African women in business are the fastest-growing segment of the population. There is a lot of potential for this demographic and as a result, there is an increased demand for African women in business. With the continent’s rich history of strong women in business and trade, it is no surprise that today the continent has a special generation of women in entrepreneurship. This generation is taking over some big industries such as manufacturing, retail and education.
These women are no exception as they are trailblazing in their respective industries and making a difference. They have their first-ever all-women-led private equity fund that helps female entrepreneurs with funding for their business ventures. The fund is worth $100 million. It is set to bridge the funding gap in favour of African female entrepreneurs who are greatly overlooked when it comes to funding.
Polo’s story is one of many inspiring examples of how women can create their success, even in male-dominated industries like tech and entrepreneurship – where men still make up 80% of employees. Polo Leteka Radebe is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Alitheia. She is a highly successful and experienced entrepreneur and private equity investor, with decades of experience in investment banking. She founded a fund management firm in South Africa in 2007, investing in the technology, petrochemicals, transport and insurance sectors. Polo is also known for her appearance on South Africa’s version of the Dragon’s Den. This is a popular show that offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their business and stand a chance to receive funding from the Dragons.
Polo is passionate about offering support to African entrepreneurs that struggle to get funding from financial institutions. As a result, Polo joined forces with Tokunboh Ishmael to develop a fund that contributes towards directing investments into female-owned SMEs across Africa. Alitheia IDF focuses on empowering female entrepreneurs to successfully grow their businesses and in turn contribute to their communities and the economies.
Tokunboh Ishmael is an investment management guru with over 20 years of experience covering investment banking, private equity investment, technology and business development in the USA, Europe and Africa.
She is a co-founder and managing director of Alitheia Capital and has worked in various roles that involve fundraising and capital management. She raised $50 million for Aureos West Africa by successfully sourcing equity investments for the organisation. She also worked as a Fund Manager for a tech company in Sussex, United Kingdom.
Takunboh is also a Dragon, as she was part of Dragon’s Den Nigeria. She has worked hard to improve female-owned businesses by channelling private equity investments into the businesses to enhance their access to finance. Her career working with investment funds inspired the birth of Alitheia which is pioneering the concept of making investments for a positive financial, social and environmental impact in Nigeria and across Africa.
Tokunboh’s has had many roles in her career and the highlights of her career include taking part in many acquisitions in the oil and gas sector including the acquisition and financing of a government-owned refinery, which led to being the second listing of a Nigerian company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Tokunboh and Polo Leteka have joined forces to build their communities and empower women in business, through their work developing platforms for investment and funding. They will continue to put together traditional private equity investing methods and social consciousness with the hopes of impacting development in Africa while helping female entrepreneurs to grow businesses that are not only sustainable but also scalable.