In partnership with Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies, the Alliance launched the Harambean Oppenheimer Fellowship, a 12-month program that supported the founders of Fineazy, LÜLA, Airgiftr and 3DIMO. The Inaugural cohort of Oppenheimer Fellows met and learned from serial entrepreneurs and global experts in the Alliance across the globe to receive support across four key strategic areas – capital, talent, strategic partnerships and leadership in order to accelerate the growth of their early-stage ventures.
The program kicked off in Rome with a lunch briefing with Jonathan Oppenehimer and his team at the Vatican during the biennial Harambeans Rome Forum. Each Fellow had the opportunity to introduce their venture and get advice from the seasoned businessman who is passionate about Africa and the role that entrepreneurs are playing. The next stop was Silicon Valley, California for an intense weekend of engagements with Silicon Valley icons. The Fellows enjoyed an intimate dinner and fireside chat with Ben Horowitz, co-founder of the world-renowned Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) venture capital firm that has invested in some of the most successful companies, including Facebook and Airbnb. Doug Galen, CEO of Rippleworks, a private Foundation that accelerates the growth of ventures whose product or service improves lives, joined the Fellows for lunch where he shared RippleWorks’ story and his personal entrepreneurial journey. Michael Seibel, the CEO and partner at Y Combinator, the world’s top start-up accelerator, joined the Harambeans for breakfast in San Francisco.
“I will apply everything that Ben Horowitz taught me about culture – it changed my thinking fundamentally. Meeting Ben was a dream come true and such an honor. The learnings were overwhelming and the vote of confidence he put in our business was reassuring that we are onto something worthwhile.”
Velani Mboweni, H’18, Founder of LÜLA.
The Fellows then headed to the tip of Africa to the Harambean Global Summit in Franschhoek, South Africa where they had the opportunity to spend time with the Rupert family among other prominent investors and mentors. These engagements resulted in Professor Anywhere Sikochi from the Harvard Business School writing an HBS case study on LÜLA.
With the support of Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies, the Harambean Oppenheimer Fellows raised over $2M. They increased revenues by over 50% through strategic partnerships and have a pipeline of potential partners that can enable them to increase revenues by over 100% post-COVID-19. Each venture recruited an average of five top talent and is currently maximizing efficiency by doubling up on roles. They collectively spent more than 100 hours interacting with and learning from global experts, serial entrepreneurs and investors within the Alliance, ensuring they were equipped with the knowledge needed to survive and thrive during this new and uncertain economic environment.
“Despite COVID-19 and the economic carnage wrought on so many economies and businesses, it was extremely rewarding to see how the Fellows were able to make significant progress towards their objectives and humbling to witness our Fellowship partners investing in some of the Harambean ventures, such as LÜLA,” said Okendo Lewis-Gayle, Founder and Chairman of Harambeans.
“Our hope is that our partnership with Harambe will give us a platform where we can leverage what we bring to the table alongside these extraordinary entrepreneurs so that they can start to move the dial, not only in Africa, but globally. We need such extraordinary success in Africa, given the scale of the challenges we face, that we don’t just need three, five or seven Harambeans. We need thousands of them,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, Executive Chairman of Oppenheimer Generations.
Meet the Inaugural Cohort of Harambean Oppenheimer Fellows
Monique Baars, H’19 is from South Africa and is the founder of Fineazy. With Africa having one of the lowest average financial literacy rates in the world at 31%-40%, Fineazy is building financial capability and trust using tailor-made content, local storytelling, personalized learning journeys and an AI-powered chatbot. It is a simple yet powerful solution that is relevant and accessible to the African context and fits seamlessly into daily communication on SMS, Messenger or WhatsApp.
Velani Mboweni, H’18 is from South Africa and is the Founder of LÜLA. His goal is to help South Africans reclaim their commute times by being more productive and to help reduce inefficiencies, such as the lack of reliable public transit when commuting. The company partners with verified 3rd party shuttle operators who use the driver app to pick up passengers on route in an optimized manner. Passengers use the commuter app to request, pay, and track their ride in real-time and then use the mobile pass to check-in on board.
Waleed Hatim, H’19 is from Egypt and is the co-Founder of Airgiftr. Airgiftr is an automated, matching marketplace connecting consumers in emerging markets with travelers who act as their personal global shoppers. They gift orders on their way back to the country of destination, providing a secure and timeous, low-cost shopping service. The service aims to help Egyptians to access goods in a more cost-effective way.
Nneile Nkholise, H’18 is from South Africa and is the Founder of 3DIMO. 3DIMO is a software and data science company based in Cape Town that provides globally traceable animal biometric identification to protect animal health and wellbeing. They enable farm livestock disease risk tracing using biometric identification, IR imagery and Artificial Intelligence.