Pariti launches first ever VC Fellowship

September 8, 2023
Wossen Ayele

Pariti launches first ever VC Fellowship

NAIROBI, KENYA (April 11, 2021) - Pariti has launched a new VC Fellowship designed to develop the next generation of VC investors in emerging markes. The Fellowship is a 3-6 month program that gives future investors exposure to VC through hands-on experience evaluating companies, introduction to the fundamentals of the VC industry and curated access to investors from top venture capital funds, in emerging markets and in the US.

“We launched this program to support the next generation of investors and to give them the tools to get their foot in the door of the industry,” says Wossen Ayele, co-founder and COO. “The venture capital industry is is still a relatively competitive and opaque industry where it’s difficult to get a job unless you have a strong network. It’s very competitive with far more aspiring VCs than there are open roles.”

This issue, unsurprisingly, has contributed to the lack of diversity in the industry. In the U.S., 70% of venture capital investors are male and only 4% are either Black or Latino. In addition to that, the same research shows that 40% of investors went to either Stanford or Harvard. This lack of diversity is even more pronounced at the GP and fund manager levels.

This lack of diversity among investors also contributes to the stark inequities across which founders do get their companies funded. In 2020, Crunchbase found that only 2.3% of venture funding in the U.S. went to startups with Black or Latino founders.

In response to these dismal numbers, there have been a number of programs designed to increase pipeline of diverse investors and to increase the funding going to Black and Latino founders. Programs like the Kauffman Fellowship, Diversity VC and others have doubled down on supporting the new crop of emerging venture capital investors. The Pariti VC Fellowship is different in its focus on hands-on experience reviewing live deals for investors and is complementary to other programs which offer a more curriculum-based training. The Pariti offering is more like an internship whereas the other programs are structured similar to school.

In addition to this difference in approach, the Pariti offering is focused on companies in emerging markets (starting with Africa). The Pariti VC Fellows review African startups for investors, reviewing each company across 4 areas: market (e.g. size of market, structure of market), solution (e.g. problem-solution fit, scalability), economics (e.g. unit economics, business model) and team (e.g. experience, capabilities). The Fellows also have the opportunity to support mentor the founders who that opt into Pariti’s services.

“We want to build up the pipeline of investors who have empathy and experience evaluating early stage companies in emerging markets. Our belief is that by training the next generation of investors in this way, investors will be better equipped to support startups and uplifting the whole ecosystem,” says Yacob Berhane, Pariti’s CEO. “We’ve hand-selected our VC Fellows so that our first cohort has a range of experiences; from operations in startups, to finance and consulting and expertise in the different sectors where we are seeing the most activity.” Of the 20 fellows, 16 are currently enrolled in graduate courses, 15 are people of color and 7 are women. Collectively, the fellows have work experience in Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US and have experience in technology, finance, consulting, investing, CPG, energy, education and health care.  

“By having such a diverse group, we are better able to support the founders that we serve. As we evaluate the startups that go through the Pariti platform, we match them to a fellow based on the fellow’s skillset and the needs of the startup. That way, we are able help founders with their most pressing needs,” says Berhane. “Our goal is to help position our fellows for a career in venture capital. Our deeper intention though is to make early-stage ecosystems in emerging markets healthier. And to us, that means making sure that the next generation of investors is well-equipped with the right set of skills and understanding to help founders build category-defining companies of the future.”