Early-stage venture capital FUND

Backing Africa's exceptional female founders

Eloho Omame helping Zoie Health deliver health kits to people's doors.

We’re an early believer for a generation of African women in tech

long-term

Writing high conviction “first checks” for diverse teams building for scale and sustainability

mission-driven

Tackling Africa’s VC gender funding gap to empower more female high-growth entrepreneurs

founder-focused

Helping female founders get the financial, social and belief capital to build category-defining companies

We are sector-agnostic and welcome applications from founders building exciting, high-growth startups in any industry.

Submit a pitch
Submit a pitch

Our team

Eloho Omame

Co-Founder & General Partner

Eloho is Co-Founder & GP at FirstCheck Africa. She's also a Partner at TLcom Capital, a seed to growth stage venture capital firm in Africa.

Odunayo Eweniyi

Co-Founder & General Partner

Odunayo is Co-Founder & GP at FirstCheck Africa. She’s also the Co-Founder & COO at Piggvest, a fintech company in Africa.

Temi Ransome-Kuti

Senior Associate

Temi is a Senior Associate at FirstCheck Africa. She supports the team's investment processes and portfolio management.

Ayomide Akindele

Venture Intern

Ayomide is a Venture Capital Intern at FirstCheck Africa. He supports investment processes for the fund and the angel program.

Derin Adebayo

Venture Partner

Derin is a Venture Partner at FirstCheck Africa. He helps members of our angel program find and invest in the very best deals.

Leye Agunbiade

Venture Associate

Leye is a Venture Associate at FirstCheck Africa. He develops processes, workflows and member resources to support our angel program.

Learn more about us

Our portfolio


FirstCheck Africa invests in exceptional founders tackling complex problems in deep markets to build great companies.

Filter investments by:
Uncover

Creating cutting-edge skincare for African women

Personal Care

Uncover

Uncover is a digital-first skincare brand that combines cutting-edge Korean technology with premium African ingredients to formulate innovative, affordable products made for African women.

Country
Kenya
Sector
Personal Care
Founder(s)
Sneha Mehta
Jade Oyateru
Catherine Lee
We were strategic about the investors we wanted and FirstCheck Africa ticked all our boxes: founder friendly, mission-aligned, supportive, accessible and future-focused.
Sneha Mehta
Akiba Digital

Providing credit infrastructure for financial services

Financial Services

Akiba Digital

Akiba Digital enables lending to SMEs and thin-filed customers with embedded finance solutions and alternative credit scoring.

Country
South Africa
Sector
Financial Services
Founder(s)
Tebogo Mokwena
Tebogo Mokwena
MoneyHash

Designing a better checkout experience for online merchants

Financial Services

MoneyHash

MoneyHash is building a super API for payments that enables merchants to provide a unified checkout experience for their customers and access data through a central dashboard.

Country
Egypt
Sector
Financial Services
Founder(s)
Nader Abdelrazik
Mustafa Eid
Anisha Sekar
We look for partners that can amplify our voice and advocate for diversity in VC. We’re a proud portfolio company of FirstCheck Africa – they bring a unique and thoughtful perspective.
Nader Abdelrazik
Pivo

Providing banking services to supply-chain SMEs

Financial Services

Pivo

Pivo is a digital bank that’s creating tailored credit products and banking services for SMEs serving Africa’s major supply chains.

Country
Nigeria
Sector
Financial Services
Founder(s)
Nkiru Amadi-Emina
Ijeoma Akwiku
FirstCheck Africa’s investment was a door-opener. They continue to hold the door open for Pivo, helping us expand our networks and achieve month-on-month growth.
Nkiru Amadi-Emina
Foondamate

Helping students in developing markets study online

Education

Foondamate

Foondamate brings the internet, through WhatsApp and Facebook chatbots, to students with limited data access in developing markets.

Country
South Africa
Sector
Education
Founder(s)
Dacod Magalula
Tao Boyle
FirstCheck Africa has been instrumental as a thought partner to Foondamate on the journey from pre-seed to seed, helping us build out our products, teams and processes.
Dacod Magalula
Zoie Health

Enabling convenient healthcare services for women

Healthcare

Zoie Health

Zoie Health is a health & wellness platform that facilitates digital and in-person primary care consults and delivers contraception and diagnostic test kits to women in the comfort of their homes.

Country
South Africa
Sector
Healthcare
Founder(s)
Thato Schermer
Nonhlanhla Sitole
With FirstCheck Africa, we got a world-class investor and a hands-on partner that’s with us in the trenches as we build. They feel like part of the Zoie Health team.
Thato Schermer
View all

From our partners

A cornerstone of our thesis is that the most successful scale companies of the continent’s future will be technology-enabled and have more diverse leadership, including significantly more women, at their helm.

Eloho Omame
Co-Founder & General Partner

Where other investors might see risk, we see an opportunity to drive solid returns by backing the continent’s female founders — exceptional leadership talent driving startups built for long-term success.

Odunayo Eweniyi
Co-Founder & General Partner

We invest in pre-seed and seed-stage startups with at least one female founder or co-founder

Submit a pitch
Submit a pitch

Join our angel program

We’ve built a majority-female community to support greater diversity in early-stage investing and help even more people become great angel investors.

Learn more

Our content


We host founder-focused virtual events and publish content on our blog. Sometimes, we're featured in the press.

September 12, 2022

There's never been a better time to invest in Africa's female founders

August 16, 2022

The African investor championing female founders on the continent

June 27, 2022

TLcom Capital appoints Eloho Omame as partner

June 17, 2022

Meet 11 female founders making strides in Africa

January 26, 2021

FirstCheck: getting African women entrepreneurs the funding they deserve

January 26, 2021

These investors want to back 'ridiculously early' female-led African startups

February 4, 2021

Female-focused angel fund FirstCheck to invest $25k in early-stage startups

September 22, 2021

Female entrepreneurs are tackling Africa's logistics problems

August 2, 2021

Next Wave: Make way for African female founders

June 8, 2022

How women in east Africa are reshaping tech

March 8, 2022

The 10 most innovative companies in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in 2022

March 15, 2022

6 African women CEOs discuss how they raised more than $1M in 2021

February 12, 2022

Funds are emerging to back African female tech founders

August 20, 2021

What a $25,000 first check does for Africa's female founders

View more

Frequently asked questions

What is FirstCheck Africa?

FirstCheck Africa is an early-stage VC fund investing in technology-driven startups in Africa with at least one female founder or co-founder. We invest at the pre-seed and seed stages.

Why does FirstCheck Africa focus on female founders?

FirstCheck Africa is an early believer in a generation of female technology entrepreneurs in Africa. A cornerstone of our thesis is that the most successful scale companies of the continent’s future will be technology-enabled and have more diverse leadership, including significantly more women, at their helm.

When women create startups, they have trouble getting funding. In Africa, as in much of the rest of the world, female technology entrepreneurs are underrepresented in venture capital. By some estimates, around one in three early-stage tech startups on the continent has a female founder. But less than 2% of capital is allocated to all-female co-founding teams and just 10% to gender-diverse teams. Startups led by women and mixed-gender co-founding teams raise systematically less capital than their all-male peers. And despite receiving, on average, less than half of the investment capital of their peers, female-founded companies deliver twice as much revenue per dollar invested.

Diversity improves financial results. Firms with strong female representation on their boards are 28% more likely to outperform their peers, and firms with gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to outperform.

One in three employees in Africa’s nascent technology ecosystem is female. Women are building track records as results-driven operators on a continent with stark hard and soft infrastructural deficits. Africa’s female tech talent is emerging not just in technical roles like software development but also across roles like marketing, product, operations and talent management — also critical to meet the unique challenges of building sustainable technology-driven businesses in Africa.

Where other investors might see risk, we see an opportunity to drive solid returns by backing the continent’s female founders — exceptional leadership talent driving startups built for long-term success.

Is FirstCheck Africa an impact fund?

We are a mission-driven VC fund focused on generating solid financial returns from commercially-driven technology ventures. We invest in for-profit companies with significant high-growth potential and at least one female founder or co-founder. Our investments meet commonly accepted GLI metrics, including the 2X Collaborative’s 2X Criteria.

What do the terms “pre-seed” and “seed” investing mean?

“Pre-seed” and “seed” are commonly used to refer to the very earliest stages of fundraising in a startup’s journey. Sometimes, the lines can be blurred because founders and VCs don’t always define them the same way, and indicative round sizes can differ from one market to the next.

We like to refer to pre-seed rounds as “launch rounds”. Pre-seed capital takes you from a robust idea to a launched version of your product or from a recently-launched product to a validated one. It usually includes angel investors and friends & family, and increasingly in Africa, dedicated pre-seed funds. We expect startups raising seed rounds to have achieved a good level of market traction with a product that’s been in the market for about 12-18 months, sometimes less, but not usually much more. Often founders raising seed rounds have previously raised a pre-seed round.

One of our aspirations is to completely remove the need for angels and friends & family rounds at the pre-seed stage by providing all or most of a startup’s launch capital. Friends & family may be a viable first port of call for founders based in Europe or Silicon Valley, but they are often unrealistic sources of meaningful launch capital for many founders building great businesses in Africa, particularly female entrepreneurs. Women also tend to find that it takes longer to close their early rounds. By launching with more significant capital from fewer investors, we want to help great founders shorten their time to market.

What do you look for in a potential investment?

Pre-seed startups may be pre- or post-launch and pre- or post-revenues. If your startup is already generating revenues, then it’s had a product in the market for a short time. At the pre-seed stage, we will consider investments as early as the idea stage. Still, we are unlikely to invest off the back of a proverbial napkin. We like to see a team of committed founders encouraging feedback from initial market development, a product mock-up or a functional prototype. We’re excited by founders that have unique insights about the problem they're solving and understand their market opportunity and target customers.

At the seed stage, we’re looking for a launched product that customers love, strong growth in revenues, users and other traction indicators, signs of product-market fit, attractive unit economics, and a founding team that’s gearing up to scale. We anticipate $10,000 or more in monthly revenues.

Pre-seed or seed, the most critical factor in our decision-making is the founder or co-founding team. We look for data-driven founders who combine domain expertise with passion, tenacity and resourcefulness. We need to know that you can handle the pace of execution that startups require to build, compete and scale. If you are a first-time founder, we like to understand what you’ve done in this company and your career. For second-time or serial founders, we want to know how your previous experience equips you to succeed with this startup.

We get most excited about potential investments that tick several of these boxes:

  • Africa-based founders or co-founding teams
  • Large and growing addressable markets in Africa
  • Solid, defensible margins (or margin potential) and predictable revenue streams 
  • Business models that prioritise capital efficiency and scalability
  • Customer acquisition advantages, network effects and embedded virality
  • Strong growth rates and user engagement metrics

How do I know if it’s the right time to approach FirstCheck Africa?

We’re named FirstCheck Africa for a reason. You're probably too late if you’re raising your third or fourth round. At the same time, while we like to be the first institutional money in, we’ve invested in founders who raised capital before coming to us. We won’t invest beyond the seed stage. We don’t invest in bridge rounds to Series A.

We have invested pre-revenue. For very early startups, we like to see a thoughtful approach to your market and product, as well as compelling evidence of demand and market pull for your solution. As with any VC, the conviction bar is higher the earlier your startup and the less experienced you are as a tech founder. Our general guidance is this: show, don’t tell; build as many irrefutable proof points as possible.

We like first-time founders, so if you’re exceptional and building something great, even if you don’t think you’re ready, we’d still like to know you.

What sectors does FirstCheck Africa invest in?

We are sector-agnostic and welcome applications from founders building an exciting, high-growth startup in any industry.

Our investments tend to cluster around critical sectors, including retail & consumer, financial services, education and healthcare. We think there’s still a lot of long-term value in these sectors as founders in Africa digitise infrastructure and create products to deliver significant value in B2C and B2B markets. But if you’re building something different that meets our investment criteria, we’d still like to hear from you.

What countries does FirstCheck Africa invest in?

So far, we’ve invested in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. We tend to focus on those markets because that’s where we have the most experience and the deepest networks and, therefore, where we can be the most valuable partners to our founders.

Some African markets have proven challenging for us to invest in, typically because they have comparatively small TAMs, features that impede business model scalability or restrictions on foreign investments and cross-border capital flows. We’ll consider backing founders from any African country if these concerns can be addressed.

What is FirstCheck Africa’s investment process?

Our process is designed to help us make good decisions while respecting founders’ time. It can vary slightly from one startup to the next, but there are basic steps every founder goes through. We’re a remote team, so most of our meetings with founders happen via video by default.

First screen: All founders enter the top of our funnel by filling in a basic information form (with a pitch deck attached) through our website. We’re happy to receive inbounds via warm introductions from people in our network or directly from founders. Regardless of the source, we ask all founders to fill in the same form as a starting point. We’ll review your information to determine if your startup passes our team’s first screen against our investment criteria. If it does, we invite you to pitch. We try to respond to each submission within a week.

First meeting: The first meeting is usually 45 minutes, during which you walk us through your pitch deck. We use the meeting to learn about you as a founder, your team, and what you’re building and introduce you to our fund. Within a week of that first meeting, after our team has had a chance to deliberate, we’ll give you feedback. At this point, our decision is whether we’re ready to move forward in principle with an investment in your startup. About 30% of companies that pass our first screen make it past the first meeting. When we don’t move forward, we try to help by sharing our reasons.

Follow-up meetings: After the first meeting, we typically have one follow-up meeting with a startup, sometimes more. These help us learn more about your startup, dive deeper into some of the topics discussed in your first pitch, interrogate your core assumptions and fill any significant gaps in our understanding of your market. If we didn’t meet the entire co-founding team in the first meeting, we ask to meet everyone now. Follow-up meetings also allow you to ask us more about FirstCheck Africa.

Indicative offer: Once we are satisfied that all our preliminary questions have been appropriately answered, we confirm our interest by making an in-principle offer in writing by email. We’ll let you know how much we’d like to invest and on what terms, including valuation. At this point, you are in our active pipeline.

Due diligence: If you accept our in-principle offer, we move quickly to due diligence. The extent of our diligence obviously varies by stage of the company. Still, we expect every founder to anticipate and be prepared for basic due diligence. We’ll send you a due diligence checklist and give you about a week to pull together your information. If it’s ready to go, we start due diligence immediately. We dig even deeper into your data, plans, and assumptions in this phase. We’ll schedule a two-hour Q&A call with you and may make reference calls to your customers, partners, investors and peers. This is also where we start to assess the gaps in your team, evaluate the support your company needs and think concretely about how we might be able to help.

Final decision: After your Q&A call, our team will collate all our learnings to deliberate internally and check that there are no red flags. If there are no issues, we confirm our offer, again in writing, and move to close as quickly as possible. We aim to get back to you within 48 hours. From here, the next steps are signing documents and wiring cash. Nowadays, most founders use SAFEs which makes closing quick and easy. We tend to close on about seven in 10 startups that make it to this final decision stage.

We always try to leave the door open. Sometimes, we don’t invest because the timing isn’t quite right. That means a future learning, milestone or proof-point is important for our investment decision but not resolved in our diligence. We’ll usually ask to reconnect within a specific timeframe if that happens.

How long does your investment process take?

You should expect a fast-paced process. We guide founders towards four to six weeks on average, from the first pitch to signing and wires.

We run a flexible, responsive process that can vary based on the specifics of each deal. We hate to waste founders’ time, so we try to move quickly, but our ability to do so also depends on you, your information quality and responsiveness.

How much does FirstCheck Africa invest? And on what terms?

Across our pre-seed and seed-stage deals, our initial check sizes range from $50K to $250K.

We don’t invest using a fixed formula. We treat each investment individually and evaluate each opportunity on its own merits. Depending on when we invest and including follow-ons, our investment strategy targets 5-10% ownership.

Do you make follow-on investments?

We’re serious about supporting our companies and reserve some capital for follow-on investments in companies that out-perform. We also usually ask for a pro-rata right when making each investment.

What support does FirstCheck Africa offer its founders?

We want to be the most sought-after early-stage VC partner for founders on the continent, so we take founder success seriously at FirstCheck Africa. When a founder puts their trust in us, we put our energy, expertise, network and brand to work for them. We’re partners through the usual ups and downs of company-building, helping founders solve problems, make the connections they need and ultimately raise the next round of capital.

Our founder success initiatives are built around three philosophies. First, we are co-creators with the founders in our growing portfolio. This means we can respond to our founders’ actual needs in a practical – never theoretical – and scalable way. Second, we’re respectful of founders’ time. We deliver our support while maintaining the boundary between being helpful and staying out of your way. We’re not big fans of rigid support programs for female founders in Africa – we think the ecosystem has historically leaned too heavily in that direction. The best way for founders to learn is to get their hands dirty, make mistakes and make better decisions. It’s not our job to run your company or challenge your vision, and we don’t want to distract you from building. Third, our delivery mindset is always “pull, not push”, which means you’ll get as much out of FirstCheck Africa as you proactively ask for. It also means that we get real-time, organic feedback on the efficacy of our support.

We’re creating leverage for our founders in four areas:

FirstCheck Africa’s Founding Partners
In addition to being entrepreneurs themselves, our co-founding partners have worked with many founders building different companies across sectors. That means they can be thoughtful in sharing hard-won lessons from their experiences and those of other entrepreneurs. Our co-founders are always accessible informally via email, phone, or Whatsapp.

We anchor our formal interactions with each startup around monthly “office hours” – 45-minute meetings where we discuss performance, challenges, opportunities and strategy in a structured way. At a founder’s request, we can set up “working sessions” where we work through an important and specific challenge their startup is facing. The scope of these working sessions can extend to most topics, such as user acquisition & growth, recruitment & talent management, co-founder dynamics or fundraising.

Capital raising
Capital is a serious competitive advantage, especially for startups in Africa. If only based on the sheer volume of deals we see, raising capital is an area where our team will always have more experience than our founders. We do all we can to help our companies get to Series A and beyond. Success is helping our founders raise efficiently and on good terms from some of the best follow-on investors, locally and internationally.

We reserve some capital to follow on, but we are conscious that there is infinitely more capital available outside FirstCheck Africa than inside. Externally, we work to make sure that we are building credible, high-quality networks so that we can help our founders connect easily with the best funds and investors actively deploying in Africa. We also use our leverage to back-channel on our founders’ behalf. Internally, we work tightly with our founders to develop their fundraising strategies, establish KPIs and structure pitch materials.

Expert network
Even experienced founders need access to domain expertise to shape their ideas and form their opinions about strategies and tactics to build their businesses sustainably. Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is by learning from people who’ve been there before. We understand the competitive advantage of a robust network and invest heavily in ours for our founders’ benefit. Our network includes domain experts and proven operators who can be helpful to our founders in practical ways. If we don’t have the answer or the connection, we know someone who will.

We’re building a cross-functional database of experts that we can connect to our founders for custom, focused advice based on their specific challenges. Whatever a founder’s challenge, we can usually set them up for an expert call, coffee, or meeting to help chart a way forward. We’ve sometimes structured medium-term engagements with experts that allow our founders to resolve a specific business-related issue over several weeks or months.

Peer network
Beyond a portfolio, we’re building a community at FirstCheck Africa. Experienced founders will tell you that some of the most valuable advice they ever received came from other founders.

A core piece of our portfolio support is the peer learning & advice opportunity between founders themselves. We provide the coordination that allows those interactions to happen organically. In addition to thoughtful one-on-one connections based on shared experiences, we regularly bring founders together for founder-led roundtables and expert-led workshops on timely and common startup challenges, sometimes led by one of our co-founding partners.

How do I get in touch with you about investing in my company?

We invite founders to share their pitches directly with us using the form on our website. Warm introductions, usually from founders in our portfolio or investors in our network, are also welcome.

Regardless of the source, we redirect all reach-outs to the same starting point in our process and try to respond to every founder as quickly as possible.

What is the FirstCheck Africa angel program?

The FirstCheck Africa angel program is an investing community for Africa-focused angels interested in building high-quality, thoughtful portfolios over time. Our members invest together on a deal by deal basis. Roughly two-thirds of our members are women, but the group does not apply a gender lens to its pipeline.

Our goal is to encourage more female participation in angel investing. Rather than a homogeneous women-only network, we see value in building a diverse, collaborative community with access to an excellent, well-curated, high-quality deal flow. The angel program is operated separately from our fund. However, our co-founding partners are members, and the fund sometimes looks at the same deals. The angel program focuses on seed-stage startups, and the group typically writes check sizes of $50K to $100K per deal. Each of our members pays an annual membership fee of $1,000 and commits to making four or more investments a year of no less than $2,500 each. We also share resources, curate information and host events to help our members become great angel investors.

To enquire about our angel program, please fill out this form. A team member will get back to you quickly with eligibility criteria and joining information.

Join our angel program

Please fill out the form below to register your interest and a team member will be in touch soon.

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