Announcing launch of fully virtual second cycle of VC4A’s Mentor-Driven Capital program in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia

COVID-19 is forcing everyone to find new ways of working. In VC4A’s Mentor-Driven Capital program, powered by SAIS, it’s no different. We are therefore launching a virtual edition VC4A’s Mentor-Driven Capital (MDC) program in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia as we believe mentorship is maybe more essential than ever before in these challenging and uncertain times for early-stage businesses.

While a virtual program means we won’t be able to have the physical face-to-face interactions and networking, a valuable element to any program, we are ready to try something new. Much of what we do at VC4A is happening online, and luckily (mobile) internet connections around the continent’s capitals are now fast and often reliable. So now is the time to shape a new program format that trains and connects mentors. The global pandemic is not only a monstrous challenge and risk, but it’s also an opportunity to experiment. 

The global pandemic is not only a monstrous challenge and risk, but it’s also an opportunity to experiment. 

As in the first cycle of the program set to end early June, VC4A is collaborating with country partners to identify and recruit both mentors and startup founders. In South Africa, our partners are  mLab Southern Africa and Jozi Angels, in Botswana, it’s  Botswana Innovation Hub and the newly formed Angel Investors Botswana (AIB), and in Zambia, it’s  BongoHive. VC4A and partners will  virtually coach mentors on how to best leverage their knowledge, expertise and networks to mentor startup founders. Next to this, local experts on angel investing and corporate partnership building will share their insights with the mentors. Startup founders and mentors will also become certified when they complete assigned courses from the VC4A Academy.

Mentoring in Botswana

First one-on-one meeting between a mentor and startup founder in Gaborone, February 2020. Photo: VC4A.

Cycle 1 testimonies

In the first cycle of the program – where mentors and founders are still busy in their mentoring relationships – 41 mentors and 41 startup founders were onboarded and trained. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and some of the feedback from mentors and startup founders include:

“Very inspired. Bright intellectual and intelligent young entrepreneurs with excellent ideas solving needs with the country. Very enthusiastic.”  – mentor, Johannesburg

With regard to what was the most valuable about mentor camp 1: “The lessons about what a mentor has to focus on to better aid entrepreneurs. The opportunity to speak to a fresh set of entrepreneurs in the ecosystem.”  – mentor, Gaborone

“Listening to the wide experience of all involved. You certainly managed to bring together a group of very interesting and inspiring people. Meeting my mentor was equally special.”  – founder, Johannesburg

“The group (mentoring) discussion was best for me. I joined the fundraising session and it was quite interactive and I was very attentive to get as much content as possible.”  – founder, Lusaka 

Give back and become a mentor 

We look forward to kicking off cycle 2 in June 2020 with a new cohort in each country. Are you based in/around Johannesburg, Gaborone and Lusaka want to hone your mentoring skills while sharing your time and expertise with a startup founder?  Apply to the program using the relevant link below. Time is ticking away and application windows close soon!

Click to apply to: Johannesburg virtual Mentor-Driven Capital program

Click to apply to: Gaborone virtual Mentor-Driven Capital program

Click to apply to: Lusaka virtual Mentor-Driven Capital program

Powered by Finland’s Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS)

Next to in-country partners, VC4A is working alongside Impact Amplifier to carry out the SAIS-powered MDC program. ‘SAIS 2’ is a regional initiative that supports the growth of new businesses by strengthening innovation ecosystems and promoting cross-border collaboration between innovative roleplayers in Southern Africa.

For any questions, please contact Melissa Ruggles: melissa [at]