The Trajectory: Africa

This conversation with Africa-focused investor Barbara Iyayi takes a bird’s eye view of fintech as a cross-cutting enabler and investment opportunity, digging into how it will turbocharge Africa’s digital economy by digitizing the everyday transactions of consumers and businesses. It also tackles how Barbara conquered the challenges she faced while raising a fund as an African, female, first time GP, and how LPs can overestimate the risk of investing in emerging fund managers and African venture capital.

Show Notes

Barbara Iyayi is an entrepreneur and investor with over 16 years of experience in venture capital, growth equity, and financial services. She has founded, invested in, scaled and advised, fintech and financial services companies globally. Currently, Barbara is the CEO & Founding Partner of Unicorn Growth Capital, an early-stage VC firm investing in the future of fintech. She also sits on the board of the World Wide Web Foundation.

Prior to launching Unicorn, she was the Chief Growth Officer and Managing Director for Africa of Element, a pioneer of mobile deep learning, and served as the Board Chair of Appzone, a fintech infrastructure platform enabling the delivery of digital financial services in Africa. Barbara was a member of the founding team of Atlas Mara, Africa’s first SPAC, and conducted $15 billion in global transactions for JPMorgan and UBS. Barbara received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Columbia University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

In this episode, we discuss:
  • Why Barbara believes that African fintech is a lucrative investment opportunity 
  • How fintech will help digitize the transactions of Africa's consumers and businesses, and catalyze its digital economy 
  • How Barbara leveraged her understanding of the fintech opportunity to overcome bias and raise her first fund
  • What LPs get wrong about investing in new fund managers and African venture 

Barbara’s Recommended Track & Featured Resources:
DJ Saphir’s Spotify Playlist:

What is The Trajectory: Africa?

The Trajectory Africa is a “pop-up” podcast exploring the trajectory, or pathway, of venture capital and startup formation in Africa. With the unique African landscape—market characteristics, business environment, goals, and culture—as a starting point, The Trajectory Africa aims to identify a destination for African tech, as well as the sign posts that signal direction of travel. It’s modeled on the concept of a mixtape, in which each episode, or “track” will feature a conversation with a “guest artist”, and a playlist for inspiration.