My goal is to make Vakayi Capital the top impact-investing firm in Southern Africa. I still have a long way to go, but thanks to Capria, I am closer to it being a reality than ever before.
The History of Vakayi Capital
My partner and I met on opposite sides of the fundraising process. In the mid-90s, I was working for one of Zimbabwe’s leading venture capital firms, and he was raising capital for a telecommunications service provider. Our children attended the same school, and we remained in touch through the years. In 2012, a chance meeting at our kids’ school resulted in us sharing our frustrations about our attempts to set up funds. Both of us had dreams of setting up a Zimbabwe-focused SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) fund and expanding in the region, but a lack of progress and capital had discouraged the general investing community, most of which left to seek other opportunities.
Since my partner and I were not type of people who give up so easily, we decided to team up and launch a fund that would support Zimbabwean SMEs. We engaged a US based placement agent who recommended that we pursue a pan African strategy. We later discovered that the agent had no experience in the African market and we parted ways having lost time and money. In 2013, we were introduced to a Dutch fund that had already invested in a West African SME Fund and was seeking to expand their business in Southern Africa. We revised our strategy to focus first on Zimbabwe, and agreed that the Dutch fund would become an anchor investor. Two years later, our Dutch partners informed us that they were shelving fund raising efforts due to lack of investor support. We were discouraged but still continued to build on the momentum we had gathered.
The Capria Advantage
Fortunately, later in 2015, the Dutch firm put us in touch with Capria. The dream of our Zimbabwe-focused SME fund once again seemed within reach. After a rigorous due diligence process, we were accepted into the inaugural Cohort. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that our team was among 3 out of 66 applications that made it through the process.
My partner and I recently finished the 4-week Intensive program, which took place in Seattle. It was a period of intense and productive learning. Although we went in specifically interested in how Capria would further support our fundraising efforts, we took a lot more away from the experience than connections and a better fundraising strategy. The time at the Intensive covered the many facets of fund management, including optimizing administration and legal structuring to marketing and measuring impact. While we missed the Harare sunshine and our families, the Intensive gave us the time and resources we needed to get our fund to the next stage. For us, the icing on the cake was the Fund Managers Forum, which provided us an opportunity to pitch our fund to 60+ potential investors who manage a combined $10 Billion in impact capital. The Capria team and its pool of external resources worked alongside us as we polished our investor pitch, fine-tuning both the presentation and supporting documents. The great work put in by the Capria team combined with the access to experts, mentors and advisors made for an exciting and value adding experience. We left Seattle with much more clarity and momentum that will be required to drive towards final close of our impact fund. As we have landed back in our hometown, we are excited to take advantage of Capria’s warehousing facility. It will enable us to immediately start doing deals and put our investment thesis into action for further leverage with LPs. Overall, the Intensive was a great opportunity for us to sharpen our fundraising and investment strategies, and map out concrete processes to move forward.
What are you waiting for?
We would encourage aspiring as well as existing fund managers who are fully committed to raising and managing impact funds to apply. The Intensive is a great opportunity for fund managers to network, share experiences, share knowledge, and acquaint themselves with global best practices pertaining to overall fund management. We are excited to be a part of the growing Capria Network and look forward to meeting the new members that will be a part of Cohort 2.
Patrick Makanza is the Chief Investment Officer of Vakayi Capital. He can be reached at Patrick@vakayi.com