Aruwa Capital Management (Aruwa or Aruwa Capital) is pleased to announce the successful close of its first institutional fund. The oversubscribed fund surpassed its initial target of $20 million. Aruwa Capital is a Lagos-based female-founded/led early-stage growth equity and gender lens investment fund. The company was founded in 2019 by Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes to bridge the gender gap among capital allocators and to provide access to capital to female-led/focused businesses.

Adesuwa believes that the gender bias in access to capital for women could be addressed in Africa with more female capital allocators. Currently, she is the youngest solo general partner of a fund in Nigeria to successfully raise a $20m fund at 32 years old. She is focused on using Aruwa Capital as a case study to make the business case to invest in women as fund managers, entrepreneurs, consumers and stakeholders in society.

The Fund’s first institutional and anchor investor is Visa Foundation, followed by other investors such as Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund, Nyala Venture, backed by Financial Sector Deepening Africa Investments and leading family businesses from Africa, Europe and the United States.

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder, Aruwa Capital Management.
Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder, Aruwa Capital Management.

“Visa Foundation is pleased to be the first institutional investor in Aruwa Capital Management. We deeply believe that to address the financing gap that women-led small businesses face, we need to empower and invest in more women-led investment funds like Aruwa,” said Najada Kumbuli, Head of Investments, Visa Foundation. “We were impressed by Adesuwa’s track record and her approach to tailoring the Fund’s financing to the needs of small businesses. We believe the team’s deep commitment to driving equitable and inclusive economic growth through investments will meaningfully support the business owners and the communities they operate in.”

Women comprise 40% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. Yet, they receive only 1% of startup capital due to the lack of female capital allocators. Adesuwa is leveraging more than a decade of investment banking and private equity experience from leading global organisations such as J.P. Morgan to bridge the gender investment gap. With her skills and track record, she left the comforts of the six-figure salary job, to return home to Nigeria to make an impact and change the narrative for women and small businesses across Africa.

“We are excited to continue to showcase the untapped potential of women in society through our investment portfolio at Aruwa Capital. Global data has shown that investing with a gender lens improves financial returns as well as providing a multiplier effect for social impact in local communities due to the role women play, we look forward to showcasing this in Africa specifically,” noted Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder of Aruwa Capital Management. “We are also delighted to have been able to mobilise 30% of our Fund from local investors, who have a first-hand understanding of the operating terrain, as well as mobilising global capital from well-respected names, a trend we hope to see continue.”

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder, Aruwa Capital Management.
Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder, Aruwa Capital Management.

Aruwa Capital is focused on bridging the gap between the venture capital and private equity asset class through investments in sufficiently de-risked businesses. Businesses that are too small for the majority of the local private equity funds with larger funds but are ready to scale with between $1.0-2.5 million in growth capital. The Fund invests in scalable innovative businesses that provide essential goods and services to women, are founded or led by women or have gender-diverse teams. Since its inception, Aruwa Capital has made six investments, committing over 45% of its capital to a diversified portfolio of rapidly growing companies. It is renowned for rigorous investment selection and active hands-on support of management teams on the ground to improve company operations and performance.

Through its unique investment strategy, it aims to create more sustainable and scalable pathways for economic growth and inclusion in Africa. Aruwa Capital will invest $500,000 to $2.5 million in profitable women-focused SMEs in Nigeria and Ghana. It will further target investments in critical sectors such as healthcare, fintech, renewable energy, and essential consumer goods.

Aruwa’s team includes investment professionals and portfolio managers based in Lagos. They combine international best practice skill sets from global institutions – with deep local networks and on-the-ground presence – to unlock untapped investment opportunities.

“We selected Aruwa Capital as one of our first investments because we were impressed by the team’s grit, conviction and depth of analysis, their value addition for early-growth stage SMEs in Nigeria, and their commitment to driving impact for women and youth,” said Samuel Akyianu, Chief of Party at the Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund (MFAGF). “We look forward to working with the team to help make Aruwa Capital a success story.”

Also commenting, Bart Schaap, Managing Director at Nyala Venture said, “The Aruwa Capital team has already made successful investments in small and growing businesses in West Africa that are creating inclusive economic growth and jobs whilst also strengthening good corporate governance and investment rigour in the process. With our investment, we are putting our weight behind local and innovative capital providers in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on gender lens.”

About Aruwa Capital Management

Aruwa Capital Management is a Lagos-based, female-founded/ led early-stage growth equity and gender lens fund. It focuses on investing equity and equity-linked capital to established and fast-growing companies in the small to lower mid-market segment in Nigeria and Ghana, largely undervalued and underserved by larger financial institutions. Aruwa provides growth capital to untapped indigenous businesses with an operating history and proven track record. The fund only invests in businesses that meet its gender lens criteria.

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About Visa Foundation

Visa Foundation seeks to support inclusive economies where individuals, businesses, and communities can thrive. The Foundation prioritises the growth of gender-diverse and inclusive small and micro-businesses through grant-making and investing. It further supports broader community needs and disaster response in times of crisis.

Visa Foundation is registered in the US as a 501(c)3 entity.

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About the Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund

The Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund is a bold initiative— a Fund of Funds—that works through African fund managers to support early-stage, growth-oriented SMEs on the continent, to enable dignified and fulfilling work for young people, particularly young women. The Mastercard Foundation Africa Growth Fund is catalytic, helping to crowd in additional capital for African entrepreneurs by investing in and strengthening African investment funds that are committed to advancing gender equity in entrepreneurship.

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About Nyala Venture

Nyala Venture is a Fund Manager, set up as a joint venture between Cardano Development and Total Impact Capital Europe. As a Fund Manager and through the various funds it raises, Nyala Venture aims to contribute to boosting local economies. With a priority on Gender Lens Investing, Nyala Venture provides capital and capacity-strengthening services to Local Capital Providers (LCPs), which are best equipped to finance and support Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs), the most important business segment in any economy. The first fund managed by Nyala Venture is the FSDAi Nyala Facility (FNF). FSDAi is backed by UKAid providing catalytic capital to deepen African financial markets. The capacity strengthening services of the Facility are provided in partnership with the Collaborative for Frontier Finance. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development contributed to the seed capital to the Manager.

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For Further Information, please contact Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes at [email protected]

Kusumi Said [email protected]


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