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Mohamed Karar: Solving the Significant Funding Gap for Early-Stage African Startups

Mohamed Karar: Solving the Significant Funding Gap for Early-Stage African Startups

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and 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, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. I have one last interview for this week. Today I’m super excited to speak with Cape-Town-based Mohamed Karar, a Venture Partner with Launch Africa Ventures.

Spiffy: Hey Mohamed, and welcome to the blog! Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge you are addressing through Launch Africa Ventures?

Mohamed: I’m happy to be here, Spiffy. We, through the organization, are solving the significant funding gap for early-stage startups in Africa.

Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?

Mohamed: Africa’s population is growing rapidly, and technology can address people’s needs on a large scale. Without seed funding, the startups that address people’s needs will not be able to grow and provide need-to-have goods and services.

Spiffy: Can you elaborate on how you and your colleagues are working towards a more equitable world?

Mohamed: Talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. African entrepreneurs don’t have adequate access to financing and investments. We invest in entrepreneurs that are often overlooked by global investment firms who generally fund foreign or privileged entrepreneurs in Africa.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community?

Mohamed: We recently became investors in 20 African countries. In some of those countries, we made the very first VC investment in their history. Once the example has been made, lots of startups and investors get encouraged, catalyzing the local tech entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Spiffy: I’d love to hear about an inspiring startup that Launch Africa Ventures has helped to advance its impact.

Mohamed: Tirhal is a mobility super app based in Khartoum, Sudan. It offers its services through a gig economy similar to Uber, for example. Today, there are more than 80,000 people who have made money on the application. That makes Tirhal the largest organization by headcount, second only to the military.

Spiffy: Wow, that’s amazing! Thanks for speaking with me today, Mohamed—it’s been an honor!

Mohamed Karar is a Sudanese-American venture capitalist at Launch Africa Ventures. He joined the firm at its founding as one of the first hires while he was an engineering undergrad at the University of Iowa, and has seen it grow into the most active VC investor on the African continent. (Nominated by Favour Nerrise at the National Society of Black Engineers. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 13, 2023.)

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.