Catalyzing African Investment: Aruwa Capital Management

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, the founder of Aruwa Capital Management, offered significant insights as one of the panelists during the first session of the Technology, Media, and Telecommunication (TMT) Business Law Breakfast Series 2024 hosted by Duale, Ovia, and Alex-Adedipe (DOA). She addressed the notable decline in Venture Capital investment activity across Africa, particularly in private equity. Adesuwa emphasized her strong advocacy for inward-looking investment strategies, highlighting the proactive deployment of funds by local investors like Aruwa Capital Management.

During her session, Adesuwa stressed the importance of implementing practical reforms in government policies to foster an environment conducive to attracting local investors. She expressed the significant positive changes with the introduction of The Startup Act. These reforms, she believes, are essential for encouraging local investors to actively participate and invest in the African market.

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes speaking at the TMT Business Law Series 2024

Abiketreasure Media (TAM) had the privilege of conducting an exclusive one-on-one interview with Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, where she further elaborated on her perspectives in funding startup founders and recommendations. Below are the details of the insightful interview:

TAM: As an investor in tech startups, what do you consider the most critical factor when assessing potential investments in the ecosystem?

Adesuwa: Thank you for the question. At Aruwa Capital Management, we focus on early-stage startups in Nigeria and Ghana, having made about 10 investments so far. Our fund is pretty much fully deployed, and I would emphasize that the most crucial aspect in our assessment is the entrepreneurs themselves. Ultimately, we’re investing in people, committing to a long-term relationship spanning 4 to 6 years. Hence, we evaluate whether the entrepreneurs possess knowledge, willingness to institutionalize, accountability, readiness to accept and fulfill the responsibilities of institutional capital, and reliability. Openness is also paramount. From my experience, investing in people is paramount. Additionally, we consider other factors such as the size of their target market, is it sufficiently large? How has historical performance been? And what is the depth of the management team? While these are significant considerations, based on my experience, the most crucial aspect has been the person you’re investing in and the long-term relationship you can form with them.

TAM: How do international trade dynamics influence your investment decision?

Adesuwa: Yes, I would say that for us, we invest with the goal of returning capital to our investors. Therefore, ensuring that the businesses we invest in are scalable across borders, both within Africa and globally, it is very important. Moreover, it’s essential that they are attractive to potential international investors as our primary responsibility is generating returns. Therefore, international trade dynamics play a substantial role in our investment strategy. We seek businesses with exportable and scalable goods and services, particularly in the tech sector, when deploying capital.

TAM: What are your thoughts on collaboration between the public and private sectors?

Adesuwa: I believe we’ve made significant strides in collaboration between the public and private sectors, as evidenced by the passing of the Startup Act last year. I am very optimistic and hopeful that this trend will continue, as we cannot effectively operate in isolation. Collaboration between the private and public sectors is crucial for creating a sustainable and scalable ecosystem. Therefore, I’m very optimistic about the prospects for increased collaboration.

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