BY TOM JACKSON
The son of a Ghanaian father and a Slovakian mother, Mike Mompi lived in each country briefly in his adolescent years before spending most of his youth and studies in California. Yet he always seemed destined for an international lifestyle.
“I have lived and worked across four continents, partially driven by my insatiable curiosity for new cultures and the unique human experiences shaped by the world in which we live, and also driven by my exploration of my identity, my purpose, and my passion,” he told Disrupt Africa.
First as an entrepreneur in university, and then straight into public equity investment, Mompi became acutely aware of the power of finance and business to shape the world around us – both for the better, and for the worse.
“Upon seeing the potential of technology and commercial solutions applied to solving large and meaningful problems, I raised angel investment for an educational fintech product I designed and built with an early Y Combinator alum in London, which is where I was first exposed to the massive potential and power of startups to solve problems at scale. Amongst other things I went on to build a venture-backed impact investment bank with colleagues that was focused on transaction advisory and working with asset owners to allocate assets across startups in line with the values that early-stage investors held,” he said.
Through this experience Mompi made his first angel investment in a Ghanaian business, which he described as a “personal breakthrough”.
“There was nothing else I could imagine doing with my time, and nowhere else I could imagine focusing,” he said. “This was the moment I knew that all of my passion, insights, shared values and unique life experiences would be aligned by investing in businesses across Africa solving large and meaningful problems.”
After a job in venture capital at the Global Innovation Fund in London, he moved to Nairobi and worked with partners John Lazar and David Cohen to design, build, and launch Enza Capital.
“Enza Capital blossomed from a series of experiences, insights, conversations, and conviction,” Mompi said.
“In the early days we decided to build Enza Capital as if we were building a startup, focused, head down, iterating, learning, and building as we fly – this has led to an organisation which has balanced entrepreneurial agility with formal institutionality, and which went from concept to fully-structured fund and first investment in our first 100 days.”
Since its formal launch in May 2019, Enza has invested in 15 startups across Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda. It is a multi-stage investor, investing from “first-money into team” (Shara, Autochek, Money254) through seed and Series A (Quro Medical, Cloudline, Safi Analytics, SeamlessHR), through to Series B (Sendy and Tugende).
“Our core thesis revolves around founders and teams using technology to solve large and meaningful problems across Sub-Saharan Africa – the sectors in which we focus are logistics, fintech, health, human capital management, and climate smart solutions,” Mompi said.
Enza Capital is an “active and engaged investor”.
“Though we do not mandate the same level of involvement in each company we partner with, our preference and tendency is to develop a long term and trusted relationship with management and to be supportive of company leadership. We take board seats and observer seats where we lead investments and where we can add strategic value and support on governance,” said Mompi.
“We have rebuilt financial models, supported on recruitment and business development, brought in industry experts to support portfolio companies, and we have significant capacity to follow-on our first check of up to US$10 million per company. Importantly, we’re a long-term partner and an active supporter.”
In order to demystify venture capital, upskill talent for the broader ecosystem, and bring new perspectives into Enza Capital, the firm has also developed a Venture Fellowship programme with 13 fellows, and launched an Entrepreneur-in-Residence programme.
Essentially, then, Enza is a long-term investor that is “deeply aligned” with founders, the company, and the broader group of stakeholders that portfolio companies serve.
“We work with companies as partners and we acknowledge that the only reason we can do our job is because of the exceptional founders and teams doing theirs,” Mompi said.
Mompi is passionate about what he calls the “African Renaissance” and links the opportunity today in part to the challenges over the past few centuries. “From around the 16th Century, since the times of thriving African Empires such as the Malian and Songhai Empires, the African continent has been pillaged of its culture, its resources, and its people. To this day, the vast majority of the world still has a warped perception of the African continent, misunderstands the nuances of the risks and opportunities, and more importantly underestimates the potential of our people,” he said.
“With this challenging context comes an opportunity, in its own small way, to work with investors and entrepreneurs across the continent to change this narrative and seize the opportunity. Mobile phone and internet penetration are skyrocketing, data costs are falling, and access to high-quality information and education is increasingly democratised. We are on the cusp of African Renaissance, in part driven by technology. We have conviction that the African people shall overcome the current challenges confronting the continent and achieve cultural, scientific, and economic renewal, and thrive – Enza Capital is going to play our small part.”