SMEs: supporting small businesses

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SMEs: supporting small businesses

SMEs: supporting small businesses

About the speakers
  • Pauline Koelbl
    Pauline Koelbl
    Founder & Managing Partner at ShEquity
    ShEquity ShEquity’s Founder & Managing Partner, Pauline is an impact investor and a leading innova=on expert in developing & emerging economies, currently focusing on addressing the gender funding gap in Africa and accelera=ng the achievement of SDGs. ShEquity is catalyzing Africa's inclusive growth by inves=ng in early-stage, impacIul, innova=ve, and scalable women-led businesses in SubSahara Africa. ShEquity investment strategy includes building a pool of investment ready pipeline made of womenled and owned businesses, through its own accelerator, SHEBA (ShEquity Business Accelerator). Pauline is a double Fulbright and serves on different Boards connected to impact driven organiza=ons and businesses. Recently, Pauline was recognized as one of 100 Leaders building Meaningful Business, combining profit and purpose to help achieve the UN SDGs
  • Atsuko Toda
    Atsuko Toda
    Senior Director, Entrepreneurship Development, Pan-African Programs at Mastercard Foundation
    Atsuko is a seasoned development sector professional with over 24 years of experience with international institutions across Africa and Asia. Prior to joining the Mastercard Foundation, she was the Director of the Agriculture Finance and Rural Infrastructure at the African Development Bank Group (ADB) for over six years. Her mandate was to lead the Bank’s effort to mobilize and invest in private sector agribusinesses working in rural areas to transform agricultural value chains and support rural development. She was responsible for the Bank’s investments in private sector agribusiness companies, mainstreaming disaster risk finance, innovative finance for agri-SMEs and development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones across the continent. Before joining ADB, Atsuko worked at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with a focus on rural development projects, managing country programs in Vietnam, Laos and Nepal. From 2012-2016, Atsuko served as IFAD Nigeria Country Director, where she was credited for more than doubling the organization’s portfolio in rural communities. Atsuko brings extensive experience in managing in diverse cultural working environments and building client-oriented, highly motivated, performance-driven teams.
  • Tamim El Zein
    Tamim El Zein
    General Partner at Seedstars Africa Ventures
    Tamim is a co-founder of Seedstars Africa Ventures, an early-stage fund leading investment rounds in pre-series A and series A startups across the continent, with large follow-on capacity. In addition to capital, Seedstars Africa Ventures brings significant hands-on operational resources to support entrepreneurs on the ground, leveraging existing networks and operations in 25 African countries. Before co-founding Seedstars Africa Ventures, Tamim has been himself an entrepreneur in Africa and has experienced firsthand the difficulties in the operational setup and financial distress entrepreneurs face on the Continent. Tamim is an entrepreneur at heart, having also been the COO of a high growth tech startup in Europe, and he has been on both sides of the table, having led VC and M&A deals as an investor. Tamim started his career as a strategy consultant in the innovation and telco industries, working mostly in the Middle-East and Africa region before joining the strategy team of the world leader in B2B payment and authentication solutions, including in Africa. Tamim regularly serves as an advisor and mentor to startups.
  • Brendan J. Mullen
    Brendan J. Mullen
    Co-Founder & Managing Director at Secha Capital
    Brendan J. Mullen is a co-founder and Managing Director of Secha Capital, an early-stage impact private equity firm in Southern Africa. Secha started in 2017. Its first fund invested in ten South African companies, creating 200+ jobs with an average revenue growth of 12x. Its second fund scales its Operator-Investor model at $50M. It focuses on growth equity investments into established Southern Africa SMEs in large, ignored "boring" sectors. Secha Capital II announced a first close in June 2021 and has made three investments since then. Brendan was previously a consultant with Bain & Company in its Johannesburg office. Previous to Bain, Brendan worked as a Venture Fellow at SJF Ventures. He spent five years as a bond analyst at Putnam Investments and holds an MBA from Duke University.

Key takeaways