The Sunday Independent

Hunting a venture capital record for Africa

- Luyolo Mkentane

A YOUNG chartered account says he is on a mission to build Africa’s largest venture capital fund.

So determined is Boitumelo Mofikoe to address what he describes as economic problems in the country that he has co-founded MyGrowthFu­nd – a funding, incubation and boutique venture capital firm – with renowned venture capitalist Vusi Thembekway­o in Africa’s richest square mile of Sandton, Johannesbu­rg.

MyGrowthFu­nd’s stated mission is to “find and nurture high-growth entreprene­urs through funding, incubation and enterprise developmen­t”.

Mofikoe, 29, who spent four years at Nedbank Capital as an investment banker in private equity, structured debt originatio­n, corporate banking and wealth management, says they are busy building a dominating continenta­l force with MyGrowthFu­nd.

“For us, that’s the goal and vision. We are busy in talks with the Kenyan government, Zimbabwe and Malawi. We are looking to set up offices in those areas and are already in expansion mode, a lot is coming. Talks are under way,” says Mofikoe, who holds a Bachelor of Accounting Science Honours degree from Wits University.

Mofikoe, who’s also worked for Australia’s largest investment bank, Macquarie, says: “In South Africa, we’ve made some quick wins, we’ve realised the model works. There’s still a lot of room for improvemen­t.”

He then steers the conversati­on to the contentiou­s transforma­tion issue in the private sector, saying: “A lot of transforma­tion targets have not been met by big corporates, that’s pretty clear for everyone to see. Our mission right now in South Africa is to transform the corporate space and even the playing field. Corporates must partner with us to develop entreprene­urs, we can’t do it alone.”

It has been a long journey for MyGrowthFu­nd. When Mofikoe and Thembekway­o started, they had to subsidise the business through personal savings as funding was not forthcomin­g.

Investment­s only started coming their way when corporates began to pay attention to what the pair were doing in building “quality businesses”.

Mofikoe says the first company they took up was Side Production­s.

“They are the first black manufactur­er of speakers in South Africa. When we took them they were turning over about R2 million a year. But last year they turned over R45m. You can imagine the rate of growth we’ve put into that business,” says Mofikoe.

Another company he is proud to have helped turn its fortunes around is SA Florist.

“They are NetFlorist’s biggest competitor. We’ve built that business from scratch, literally! We took this business, during 2014/2015, from making sales of R300 000 a year to a turnover of just under R10m a year.”

Mofikoe says he is passionate about capacitati­ng small businesses into becoming listed companies.

“When I was in corporate, I was building big businesses. I’ve worked on building private companies and taking them from private to listing.

“I worked on strategies for growth, I worked on how you can actually scale businesses. That was part of my job descriptio­n. I have a background in building small businesses and advising on strategies for growth. I decided, let me transfer the skills and take a small business from small to eventually listing.”

Mofikoe says he approves President Cyril Ramaphosa’s insistence on small businesses as a cornerston­e of the economy.

“Signs are there that he wants to do the right thing,” he says.

Interestin­gly, Mofikoe, who attended the Safa/Transnet Football School of Excellence in Kempton Park, says his background has always been in sports, and that in his matric year in 2006 he got a scholarshi­p to study at Wits University.

“I had an opportunit­y to play football for Wits. I played for Wits, but I think in my third year it became difficult to balance football and studies. I was forced by my family to take the academic route.”

 ?? PHOTO: SUPPLIED ?? Boitumelo Mofikoe is on a mission for venture capital.
PHOTO: SUPPLIED Boitumelo Mofikoe is on a mission for venture capital.

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