EWB Ventures is an arm of Engineering Without Borders established in 2013. The goal was to invest in "innovative startup businesses" across sub-Saharan Africa. EWB Ventures in Africa has so far made a couple of investments.
They have invested in at least 7 startups across Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia - to be specific. They recently opened an office in Uganda and are looking to continue investing up to $100,000.
If you are considering approaching them, we thought it would be wise if you took a look at their current portfolio.
Important to note is that they do provide a startup with early (seed) stage financing - which is usually equity. Though the package is rarely cash only. Part of it comes in form of talent and advisory support as Rithu Rajan said in an interview last year.
“Apart from financial investment, we also provide talent and advisory support,” she said.
Here is a close look at their portfolio and what exactly EWB Ventures brought to the table.
This is a Kenyan startup “digitizing the operations of dairy farmers” in rural Kenya. Though currently in Kenya, they harbor an ambition of expanding across East Africa.
“LishaBora is the only startup company in Kenya working directly with dairy traders in the informal market," the startup says.
They partner with these dairy farmers who in turn sell its products like dairy feeds and forage. These also use their business management app to help them keep track of their finances.
This, in turn, enables the dairy farmers to build a financial track record.
Founded in 2015, by Graham Benton, LishaBora says that “there are over two million smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya spending 1.5 billion USD annually on dairy feeds.”
They have a multi-pronged revenue model. It combines earnings from the mobile app, milk offtake as well as distribution of other products.
They participated in Hardware Africa by Village Capital in 2015 and Unreasonable East Africa's 2016 fellowship. This year, they were part of Disrupt Africa's Pitch Competition.
Rent to Own is a Zambian micro-asset financing company founded in 2009 by Mark Hemsworth. They “provide high-impact assets to micro-entrepreneurs" in rural Zambia.
To support Rent to Own EWB "reinforced the venture in its founding-stage by embedding Five Long-Term Fellows and eight Junior Fellows".
Rent to own later secured its first round of investment in 2012.
FarmDrive offers financial services to smallholder farmers in Kenya. The startup uses "mobile phones, alternative data, and machine learning" to achieve that.
EWB Ventures provided an undisclosed amount of seed financing to the startup.
“To spark FarmDrive’s growth, we secured seed funding in the founding-stage,” EWB wrote.
The startup was founded in 2014 by Rita Kimani and Peris Bosire. Last year, they raised follow-on funding from Safaricom's Spark Venture Fund.
Viamo, called VOTO Mobile, is an enterprise and ICT4D solution. It seeks to connect organizations and governments institution to hard to reach areas.
It was founded in 2012 in Accra Ghana, by Mark Boots, Louis Dorval, and Levi Goertz. They currently have operations in over 29 countries across the globe.
EWB Ventures provided early-stage investment in Viamo. This was used to carry out the early developments of the product.
“We partnered to play a foundational role in the early development of VOTO’s mobile engagement service,” EWB wrote.
Numida is a fintech working on “growing African small businesses" through offering credit. It was founded in 2015 by Mina Shahid, Ben Best, and Catherine Denis.
The startup currently has operations in Uganda with plans to expand beyond.
Numida’s mobile app lets small businesses keep track of their financials on a daily basis. This helps them build a financial track record. Which they can leverage to access credit services.
EWB provided convertible note equity as well as “EWB fellows” who offer talent support. The company also helped them secure grant funding. Thi was used to “execute a pilot with over 1000 entrepreneurs in 2016.”
Numida has participated in a couple of fellowships. This includes Unreasonable East, Seedstars, Village Capital as well as Blackbox Connect.