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Investments for Impact

Investments for Impact

By Villgro Africa

Welcome to the Villgro Africa Investments for Impact Podcast where we share and have in-depth discussions on impact investing, supporting innovative social enterprises, and our work within the African innovation ecosystem. We feature innovators, entrepreneurs, and industry experts to guide you in your journey of social entrepreneurship.
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Team Dynamics in Fundraising

Investments for ImpactNov 10, 2020

USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) Program

USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) Program

The final episode of Season 3 is a special bonus episode focused on USAID's DIV program, which provides grant funding for breakthrough solutions to the world's toughest development challenges. We welcome Liz Chacko, who walks us through the details of the program, advice for entrepreneurs who are applying, and some success stories of past awardees!

One correction: When Liz says that Zola raised $200,000, she actually meant $2 million!

Jul 21, 202343:13
What Are Investors Looking For?
Jul 13, 202354:59
Stages of Fundraising: Venture Capital

Stages of Fundraising: Venture Capital

Investments for Impact is a Villgro Africa podcast. Season 3 is brought to you by Villgro Africa and Jaza Rift Ventures.

For our fifth episode, focused on venture capital, we have two guests: Arnold Maina from DOB Equity and Jason Musyoka from From Here Ventures. Listen in on our conversation to learn more about the purposes of venture capital, the types of business that fit (and don’t fit) with this type of investment, and some advice on how best to pursue VC funding.  

Jul 06, 202340:46
Stages of Fundraising: Angel Investing

Stages of Fundraising: Angel Investing

Investments for Impact is a Villgro Africa podcast. Season 3 is brought to you by Villgro Africa and Jaza Rift Ventures.

Our fourth episode is all about angel investing and our guest is Stephen Gugu, one of the most prominent voices in the angel investing space on the continent. Along with founding Viktoria Ventures, he is also an advisor to the African Business Angel Network. We hope you enjoy our conversation and benefit from his wealth of knowledge! 

Find the training Stephen mentions (10 Things Angel Investors Get Wrong in Year 1) here:

Jun 30, 202345:30
Stages of Fundraising: Grant Funding

Stages of Fundraising: Grant Funding

Investments for Impact is a Villgro Africa podcast. Season 3 is brought to you by Villgro Africa and Jaza Rift Ventures.

For our third episode, we welcome Elizabeth Laitete from Africa Grant Advisors, the perfect guest since we are discussing the grant funding stage of fundraising. We discuss the advantages of grants, some misconceptions, as well as pitfalls to avoid when applying for grant funding.

Jun 23, 202335:30
Stages of Fundraising: Family & Friends

Stages of Fundraising: Family & Friends

Investments for Impact is a Villgro Africa podcast. Season 3 is brought to you by Villgro Africa and Jaza Rift Ventures.

For our second episode of the season, we had the chance to host Joram Mwinamo of SNDBX and tapped into his vast experience in the African startup and innovation ecosystem. We discussed whether or not African startups utilise family and friends fundraising and why we hear less about it in the African context than in the US and Europe. We also talk through practical strategies for seeking out this type of funding and managing the unique risks that it entails.

Jun 16, 202338:55
The Next Investment Frontier: An Overview of Africa's Fundraising Landscape

The Next Investment Frontier: An Overview of Africa's Fundraising Landscape

We are excited to invite you back for our third season, in which we will focus on the topic of fundraising, including the overall fundraising landscape in Africa, as well as a deep dive into each stage that a young company raising capital goes through (from family and friends all the way to venture capital). 

In this first episode, we are setting the scene for you. Our host, Moses Waweru, was joined by Villgro Africa CEO, Wilfred Njagi, and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Jaza Rift Ventures, Sewu-Steve Tawia. They discuss what things look like right now for startups and emerging businesses attempting to raise the capital they need for growth and eventually and scaling. We ask what the role of incubators like Villgro Africa and investors like Jaza Rift Ventures are and explore how these two types of organisations can collaborate. We also learn more about some of the challenges faced by African entrepreneurs and how these can be addressed.

We hope you’ll enjoy our discussion! Karibu! 

Jun 09, 202338:34
Investing in Women-Led Businesses: The Investor Perspective

Investing in Women-Led Businesses: The Investor Perspective

In this episode, we welcome Dr. Beatrice Murage, a medical doctor, innovator and health equity leader, as well as a Villgro Africa board member, to discuss the investor perspective of women-led innovations. We speak about the male dominated nature of the investment field and the goal of having more gender balance – of both investors and investees.

You can learn more about Villgro Africa at

Aug 02, 202237:42
Increasing the Pipeline of Female Innovators

Increasing the Pipeline of Female Innovators

For this episode, we are joined by Sylvia Mukasa, an award-winning entrepreneur and tech consultant who has dedicated her career to increasing equity in science and technology. She and Franciscah Nzanga discuss the many challenges facing young girls who are interested in subjects within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the ways we can work toward overcoming these challenges. For more information on some of the organizations and initiatives referenced in this episode, see below:

For more information about Villgro Africa, please visit our website at

Jul 21, 202246:04
Supporting Female Founders

Supporting Female Founders

For our third episode of Investments for Impact, Franciscah Nzanga hosts Ndeye Thiaw and Caroline Muchiri, two leaders in the African innovation space to discuss the things female founders need to succeed and how others can support them. Ndeye is a managing partner at Brightmore Capital and an expert in impact investing. Caroline is an intellectual property expert, practitioner and researcher currently working at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society at the University of Ottawa. As women who have succeeded in male-dominated environments, our guests had many helpful perspectives on what women should expect as well as ideas on how things can be improved in the future.

Jul 15, 202256:49
Female Founders: What It's Like to Lead a Startup as a Woman

Female Founders: What It's Like to Lead a Startup as a Woman

On this episode of Investments for Impact, Franciscah Nzanga hosts Sylvia Nyaga and Judith Oketch, who are both founders of health startups. Sylvia is the founder and CEO of Syna Consultancy, which provides access to clean water, basic toilets, and good hygienic practices, especially for those with disabilities, which is shown to lead to better health and socio-economic development. Judith Oketch is the founder and CEO of Ambulex Solutions, which is increasing the accessibility and effectiveness of emergency health services.

In this episode, the panelists and host discuss the ups and downs of being a female entrepreneur. If you or anyone you know has experienced  exploitation similiar to what is described in this conversation, we encourage you to reach out to people you trust for support and encouragement. We all need to work together to eliminate such practices!

Subscribe, rate and review our podcast to make sure as many people are reached as possible.

Jul 07, 202247:13
Villgro Africa’s Journey Toward Gender Balance
Jun 30, 202229:01
Navigating Regulatory Process for Medical Devices Part II

Navigating Regulatory Process for Medical Devices Part II

Thank you for listening to Villgro Africa. Today, we hosted Wambui Gachiengo, an innovation leader in the medical device industry with experience in both North America and East Africa and Dr. Robert Karanja, a renowned medical researcher with over 15 years of experience and the Chief Innovations Officer & Co-founder of Villgro Africa. The show was hosted by Wilfred Njagi, CEO & Co-founder Villgro Africa and Dr. Arun Venkatesan, CEO & Co-founder Villgro USA. This podcast is produced by Villgro Africa.

What are some of the steps you need to go through from prototyping a medical device innovation to commercialization?


- Always start with the user and keep the end user front and central in the entire process. 

- Observe and have lots of conversations with people who would be using the device. Once you understand that space then you need to do a lot of homework on the clinical and technology space as well as understanding competitive devices. 

- Once you do the development you have to go through the regulatory process and you have to do a lot of testing. That includes user feedback so that you iterate until you get to a device that the market wants and that can be approved from a regulatory stand point and that can also be commercially successful.

Can these steps can be packaged in a replicable & transferrable manner compared to what you have seen in the West and what you have seen in East Africa? 

Wambui: Absolutely. I know there are people who say things like invention and innovation are things that cannot be taught but I believe that if you have these tools and you understand them well you can implement them in any environment. If you have teams of people who really understand their subject matter expertise you can use these tools and teach them and guide people to keep the end users in mind and continue the innovation process. It may be the case that we may have to tweak some of the process and structures a bit to fit the environment we may need to work on building enabling environment like having access to rapid prototyping and the end ISO Certified manufacturing facilities but I believe we are already moving and will be able to adjust as we move forward.

What are the areas where Villgro Africa adds most value?


- The value we add is funding it is usually very small funding but it helps innovators to get a stamps of approval, some recognition and validation to potential funders or investors that typically would want to sit on the fence until they see that the venture is more of a sure thing.

- Being able to provide a learning by doing type of mechanism that allows an innovator or young startup to actually go through those five steps unlike learning in theory, working with the benefit of the experience within the Villgro Africa team. This helps de-risk the commercialization process in a very significant way.

- We are also an honest broker. Regulators may not want to have a direct line of communication to the people they are regulating but it is possible for them to have discussions with enablers like us. That way we are able to have the feedback loop between the regulators and those who are being regulated. This is important especially for us in the ecosystem because our regulators are also learning how to regulate home grown innovations.

Podcast theme music by Learn how to start a podcast here.

May 24, 202127:48
Navigating the FDA regulatory process : Application Process

Navigating the FDA regulatory process : Application Process

This is the first episode of a three-part series on Medical Device Regulation: Navigating the FDA/CE mark regulatory process. 

In this episode, we host Sona Shah, Founder & CEO of Neopenda. Neopenda is a medical device company focused on designing and implementing use base technologies for emerging markets. Their remote vital signs monitor reduces the burden of clinicians and helps them monitor more patients efficiently while reducing the risks of infection.

Sona Shah gives us insights into how they navigated the regulatory process for their medical devices in the USA and East Africa, the challenges they faced, and how MedTech devices can go about getting regulatory approvals for their products. 

"By no means should you compromise safety qualities because you are developing products for a different market...investing the time and money into developing a robust process early on is something that is required for all medical device companies." ~ Sona Shah

Should companies prioritize Regulatory Approvals and at what stage?

- Quality is essential - setting up a robust quality management system early on will give you an understanding of how to approach document controls and revision history. Investing in it early on and understanding the standards you will have to adhere to from a regulatory perspective is also important.

- Getting feedback from your users during your iterations and understanding how to document that is key during the early stage. You may want to go through the regulatory approvals once you have a more defined product.

How can companies minimize expenses while maximizing regulatory outcomes?

- Consultants - Regulatory consultants are essential because they understand the nuances of the documentation of the regulatory process. It is important to establish the QMS with them and once you have that set up you follow the laid down process. As you are starting to finalize your product I would recommend bringing on a consultant as it will save you the time and money you may have o spend redoing your product.

-Even if you are applying for local regulation I would recommend you understand the FDA/CE Mark process well because it can be a lot of work to go from local registration to stringent authorities like FDA/CE Mark. Design for submission to FDA/CE Mark during your process as this is typically sufficient for local registration.

Jan 18, 202122:31
Team Dynamics in Fundraising

Team Dynamics in Fundraising

This is the second episode of a three-part series on Fundraising: Demystifying the local vs expat founder funding gap. In the previous episode we learnt that one of the proof points investors are looking for is a strong team armed with passion and diverse skill sets.

In this episode we host James Copple, Founder of Strategic Applications International (SAI) also known as Servant Forge and Chrispinus Onyancha, founder of a Ugandan-based startup called clinicPesa - on the role of team dynamics in fundraising.

Nov 10, 202022:52
Fundraising: Demystifying the Founder vs Expat Funding Gap

Fundraising: Demystifying the Founder vs Expat Funding Gap

Part I - Investment Readiness

Over the past few months, there has been increased discussion around the funding gap between expat and locally founded companies. To explore this further, this is the first episode of a three-part series on fundraising with a specific focus on demystifying this gap.

In this episode, we talk about what makes expat founders more investment ready and how local founders can attract more funding with Joshua Kibera, a local founder of The Pathology Network, and Emilian Popa an expat founder of Ilara Health

Key Takeaways

- Connections and relationships are important in fundraising. Companies with strong relationships with funders have a higher chance of raising more funds compared to companies with fewer connections. 

- Relationships are built from visibility and access to information. Most foreign founders have a background in business schools like Harvard and MIT where information is accessible and relationships are easier to make compared to a founder sitting in Mombasa trying to raise funding from the same pool of funders.

-  Income disparity - Expat founders have the advantage of getting the very early stage seed money (bootstrap capital) from friends and family who are more culturally inclined to invest in ideas. They are also able to attend more competitions and conferences across the world to meet investors.

- Information is however becoming more accessible with more virtual competitions and pitches taking place. Investors have also become more accessible compared to the past when one had to travel to pitch or meet them.

- Socio-cultural factors - culture is also a major factor, ex-pat founders are more articulate in communicating their Big Hairy Audacious Goal while local founders tend to downplay their achievements.

What Investors look for in an Innovator

- The team - the quality of people, their motivation, and their skillset.

- The market dynamics - the size of the market, the need, potential expansion, and whether the product can be replaced.

- Communication - Are they able to communicate their Big Hairy Audacious Goal well?

Thank you for joining us today for this episode on bridging the funding gap between local and expat founded companies. In the next episode, we will discuss the role of team dynamics in fundraising.

We invite your suggestions or comments. Feel free to go to our website at and share your thoughts or offer suggestions for future podcasts.  This podcast is produced by Villgro Kenya and Rob Beyer and Wilfred Njagi were your hosts. See you in the next episode.

Sep 15, 202022:22
Mentoring Medical Device Innovations

Mentoring Medical Device Innovations

Key Takeaways:

Med-tech innovations are picking up the pace in East Africa in a bid to provide homegrown solutions to healthcare challenges. Being a nascent field there are fewer mentors who have gone before them within the ecosystem to help them scale their innovations. There is a need for more mentors to help guide these innovators to not only develop impactful innovations but also thrive as enterprises.

Mentorship helps innovators (Mentee):

• Gain access to funding – mentors help innovators in fundraising and putting together compelling proposals for their projects so that they are able to compete on a global front.

• Fill the skillset gap – Enterprises gain access to mentors who have years of expertise that complement their team and help them move forward fast with fewer mistakes.

• Access to networks – Mentors can help unlock partnerships with key people who can benefit the enterprise.

Mentees need to 

• Really understand their device, process, service of what they are developing, do extensive research on the market to see if it is scalable. 

• Think through the business aspect during the product development stage. Don’t look at them too late when so much has been done.

• Evaluate whether they should focus on the R&D later on in their journey or whether they can outsource it so that they can focus on marketing and distribution. 

• Mentees also need to reach out to mentors, make the most out of it, and utilize the expertise available to them. Seek out other mentors and do your best to seek the specific guidance you need.

At Villgro Kenya we run a mentorship program for our portfolio companies, in a bid to expose them the much-needed guidance in business development and product development. Feel free to view our mentors here .

Aug 28, 202021:45