Home » Led by Cindy Ai and Mark Kleyner, Dream VC moves to democratize access to African VC space

Led by Cindy Ai and Mark Kleyner, Dream VC moves to democratize access to African VC space

by Omokolade Ajayi

Dream VC, an investor accelerator and community-driven educational platform founded by Cindy Ai and Mark Kleyner, is set to embark on a massive expansion with programs aimed at engaging, teaching and upskilling a much larger untapped investor talent pool across Africa in 2022.

The move, which aligns with the firm’s plans to become “the go-to launchpad for aspiring investors in Africa,” comes nearly a year after it launched its four-month-long flagship fellowship program in 2021, which was dedicated to providing knowledge and more access to traditionally underrepresented individuals in the African venture capital space.

Its 2022 fellowship program, which will include two programs designed for almost everyone from all walks of life – Launch Into VC and Investor Accelerator – will run from June to September and June to October, respectively, with a focus on helping passionate individuals gain the knowledge, experience and networks required to get started in VC or secure top roles at VC funds in Africa.

Ai and Kleyner, entrepreneurs and early-stage investors, founded Dream VC in 2021 to serve as an investor accelerator and community-driven educational platform that provides rigorous remote programs centered on VC across Africa’s startup ecosystems.

While using their extensive expertise in the VC business in the UK, United States, Europe and Africa, the co-founders actively advise, train and mentor numerous early-stage West and East African firms that have gone on to raise more than $10 million in venture financing.

Their decision to build African tech ecosystems and catalyze the continent’s investing talent pipeline runs hand-in-hand with the strong growth in tech adoption in the region and the fast-paced growth of Africa’s VC industry, which has completed approximately 681 rounds of fundraising, bringing in a total of $5.2 billion in equity, with an additional $800 million in debt.

Ai explained that despite the impressive growth in the VC industry, most people do not investigate the sources of funding and do not consider investment changes at a systemic level.

“The majority, 95 percent of working professionals, operators, and wealth owners across the continent and in the diaspora are not exposed to the startup ecosystems across Africa. And we’re keen to change that,” she explained.

More than 90 percent of the fellows who graduated from Dream VC’s inaugural program in 2021 went on to work in VC, with some joining new and established firms such as Ajim Capital, Akribos Capital and LoftyInc Wennovate, while others are busy writing checks as angels or establishing syndicates and funds in emerging ecosystems like Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire and Rwanda.

Meanwhile, Kleyner said there are so many passionate individuals on the continent who want to help startups thrive and can bring their expertise to bear. He also stated that most of them are completely disconnected from the VC sector, and it is critical for Dream VC to bridge this gap.

Applications for its 2022 programs will open on March 8 and be accepted on a rolling basis until the final deadline on May 1 at 11:59 PM (GMT).

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