African tech ecosystem mourns the death of Nnena Nkongho, an African investor who championed diversity and brilliance. Nkongho died recently on December 26, 2021.
Nkongho had more than 15 years of expertise recognizing, creating, and collecting value for African enterprises and funds. She is the founding partner of Otundi Ventures, a pan-African early-stage fund.
She was also a founding investor in Digital Growth Africa (DiGAME), one of Africa’s earliest (2016) institutional venture investing organisations, which has invested about $35 million in series A/B rounds of high-growth, tech-enabled businesses such as Getsmarter (which was acquired by 2U, Inc.), SWVL, 10X Investments, and Rhino Safaris Africa.
Nnena Nkongho was a founding member of Nubuke Investments, a $75 million multi-strategy pan-African fund, prior to that.
Outside of investing, she worked as the Head of Business Development for SOLO Phone Nigeria and the Head of Strategy & Business Development for Etisalat Nigeria for a short time.
She worked for 7 years at global financial services firms Morgan Stanley (New York and Hong Kong) and Merrill Lynch (London) earlier in her career.
Nkongho was a Kauffman Fellow with a B.A. from Princeton University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Nkongho grew up in the United States as a Nigerian-American, with visits to Nigeria on occasions, mainly to see her grandmother in eastern Nigeria. These visits opened her eyes to the transformation taking place in Africa, prompting her to change her career path to work in the African investment space.
She revealed why she enthusiastically supports the African digital ecosystem in an interview, as a firm believer in the power of technology.
“In eastern Nigeria, my grandmother was a farmer, but not a particularly [successful] one. She would get up at dawn to go fetch water. She’d then carry large containers of water on her head to her small plot of land’s rocky soil. I’ve watched technology transform the lives of smallholder farmers like my grandmother over the last five years.”
“Businesses have used the mobile platform to deliver value-added services such as providing financing for better seeds, autonomously irrigating land, and finding better marketplaces (and pricing) for produced goods, among other things. Technology-enabled investing has the potential to change people’s lives. That, to me, is the most powerful thing you can do.”
The African and global tech communities mourns the loss of a colleague, friend, peer, and mentor.