FirstCheck Africa, a Nigeria-based female-focused venture capital firm, has secured a $2 million commitment from TLcom Capital, an Africa-focused Venture capital firm, the company has announced.
In addition, FirstCheck also announced that Eloho Omame, one of its founders, has joined TLcom Capital as a Partner, adding to her existing day-to-day role as Co-Managing Partner at FirstCheck Africa.
FirstCheck said the commitment, which adds to its $10 million debut, takes its single pool of capital to $12 million – and it will be invested in backing high-growth, technology-driven startups led by females.
With the available capital, FirstCheck Africa said it will 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,” the firm said.
Female-led startups struggle to get financial backing in the African tech ecosystem, a gap that motivated Eloho Omame, founding Managing Director of Endeavor Nigeria and Odunayo Eweniyi, COO and co-founder of PiggyVest, to launch FirstCheck in 2021. In the last 18 months, FirstCheck Africa has invested in 10 female-led startups in four countries, boosting its portfolio that started with personal commitments of $25,000 investment each in six female-led companies.
The venture capital firm said its 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.
It said its 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,” the firm said.
Female-focused startups have seen an uptick in investment recently due to the strategy of venture capital firms like FirstCheck. The company said there’s been a significant jump from three years ago, when 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,” it said.
Though the gap is gradually being bridged, there is still a lot more to do. The African tech ecosystem is still saturated with early-stage female-led companies in need of capital. This, FirstCheck said it’s working to change with its mission-oriented early-stage, female-focused fund.
“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,” the firm said.