Dream VC is an investor accelerator offering training on and access to the venture capital space in Africa

Leonard Sengere Avatar

We have seen startups in the United States start out humbly in garages and end up with billion dollar valuations, even trillions in some cases. What we had there were visionary founders who had literal ‘billion dollar ideas’ but did not have the means to make the dream a reality. Someone had to chip in with the funds.

These high-risk-high-reward startups were a little too out there for banks and so a different kind of organisation had to step up. Angel investors and venture capitalists rose to the occasion, funding the risky startups and often reaping ridiculously well for their efforts.

These funders/investors soon cast their eyes outside the USA. Now we find ourselves in a situation where most of the funding to African startups comes from the States and Europe. This means when said African startups thrive, much of the reward leaves the continent to further fill up the coffers of these foreign investors to start over again.

This state of affairs also leads to the concerning stat that since 2012, 70% of total investment into fintech has gone to companies without black founders. Black people, especially Africans are not involved in funding their own startups. In the first 2 months of 2022, tech startups in Africa have raised over US$1 billion and I’m sure we will found out that the funding is coming from the same old sources and going to the same kind of startups.

One solution could be to coerce investors into looking at black founded startups but that would be stupid. The other solution would be to demystify venture capital and angel investing to get more Africans into the space. That is what Dream VC is doing, training Africans on how to get involved in this space.

Dream VC Returns in Force to Democratize Knowledge and Access to the Venture Capital Space in Africa

Dream VC is an investor accelerator and community-driven educational platform providing rigorous remote programs centred specifically around venture capital across Africa’s startup ecosystems. Their educational programs help passionate individuals get the knowledge, the experience and the network they need to get started in Venture Capital or land top roles at VC funds around Africa.

After launching a small scale programme in 2021, they are now back, at a much larger scale, and with success to show for their efforts. More than 90% of the fellows who graduated from the inaugural programme went on break into venture capital; with some joining new and established firms such as Ajim Capital, Akribos Capital, LoftyInc Wennovate, Oui Capital, and Lateral Capital – while others are busy writing checks as angels or setting up their own syndicates and funds in emerging ecosystems like Mozambique, Côte D’Ivoire, Rwanda, and others.

Now, Dream VC is running a massive expansion with their 2022 programs and is keen to engage, educate and upskill a much larger untapped investor talent pool, hoping to become ‘The Go-To Launchpad For Aspiring Investors in Africa’. This year they are running 2 programs equipped with an impressive 500h+ of content and more than triple the contact hours fellows get with the Dream VC staff. 

The 2022 programs are set to run from June to September (for the “Launch into Venture Capital“) and from June to October (for the “Investor Accelerator“) programs. The first is a foundational VC fellowship for young working professionals keen on pipelining into entry-level positions in VC or other investment firms. At the same time, the latter is geared towards experienced professionals [with a significant operator, entrepreneurial, or advisory background] who have the capital and network to pivot into an ecosystem-building VC career.

The last few years have seen exponential growth in entrepreneurial adoption. This is only further enabled by rapid increases in the publicity of startups and startup founders – but the investment world has dragged behind. Even as funding has increased, most of this has been concentrated in select deals (48% of total funding for startups in Africa went to just 12 companies), and over 50% of investors are international.

“People are saying entrepreneurship can help to catapult countries across the continent into digital transformation, but this simply cannot happen without an equivalent level of support from the private capital sector,” adds Mark Kleyner, Dream VC’s Co-Founder and programme Director.

This is where Dream VC see themselves plugging in, teaching fellows across both programs with an immersive 0 to 100 knowledge acceleration about the VC space, covering everything from Deal Sourcing and Due Diligence to the varied ways VCs can add value and support companies throughout their investment, exploring complicated topics like Syndication, Angel and VC investments and even the legalities of setting up VC Funds or Angel Groups to invest in African startups.

While international interest is now putting African startups in the spotlight, there are still very few support systems for aspiring local investors and opportunities for working professionals to break into VC on the continent. Dream VC exists to change this and has ambitious plans to enable the next wave of aspiring investors by building the communities, the educational infrastructure, and the environment to thrive and add maximum value to startups in multiple African startup ecosystems.

“At the end of the day, working in countries like Nigeria or Kenya, founders across the continent often are faced with major obstacles – and there is still a lot that must change about perceptions of investing or building startups in Africa. Investors need to be much more hands-on and add a lot more value than just money to build sustainable, scalable businesses. And this can’t be done without including and enabling local leaders to be more active in the VC space,” remarks Cindy Ai, the other Co-Founder and programmeDirector of Dream VC. “We aren’t just accelerating a new wave of check-writers. We are catalysing the next generation of African ecosystem builders.”

Applications for both programs go live on March 8th and will be processed on a rolling basis until the final deadline on May 1st 2022, at 11:59 pm GMT. The Launch into Venture Capital Fellowship specifically also has an Early Bird Deadline on April 1st, 2022, at 11:59 pm GMT in addition to the final deadline on May 1st. Interested applicants can find more about both programme applications here.

The programs are expected to be extremely competitive, so prospective fellows are highly encouraged to apply early. Although Dream VC’s core programs are paid, several generous scholarships are available, so highly motivated applicants in need of financial support are still strongly encouraged to apply.

Above: Dream VC Co-Founders Cindy Ai and Mark Kleyner are active ecosystem builders, advisors and investors in African startups. Source: Dream VC.

In summary

What does Dream VC do?

They run intensive remote programs teaching and training professionals to work in or excel in the Venture Capital Industry in Africa.

What is the success story?

Post program successes for fellows have seen them joining new and established firms such as Ajim Capital, Akribos Capital, LoftyInc Wennovate, Oui Capital, and Lateral Capital – while others are busy writing checks as angels or setting up their own syndicates and funds

What programs are they running this year?

Launch into Venture Capital (LIVC): https://www.dream-vc.com/2022-launch-into-vc 

Investor Accelerator: https://www.dream-vc.com/2022-investor-accelerator

When is this happening?

Applications open on March 8th and Close on May 1st. Both programs will run in Summer & Autumn. LIVC (14 weeks): June to September. Investor Accelerator (20 weeks): June to October.