Yacob Berhane: Supporting the Next Generation of African Innovators
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, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, gang! Spiffy here with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Yacob Berhane, the co-founder and CEO of Pariti. Let’s learn what’s happening at Pariti and how Yacob is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Yacob! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Pariti?
Yacob: Happy to be with you, Spiffy! At Pariti, we've built an entrepreneurial marketplace that supports the next generation of African entrepreneurs, investors, and talent. We believe that by facilitating access to capital and resources, we can help builders create innovative solutions that tackle the toughest challenges facing Africa and the world. We take a data-driven approach to everything we do. By using our data models to identify key issues in the ecosystem, we then design products and services that truly make a difference.
Spiffy: That is super exciting! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?
Yacob: My home country of Eritrea, including the sacrifices and contributions my family has made there. I wanted to do my part in contributing to this continent and supporting the next generation of African entrepreneurs. There's nothing more fulfilling than helping these builders realize their dreams, and in turn, serve their communities. Connecting talented individuals to opportunities—whether it's placing someone in a role at a company or matching an investor with a phenomenal founder—the sense of satisfaction is indescribable. We're not just building a business, we're building a community of changemakers, and I feel grateful every day to be a part of it.
Spiffy: Very cool—you have quite the inspiration! How would you describe the impact of your work?
Yacob: As an example, we can consider Grove, our dealroom marketplace. It is more than just a platform: it's a community of founders and investors. Over the last 36 months, we've had the privilege of helping 100+ founders raise over $160 million across 40+ countries. Pariti Talent, our job platform, has been able to contribute to a more transparent labor market by setting high standards for salary disclosures. It's not just about numbers for us—we're committed to helping job-seekers on our platform earn what they're worth. We've seen individuals on our platform earn multiples over their previous salary, and it's been truly transformative for them and their families.
Spiffy: How wonderful! Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by Pariti. What impact does that make?
Yacob: Our Talent platform is now the largest recruitment program in Africa with 3,000+ referrers. We turned our community into recruiters, allowing them to help high-quality people find good work and be compensated as they do so. It's a special way for us to enable positive-sum thinking in our ecosystem.
Spiffy: Congratulations on that success! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Yacob: Last year, we created Pando DAO for like-minded founders who are passionate about supporting the next generation of innovators. With 80+ founders representing $5 billion+ in valuation, $250 million+ DFI, and 15,000+ jobs across 16+ countries, we're proud to be part of an ecosystem that's making a real impact. For us, Pando DAO is more than just a project. We recognized that our ecosystem was missing a gathering space where we could come together to share knowledge, leverage our value, and accelerate progress even further. That's why we started with our first project: a fund backed by us to support the next generation of founders.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Yacob—it’s been an honor!
Yacob Berhane spent the past decade working to build the startup ecosystem in Africa. Prior to co-founding Pariti and Pando DAO, Yacob co-founded ALN Ventures, a pan-African accelerator; served as VP at Ingressive Capital; and was the head of growth and investments for Ajua, a venture-backed consumer data startup. He started his career in investment banking and is a Howard alum. (Nominated by Tonna Obaze of Harlem Capital. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 15, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. 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.