While working for a growth private equity firm, sourcing great companies and investment opportunities for a global fund, #BellaNaijaWCW this week Eloho Omame Gihan-Mbelu came across founders who were building audacious, pioneering companies in Nigeria and who were determined to succeed against all odds.
Unfortunately, the fund she worked for was used to companies that had raised several rounds already or were even post IPO and it was difficult for them to invest in early stage startups, like the ones she found in Nigeria.
But that wasn’t the only thing Eloho found out. She also discovered, from these founders, that their strongest need wasn’t capital, but mentorship and thought-partnership.
She decided to start making small angel investments in Nigeria, and after sometime, she “gained the courage to walk away from a cushy private equity life in London towards better personal mission-alignment,” as she said in Tech Women Lagos, Techcabal’s AUDACITY series which profiled 50 women in the Lagos technology ecosystem from different backgrounds and at different stages of their technology careers.
When she left the private equity firm – General Atlantic – she founded she founded Amari, a proprietary firm focused on working with, and selectively investing in, early stage, innovation-driven companies in Nigeria. Amari conceptualised, designed and launched ‘Lagos Innovates’, a portfolio of startup support programs sponsored and operated by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
It was while doing her work with Amari, that she came across the people at Endeavor, an organisation that supports entrepreneurs with potential for economic and social impact in their regions. They wanted to extend Endeavor’s successful model for scaling companies in more more than 30 countries.
Currently, Eloho is leading Endeavor Nigeria‘s operations. At this time, they’re working with 11 companies, including Flutterwave, Cars45, Paga, Filmhouse & FilmOne, Kobo360, among others, supporting the entrepreneurs with access to mentorship, talent and expertise, capital and new markets.
Eloho is a former Head of Corporate Development at First Bank of Nigeria and a former investment banker at Renaissance Capital and Credit Suisse. She holds an MBA from London Business School and an undergraduate degree in Economics from the London School of Economics & Political Science.
We celebrate Eloho for her work in democratising resources needed to succeed in entrepreneurship to founders in Nigeria and we’re rooting for her.