In this modern era of fast-paced advancements and increasing challenges, the role of changemakers is to navigate a potential roadmap to drive growth and escalate innovation. The new-age leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs with their respective companies and brands are marking a global presence not only by delivering excellent performance but also by encouraging a purpose-driven and customer-centric approach.
One such company, leading a change and disrupting the traditional patterns in the field of venture capital investments is none other than Launch Africa.
Spearheading the company with ground-breaking transformation and promptly identifying investment pain points and gaps, the dynamic duo Janade du Pleassie and Zachariah George, Founders, and Managing Partners are taking Launch Africa by storm. Designing tailored solutions that address the unique needs and challenges of their clients, Janade and Zachariah are backing promising startups to become the next big thing.
A Sneak Peek into Janade and Zach’s Professional Journey
Transformation starts with leadership and Zach and Janade’s sheer dedication has helped Launch Africa to envision and create a future where improving the the quality of life for all Africans through technology is the norm, not the exception.
Janade and Zach both hail from a finance and investment banking background. While Zach established 3 accelerators in Africa, Janade is a fourth-time fund manager. Belonging to the finance background and sharing the same professional experiences, Zach and Janade in 2020 decided to come together to solve the lack of liquidity in the seed investment stage in Africa.
Identifying the problem, where founders were participating in and completing accelerator programs but were unable to access funding afterward. This led them to rush towards a Series A raise without the required traction, business fundamentals, or operational efficiencies.
Launch Africa recognized this gap and wanted to change the ecosystem in several ways:
- Faster, stage-appropriate investment decisions, comprehensive due diligence processes with correct investment tools
- Give access to a global network of investors through their fund investors
- Give access to professional advisors through their advisor network
- Provide significant value addition post-investment
- Provide enterprise partnerships through its extensive Pan-Africa corporate partners
After integrating such remarkable changes, Zach and Janade and the team of Launch Africa were the first institutional investors who brought SAFE notes onto the continent at scale.
About Launch Africa
Launch Africa is a leading Pan-African early-stage investor with 133 investments across 22 countries from its $36.6m maiden seed fund. The company believes in portfolio synergy and invests in highly scalable technology startups across multiple sectors – the most investments being in FinTech, HealthTech, E-Commerce/Marketplace, EdTech, ClimateTech, AI, and Mobility. Launch Africa’s values are: pioneering, creative, collaborative, and efficient.
The focus over the next 12 months is to continue raising for their second fund: LAVFII, a $75M seed fund continuing the work that was done in Fund 1, writing cheques up to $1M, and making 80-90 investments across Africa. The Fund recently launched this new fund and has invested in 8 new companies, mainly with a strong AI and blockchain focus. The fund has also onboarding several new global investors, including family offices and fund-of-funds interested in creating their investment pipeline in Africa.
Leveraging a Transparent Leadership Approach
One of the signs of a true leader is recognizing talent and molding them to become the best version of themselves. As a leader, one should invest and focus on their team by cultivating relationships, championing the growth of their team members, discussing shared goals and visions, expressing open communication, and more.
Such a transparent environment is a representation of success and growth, where team members excel at the same pace as the company. Zach and Janade’s leadership styles may differ but they have a common philosophy. The duo believes in hiring the right talent for the right role and giving them the resources and opportunities to grow and develop for that role. A lot of the hiring is done based on people’s personalities and what drives them. Each member of Launch Africa’s team has a different management approach, and the company believes in appropriate transparency and working towards a common goal.
Both partners focus on creating a culture of innovation, teamwork, and operational efficiency so that they lead by example to their portfolio companies on how to optimize and create culture. Although the company is Pan-African and its staff is located in many countries across the African and European Continent, communication is key to ensuring a culture of togetherness. Launch Africa does this through human engagement as well as through its systems and processes. Overall, they have incorporated a transparent leadership style throughout the organization.
Zach decodes his Key Responsibilities
As the co-founding Managing Partner, Zach shoulders numerous responsibilities which include:
- Investor relationships through their global network of 236 investors representing 41 countries around the world
- Managing a pool of talented investment professionals, ensuring their professional growth, and building out their global networks
- Portfolio management
- Building a strong community of founders supporting each other. Facilitate the largest investor-led founder community in Africa of 186 founders
- Ensuring there is active engagement of all of Launch Africa’s team and founders with their bi-weekly office hours as well as through its coverage model for monthly and quarterly check-ins
- Having a systems-driven approach to portfolio management allows the team to have access to the key performance indicators of all its portfolio companies
- A strong focus on impact allows the team to track the impact that their companies are having throughout the African continent.
More about Launch Africa’s Core Competencies
Launch Africa aims to stay abreast of new trends and competition in the market forefront by adopting these core competencies:
- Raise and deploy capital
- Strategise the best investment strategies
- Activate the VC ecosystem whilst realizing superior returns for its investors through creative means such as secondaries, internal M&A, and facilitating trade sales with corporate Africa
- Commercial structuring and negotiating and helping portfolio companies optimize revenue and cost efficiencies.
- Coaching and mentoring of its founders on a personal and professional basis
- Structured approaches to post-investment support mean that the company can invest at scale whilst still delivering quality
- Develop a talent pool of talented investment professionals, the majority of whom are African and people of color
The Wall of Achievements
Launch Africa’s journey to the forefront is worthwhile, the key highlights include:
- Raising capital from retail investors, 236+ 41 countries
- Ability to invest in 133 companies
- The ability for their co-investors to invest with no fees and carry an additional $17+M
- Half of their portfolio companies have raised follow-on capital with their support
- 25% of their portfolio companies are female-owned and managed
- Further, develop 18 investment professionals’ skills
- Create 3000+ jobs through its capital and mobilize into highly impactful ventures such as Gozem and Affinity Africa mostly across multiple SDGs
- 1. No Poverty
- 5. Gender Equality
- 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
- 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Additionally, it has won many notable acknowledgments including winning the “Most Attractive Investor” award at the Viva AfricArena Summit, Most Prolific Investor (2021, 2022, 2023), Africa’s Most Active Venture Capital Investor since 2021, South Africa’s Startup “Investor of the Year 2023” award and more. It has also made it to the news for its incredible work and consistent performance.
Skyrocketing in the Next Few Years
Launch Africa’s goal over the next couple of years is to become a diversified financial platform offering the right financial solutions to startups at the early stages of their growth. The company is currently raising a $75M fund, and will later raise a $150M Growth Fund whilst continuing to open networks for investors in Africa.
Golden Words of Wisdom
“Always build to solve or improve a real customer need. Use and optimize what you already have. Focus on building your network as much as you build your product- relationships are your key success factor in life. Build a strong team around you. Employ people far more intelligent than yourself and allow them to shine. Impact and profit are equally important in Africa.”