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Who walks away from a $30-million startup? – Meet angel investor Lelemba Phiri

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Having scaled Zoona across the African continent, Lelemba Phiri now manages a R100-million gender-lens investing fund. She’s found the special balance many entrepreneurs and investors are looking for: generating profit while still creating an impact. It was at Zoona that she realised she can make an impact elsewhere and as such Lelemba has dedicated her work to empowering women entrepreneurs.

 In the latest Business Unusual Podcast we engage in conversation with Lelemba Phiri about how to attract investors, why she left a successful venture and how it’s possible to make an impact while making a profit. Lelemba shares her journey and explains why gender-lens investing is important.


Key takeaways from this podcast:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa has more women getting into entrepreneurship than men
  • Investing with your own money only can only go so far
  • Investors don’t want complicated language. Be clear, concise and specific when pitching to them
  • Your fund needs to have enough to able to survive
  • “Entrepreneurship can be very lonely”
  • You need to identify “needle-movers”
  • Pitching isn’t reserved for investors only, you also want to be able to attract strategic partners
  • If your pitch is interesting enough, they will ask for more details
  • More profitable business can create more impact
  • “Look for the visionary that’s in the space of what you are passionate about”
  • We need spaces where academics and businesses can work together


Lelemba Phiri is the Principal of the Africa Trust Group and Fund Manager for Enygma Ventures. She is a Director at Zoona and Startup Circles and is currently completing a PhD in gender-lens investing at GIBS. Lelemba has almost two decades of experience working with both the public and private sectors across sub-Saharan Africa. The award-winning angel investor is a certified chartered accountant in the UK and has appeared in various publications, including the Oprah magazine, and was a SABC 3 presenter on “The Power Within”, where she was the financial expert.



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