Tokunboh Ishmael is supporting African women founders overlooked in the startup world.
Ishmael is the co-founder of Alitheia IDF, “a pioneering gender-lens fund investing in scalable businesses to leverage the power of gender diversity as a factor for superior performance,” according to its website.
The early investor launched the fund in 2015 alongside fellow co-founder Polo Leteka. Today, the $100 million Alitheia IDF is “currently the biggest ‘gender-lens’ fund in Africa,” TechCrunch reports.
Prior to the feat, Ishmael has invested in companies in Africa for more than 20 years through her Nigeria-based private equity firm Alitheia Capital, founded in 2007.
Alitheia IDF provides businesses with funding, mentorship, strategic growth, and access to market and talent, according to Ishmael. What’s more, the fund focuses on businesses that have generated revenue and aim to expand into new markets.
As of this writing, Allithea IDF has invested in eight businesses: JetStream, ReelFruit, SweepSouth, Chikas, Skld, Psaltry, Wemy and Ivili Loboya.
While Alitheia IDF works to diversify capital and bring more women to the table, it has also created partnerships with men founders to work toward the bigger picture at hand.
“We are not just addressing the imbalance of funding to female founders, but also the imbalance of products and services to ensure that women can access them,” Ishmael explained to the outlet. “We want them to scale, and help inject gender consciousness into the founding teams, the management teams, the boards and the companies.”
As it inches closer to another milestone — 10 years since its launch — Ishmael shared that it will expand its outreach past the western and southern regions of Africa and into more regions within the continent.
“We will probably back 10 to 12 businesses with this fund,” she shared. “The $100 million just scratches the surface of the paucity of funding for female founders and companies that serve women. We anticipate that there will be other funds that will come along to further address and increase funding to these types of companies.”