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Ex-JP Morgan banker-led Aruwa Capital Management closes its first fund at $20M to invest in female-led startups

Image credits: Aruwa Capital Management

Aruwa Capital Management, a Lagos-based impact investment firm, announced that it has closed its first institutional fund, exceeding its $20 million target.

The fund’s first institutional and anchor investor is Visa Foundation (also invested in Seedstars), followed by other investors such as Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund, Nyala Venture, backed by Financial Sector Deepening Africa Investments and leading family businesses from Africa, Europe, and the United States.

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder of Aruwa Capital Management, says, “Having launched the Fund in October 2019, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, we are very grateful for the confidence of world-class institutional investors who have put their trust in us and share our vision for the continent: generating superior returns, while having a significant socioeconomic development impact in the countries we invest in. We are also delighted to have been able to mobilise 30% of our Fund from local investors, who have a first-hand understanding of the operating terrain, as well as mobilising global capital from well-respected names, a trend we hope to see continue.”

She adds, “We are excited to continue showcasing women’s untapped potential in society through our investment portfolio at Aruwa Capital. Global data has shown that investing with a gender lens improves financial returns as well as providing a multiplier effect for social impact in local communities due to the role women play, we look forward to showcasing this in Africa specifically.”

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, who has a decade of experience in investment banking and private equity in leading organisations, including JP Morgan, founded Aruwa Capital Management in 2019.

Addressing funding gap

Adesuwa started Aruwa to address the investment gap women-led enterprises face in Africa. As per the company’s claims, women comprise 40% of all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) yet receive only 1% of startup capital due to the region’s lack of female capital allocators. 

The Fund will invest $500K to $2.5 million in women-focused small and growing businesses in Nigeria and Ghana, targeting investments in critical sectors such as healthcare, fintech, renewable energy, and essential consumer goods. 

Aruwa aims to invest in innovative businesses that provide essential goods and services to the expanding female economy and companies founded or led by women or have gender-diverse teams.

To date, the Fund has made six investments, committing over 45% of its capital into a diversified portfolio of rapidly growing companies. Aruwa’s team comprises investment professionals and portfolio managers based in Lagos.

Najada Kumbuli, Head of Investments at Visa Foundation, says, “Visa Foundation is pleased to be the first institutional investor in Aruwa Capital Management. We deeply believe that to address the financing gap women-led small businesses face, we need to empower and invest in more women-led investment funds like Aruwa. We were impressed by Adesuwa’s track record and approach to tailoring the Fund’s financing to small business needs. We believe the team’s deep commitment to driving equitable and inclusive economic growth through investments will support the business owners and their communities.”

Sam Akyianu, Chief of Party at the Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund, says, “We selected Aruwa Capital as one of our first investments because we were impressed by the team’s grit, conviction, and depth of analysis, their value addition for early-growth stage SMEs in Nigeria, and their commitment to driving impact for women and youth. We look forward to working with the team to help make Aruwa Capital a success story.”

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