Inside The Bill Gates-Backed Accelerator That’s Training The Next Generation Of Venture Capitalists
The following is an excerpt from Lauren Gensler | June 16, 2016 | Forbes.com |
In an airy converted furniture store in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, five novice impact fund managers from Zimbabwe, Guatemala and the Netherlands are rehearsing the sales pitches they’ll make the next day to 60 mostly institutional investors, representing $10 billion in capital.
The presentations will be a graduation ceremony of sorts. Despite their impressive résumés, the five men have just completed a four-week boot camp covering everything from term sheets, accounting and mezzanine debt structures to dealing with corruption to defining and marketing their brands. They’ll head home with golden contacts (investor cocktail hours were built into the packed schedule) and a commitment for up to $500,000 in seed capital from Capria Accelerator, a first-of-its-kind venture whose initial investors include Microsoft cofounder (and world’s richest man) Bill Gates.
One of those rehearsing is Patrick Makanza, 51, an M.B.A. and veteran of Unilever and Barclays Bank who quit a cushy job at a top Zimbabwe private equity firm and launched Vakayi Capital. The first fund being formed by Vakayi (which means “to build”) will back for-profit businesses providing essential services in Zimbabwe, which has per capita gross domestic product of about $1,000. That fund will make loans (with an option to convert some to equity) for an average of four years to small and medium-size businesses that want to expand and can’t get adequate bank financing. Among potential investments: an eye clinic that’s building a new operating room so it can double its daily procedures and bring down the cost of cataract surgery; an education microlender; and a builder of low-cost housing.
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