MDC Africa 2023: celebrating women, driving impact through mentorship

As part of VC4A’s approach to creating value for startup ecosystems around the world, VC4A opened a call for applications on January 9th, 2023, for female business professionals, serial entrepreneurs, and (angel) investors to participate in the Mentor Driven Capital program. This edition is unique to me for many reasons, and I’ll list a few below. First, I’d like to introduce myself; My name is Barbara Onyejose and I am the Mentorship and Academy Lead at VC4A. Back to our list:

  • The call for applications for MDC Africa 2023 was opened on the 9th of January;
  • I resumed my role at VC4A on the 9th of January;
  • This was the first Women-focused edition of the MDC program;
  • The program was implemented in March as part of our dedication to celebrating women.

Starting a new role combined with leading the first women-focused edition of MDC Africa comes with its own challenges: I was inspired to see the number of women who wanted to learn more about mentorship and how they could give back to their startup communities through sharing their experiences and networks. The main criteria for selection was years of experience and level of expertise, combined with a deeper focus on women who demonstrated an interest in starting mentorship relationships, building impactful mentorship relationships or transitioning into angel investment. From over 200 applicants, a cohort of 33 mentors was selected to participate.

virtual meeting of women mentors

The first women-focused edition of the VC4A Mentor-Driven Capital Africa Program (2023)

‘Mentor-driven capital’ (MDC) is one of VC4A’s approaches to creating value for startup ecosystems around the world. The goal behind the pan-African program is to empower aspiring and existing business mentors with the knowledge and tools they need to better support promising startup founders to successfully grow their companies to the next stage. The shortlisted women from diverse career and business backgrounds were selected to participate in the 6-week virtual program.

The MDC Africa 2023 program comprised 3 expert sessions from seasoned mentors, business professionals and an alumni session where ‘alumni mentors’ from previous MDC cohorts shared their mentorship experiences and lessons learned.

The mentors were also given the VC4A Mentor Guide that contains templates, guidelines and best practices on how to be a professional startup mentor and structure a successful mentorship relationship. 

Headshot of Inemesit Dike

Inemesit Dike said “I’ve been in the mentoring space for a while but this program helped me validate the Mentorship structure. I really like the clarity that this program has given me.”

– Mentee feedback

Bright Asiimwe said “I’ve also been in the mentoring space for some time, the key learning was about setting clear expectations at the start of the mentoring journey but making sure that the Mentee takes responsibility for notetaking and working on their action plans within the expected timeframe. As a result of this program, I’m now thinking of becoming an Angel investor.”

Picture of Afoussat TraoreAfoussat Traore said “My main takeaways will be the importance of setting clear goals and boundaries, and not feeling forced to share one’s network/contacts if one isn’t comfortable doing so.”

– Mentee feedback

The program would not have been a success without our amazing experts Taiwo Judah-Ajayi, People Growth Executive at Dot, Maya Horgan Famodu, Founder of Ingressive Capital and Dr. Anino Emuwa, MD at Avandis Consulting and 100 Women @ Davos who shared from their wealth of knowledge as investors, mentors and business professionals themselves to deliver excellent sessions.

Picture of Obiajuru LuyaSpeaking about the influence from the experts, Obiajuru Luya said “One of the reasons I joined the program was to learn how to put structure to my mentoring relationships as they were growing in scope. The course taken and expert-led conversations as well as experiences shared with my fellow participants have provided me great insights and ways to navigate the space, I almost feel like a pro.”

VC4A may not be able to admit as many mentors as we would like into the MDC programs but VC4A offers a free self-paced Mentor Driven Capital course in the VC4A Startup Academy. The course is accessible to anyone interested in becoming a mentor, acquiring more knowledge about how to structure mentorship relationships for success or becoming an angel investor. You will also gain access to the VC4A Mentor Guide, which is a proven, valuable resource for mentors.

If you would like to become a mentor, you can create a profile for free on the VC4A Mentorship Marketplace where you can connect with founders from across Africa and Latin America. If you’re an entrepreneur and you would like to connect to a mentor, you can search for a mentor based on location and area of expertise.

We’d like to specially thank our outreach partners for the exceptional work in reaching the right mentors for this edition – Rising Tide Africa, ShEquity, Tiye Angels, Dazzle Angels, Impact Hub Abidjan, Betacube and Nairobi Business Angels among others.

The Mentor Driven Capital Program is powered by the Work in Progress! Alliance, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with Oxfam being the lead program implementer, including  ICEAlex, She Leads Africa, Innovate Ventures, and VC4A.