm Drive.
Asked if they have identified any startups to invest in at The Innovation Village, Japheth said no. Pointing out that what attracted them was the “philosophy”.
“I think it is the philosophy that brings them rather than if they have some startups they have spotted,” said Japheth. Adding that they both have a “common mindset of coming in early to support entrepreneurs who have scalable ventures.”
Currently, EWB Canada has a large presence in Uganda and the Ventures team has recently added two people in Uganda, Brittney Dudar and Beth Foster. You can contact EWB Ventures at email@example.com.
This article has been updated to reflect certain changes that have taken place at EWB. Additionally, it was reported that EWB is just setting up in Uganda. However, the team clarified that they have always had operations in the country.