BY: AMANDA JACOBSON We founded Village Capital in 2009 with the goal to democratize entrepreneurship. The core thesis: entrepreneurs who are building businesses just may be the best equipped to decide who receives early-stage investments. We have always believed that by investing in companies through peer review, we can build a more equitable, inclusive, and efficient investment strategy for the entrepreneurs of the future.
Over the past five years, we have invested more than $2 million through peer review, and our entrepreneurs have validated this thesis by creating 7,000 jobs and raising $50 million in follow-on capital—and with 93% of our companies growing and thriving, we’re just getting started.
We’re excited to have announced during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi earlier this year that we had raised $13.2 million in commitments to VilCap Investments, a new investment vehicle that aims to make 100 investments in 75 peer-selected companies globally over the life of the fund.
The progress we’ve been able to make is only due to the exceptional entrepreneurs we’ve been able to support everywhere, a few of whom include:
• Spensa Technologies provides a hardware device and data management system that helps farmers around the world manage pests, reduce pesticide inputs and increase crop yield;
• Simpa Networks uses a pay-as-you go technology to bring power to off-grid homes, providing energy to nearly 60,000 people.
• SevaMob is a telemedicine solution that enables “pop-up” health clinics in India, helping 25,000 people in its pilot year get access to health care in India and Africa.
We’re excited to have announced the partnership at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit alongside the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where we have partnered with the Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative. The PACE initiative is aimed at catalyzing private-sector investment into early-stage enterprises in developing countries.
PACE’s innovative structure is helping us resource our outstanding team to manage investments in areas of the world that are not traditional hotbeds—like Nairobi and Mexico City—while keeping the economics of the fund such that we can create an attractive investment opportunity for mainstream investors.
VilCap Investments’ democratized process enables opportunities for entrepreneurs everywhere: For example: while 75% of venture investments go to three US states (California, Massachusetts, and New York), 88% of Village Capital’s investments support entrepreneurs in the rest of the world. And while 8% of traditional venture investments go to teams with women co-founders, 30% of Village Capital’s portfolio companies have female founders. For us, this was not prescriptive—when entrepreneurs have control over the resources of the future, the process creates a level playing field for all.
Changing the way we make investments, we believe, ultimately changes the opportunities that entrepreneurs have to positively impact the world. While we have a long way to go, we are excited to recognize this milestone and look forward to the work ahead.