FirstCheck: getting African women entrepreneurs the funding they deserve

Eloho Omame, managing director, Endeavor Nigeria has partnered with Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder and COO, Piggyvest to launch FirstCheck, an innovative network of female Business Angels joining their forces to support women-led and women-focused startups in Africa.

As the name suggests, FirstCheck was created to connect and empower female angel investors and women entrepreneurs in Africa. Including tech executives and venture capitalists, the network’s angel investors come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and industries. In addition to networking, special events, scouting and support at every step in the investment process, the investor platform’s main objective is to give African women in tech their first check by investing up to $25,000 in each woman at the ideation stage and working to help her raise a significant pre-seed round within 12 months after being confirmed.

On the entrepreneur side, FirstCheck funds startups that are either led by women or which address women’s issues. “Our goal is to create enablers and active pathways between Africa’s growing community of early-stage funders and female founders,” Omame said in her launch announcement.

Women receive half the investment capital as men

Female-led teams still find it challenging to raise funds and be taken seriously. This was the case of Damilola Olokesusi, CEO of Shuttlers, whose story of gender bias in the workplace was during a board meeting she attended with her co-founders – an all-female team. A misogynistic statement made by a male attendee made it difficult for her and her team to be taken seriously throughout the meeting. Every woman who runs a business has her own story to tell.

Gender investment gap: a missed opportunity

FirstCheck is building infrastructure around women in technology, believing it will generate a solid return on investment. In exchange for modest equity, FirstCheck will invest in female founders aiming to validate their ideas and build viable products.

However, to answer the question of whether or not they are willing to invest in mixed-gender co-founding teams, FirstCheck will invest in those with at least one woman where it’s clear that “the woman is a true partner and decision-maker, with a significant, equitable split of the founder equity.”

FirstCheck: a network to bridge the investment gap

FirstCheck was founded to help solve this investment imbalance. The investment startup will be working with a community of African women with ideas for technology startups, even those with vague ideas that could eventually become startups in the future. Businesses that are no longer in their ideation stage but already in their early stages of execution, pre-revenue especially, will be considered as well.

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