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Kiki Mwiti: Closing the Funding Gap for Underrepresented, Diverse Founders

Kiki Mwiti: Closing the Funding Gap for Underrepresented, Diverse Founders


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Kiki Mwiti, the founder and CEO of DYVVYD. Let’s learn what’s happening at DYVVYD and how Kiki is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Kiki, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is DYVVYD addressing? 

Kiki: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! DYVVYD leverages data and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide overlooked and often underestimated founders the power to access capital. The platform targets investors who are “ahead of the curve” in terms of prioritizing investments in underrepresented founders—such as women and people of color. We provide a digital community where both investors and founders can be introduced, foregoing barriers such as the warm intro or elite network. DYVVYD is intentional in closing the funding gap for women and minorities by digitizing investor relations, specifically for these identities. We support them via introductions and deal flow, making recommendations based on activity or interaction, and collecting data against successful connection points. 

Spiffy: This is so important. What motivated you to work on this problem?

Kiki: My journey toward working in this space was borne out of a fighting need to create the platform, resources, and experience that I myself would have wanted when I first arrived in San Francisco ten years ago. I was raising funding at the time, attempting to scale my global platform for international founders, and discovered the fundraising experience to be incredibly opaque—from access to knowledge and expertise to help me navigate the ecosystem, to gaining access to the top-tier investors I wanted to simply share my story with. Following those early years of pounding the pavement fruitlessly, I was led to slowly create the space I would have wanted when I first began.

Spiffy: Everyone needs a space that represents them. How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?

Kiki: We're making intentional efforts toward more equitable funding by actively increasing the odds that outlier founders succeed at representation—putting startup teams directly in front of those who write the checks. Then, we are building and testing tools via the data we collect to help inform inclusive investment funds and mission-aligned groups on the advantages of funding the influx of non-US, minority, and female-owned businesses on the rise. We are encouraging investors to use business intelligence tools to create insights that will help catapult their 10-20 year projections. Our participation in the Venture Equity Project, led by the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, is helping advance this mission.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make?

Kiki: No one can deny that the metaverse is upon us. Under DYVVYD's Studio Division, we have spent the past two years exploring the new technologies of the Web3, blockchain, NFT, and metaverse space, meeting founding teams, reviewing numerous brilliant pitches for funding, and discussing with industry experts the power of Web3, a new model for a digital future. It can be the force-for-good that can inspire our diverse and dynamic founders. The future potential to elevate equity, erase trade barriers, and lift communities to participate in a global economy is inspirational.

Spiffy: Tell me about an inspiring startup that your organization has helped to advance its impact.

Kiki: I have consistently been bullish on Africa—on its potential, its brilliance in innovation, its sheer market size (at three times the size of the United States), and holding 60% of the remaining arable land in the world. While the rest of the globe is dealing with an advanced aging population, Africa's youth population sits at 60% to 70%. Plus, it is growing rapidly! We are doubling down on Africa by working with the brilliant team behind the www.NoirDiaspora.com platform led by Paris-based Angel Investor Marie-Noëlle Baba. With our support, the platform is at the forefront of nurturing the fastest scaling underdog African startup teams like Zaapmart, Afridex, PandaScrow, Digit-AD, Aero AI, FaidiHR, Niteon, Dial Afrika, Foodlocker, 8 Medical, Slide, and more.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Kiki—it’s been an honor!

Kiki Mwiti is the founder and CEO of DYVVYD, an investment platform and digital community that leverages data and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide underestimated founders the power to access capital. The platform targets investors by prioritizing diversity by digitizing investor relations and collecting data against successful connection points. Her work has been seen in Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, and CBS Bay Area News, among other publications. Kiki shares her perspectives with the audiences of the Women in Information Technology Summit, Global Skills Day, SummerFest Festival, and more. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 29, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jason Block. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.