We're thrilled this morning to announce two things: TLcom Capital, one of the most prominent Africa-focused seed to series B venture capital firms, has committed $2m to FirstCheck Africa, and Eloho, one of our founders, has joined TLcom Capital as a Partner, adding to her existing day-to-day role as Co-Managing Partner at FirstCheck Africa.
This move allows FirstCheck Africa to support more female-led startups by giving us access to additional capital. Including our $10m debut fund, FirstCheck Africa will be investing $12m as a single pool of capital against our strategy of backing high-growth, technology-driven startups with at least one female founder or co-founder.
FirstCheck Africa will now invest up to $250k as high conviction first checks into early-stage rounds for female-led startups. We remain sector-agnostic and focused on technology-enabled companies that are solving important problems in large markets. Our strategy is to invest in female-led companies with category-leadership potential while throwing the weight of FirstCheck Africa's networks and platform behind the founders that will be the next generation of entrepreneurial role models for Africa.
Africa's tech & venture capital ecosystem is at an exciting inflection point for talent, capital access, company-building and diversity. We've spent the last 18 months investing, refining our thesis and testing our investment strategy. We are more convinced than ever that the best-performing companies of Africa's future will have much more diverse leadership, including many more female founders, at their helm.
In January 2021, Eloho Omame and Odun Eweniyi launched FirstCheck Africa as an angel fund to address capital access for female tech entrepreneurs in Africa. They saw a clear investment opportunity in Africa's gender funding gap, had a unique perspective on the market and understood that in their leadership roles within the tech ecosystem, they could play high-leverage roles by creating a platform that would be an early believer for ambitious female founders, and help them find the support that they needed to be effective and succeed in the mainstream startup ecosystem, alongside their male peers.
We're excited that what started as personal commitments to invest up to $25k each in six female-led companies has evolved into an institutional fund with millions of dollars under management. In the last 18 months, FirstCheck Africa has invested in 10 female-led startups in four countries. Our portfolio companies have been accepted into three global accelerators (including Y Combinator), and a number have raised sizeable follow-on rounds, with FirstCheck Africa as the first or second institutional investor on their cap tables. We've opened doors for female-led companies, helping them close their rounds faster and on founder-friendlier terms.
Three years ago, just 5 female-led companies in Africa raised $1mn or more in early-stage rounds. Last year, the number was 33, and so far this year, we count 19, including 6 companies this month, of which FirstCheck Africa is an investor in 3. We're quickly becoming the preferred early-stage investor for female founders building venture-scale companies, and we are proud to be building an investment firm with their needs in mind.
We're a small fund with big ambitions, and we've designed our portfolio strategy with our founders' needs in mind. Access to capital is a primary and complex challenge for female-led companies. As a mission-oriented early-stage, female-focused fund, it’s critical for like FirstCheck Africa to invest meaningful capital to give the young companies in our portfolio sufficient runway to focus on traction and pursue disciplined fundraises when the time comes. We’ve constructed our debut fund’s portfolio to make targeted investments at pre-seed, keep the capacity to make follow-on investments when the most promising of those companies are ready for seed capital, and retain the flexibility to invest in some companies at the seed stage, where a female-led company might have already raised an institutional round.
FirstCheck Africa's mission is to advance equity, capital and leadership for a generation of women in Africa through technology and entrepreneurship. We will continue to focus on making it easier for ambitious African women to raise early-stage venture capital by writing checks, being female-led companies' earliest believers and building our platform to attract resources to accelerate their efforts.
For additional information on FirstCheck Africa, please visit our website at www.firstcheck.africa.