Rwanda Venture Capital

Yeah – I know that “Rwanda Venture Capital” sounds a little out there and no – this isn’t yet another email scam migrated to your RSS feed.  A Denver-based friend – Rob Fogler (a partner at the law firm of Kamlet Shepherd) and his colleague Antoine Bigirimana (the founder of the Kigali Center for Entrepreneurs) have started a Rwanda-based Venture Capital firm called Thousand Hills Venture Fund

While I’m personally not terribly clued into Rwanda (or Africa in general), a number of my friends in Boulder (including Amy) are and it’s easy to support guys like Rob (Amy and I are investors in THVF) who believe “that the US business community must pay greater attention to the opportunities and challenges of doing business in emerging markets if it will continue to thrive in the globalizing marketplace.”

Rob pointed me to an article in the Washington Post by Carol Pineau titled “The Africa You Never See” which asserts that Africa’s media image – which is filled with stories about hardship, AIDS, war, genocide, poverty, and corruption – does the people of Africa a major disservice.  Pineau suggests that the side of Africa we see is a “one dimensional caricature of a complex continent.  Imagine is 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing and school shootings were all that the rest of the world knew about America.”  Pineau’s article is great – she argues that while the view of Africa the media presents gets us to “dig into our pockets or urge Congress to send more aid” she goes on to say that “no country or region ever developed thanks to aid alone.  Investment, and the job and wealth creation it generates, is the only road to lasting development.  That’s how China, India and the Asian Tigers did it.”

Rob recently attended the IFC Annual Conference on Global Private Equity in DC. The IFC’s top delegate, Executive Vice President Assad Jabre, said in his remarks that he’d like the global private equity industry to focus on two areas in the coming years:  (i) Africa and (ii) equity investments in the range of $50,000 – $500,000.  Thousand Hills Venture Fund is the only true for-profits venture fund anywhere in the world doing just that!

The venture capital that Rob and Antoine are doing is truly risk capital and far ahead of the curve.  Guys – you make me proud to be associated with you.

  • Dave Jilk

    Outside the developing world there is (at least one) additional risk beyond the usual market, team, etc.: political instability. Consequently, in such investing it seems critical to have political diversification, i.e., spread investments around DIFFERENT countries so that a coup or war in one does not necessarily affect all the others. Not something US VCs are used to thinking about…

  • As someone who has experience in dealing in both African businesses and microfinancing, the Thousand Hills Venture Fund is a ballsy venture.

    Small deals are a bitch, micro deals, a double bitch!

  • Kaburundi

    History or nature has tought us that after devastation or bad weather, there is always renewal or nice weather.

    Look out, Africa is the next big powerhouse.

    Initiatives such as TH Venture capital are the way to go.

    Can someone provide me with more info?

  • Take a look at Timbuktu Chronicles to a get a sense of what is happening in Africa from an entrepreneural,scientific and technological standpoint.

  • Venture Capital for Africa

    Catching up on my blog-reading after a b

  • You should change your type, the blue is nearly impossible to read.

  • In February 2008, I will be completing an internship with the Kigali Centre for Entrepreneurs. For anyone who’s interested in reading about what’s going on over there, or supporting my trip, you can read my blog:

  • Nshuti

    As a Rwandan who has been living in America for the last 18 years but closely following all developments at home, I thank you for making that distinction. Indeed most people do not think business, investments or profit when they hear Africa and I have been on a personal crusade out here to change that mind-set. I am on my way back home after years of never having been able to live inm y own country as a Tutsi. I could not be more proud of our President and the efforts by all citizens of Rwanda to choose the right path of reconcilitaion and a true re-generation. Thanks to all American investors willing to take the first step!

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