Silicon Valley Royalty Welcomes Harambeans

Photo: Left to Right, Top Row: Efosa Ojomo H'17, Waleed Hatim H'19, Ikenna Nzewi H'17, Monique Baars H'19. Middle Row: Iyinoluwa Aboyeji H'10, Anis Kallel H'19, Velani Mboweni H'18, Yasmin Kumi H'16. Bottom Row: Kelechi Ofoegbu H'13, Nneile Nkholise H'18, Ben Horowitz, Nait Jones.

Silicon Valley is synonymous with technology and innovation and is home to many of the world’s largest tech companies. It was therefore fitting for Harambeans in the Knowledge Transfer Initiative (KTI) and the Global Access Program (GAP) to spend a weekend there meeting with Silicon Valley icons to learn from the best in order to take their ventures to the next level.

The Harambeans 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, Airbnb, Asana, Coinbase, Lyft, to name a few. “The weekend was truly inspiring but a highlight was speaking to Ben about Fineazy’s mission as well as the challenges I’m currently facing. His response that “financial literacy is important work”, and his keen interest and advice were so encouraging coming from such an iconic entrepreneur and investor.” Monique Baars, H’19, Founder of Fineazy. “I will apply everything that Ben taught me about culture – it is critical and has 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

Doug Galen, CEO of Rippleworks, a private Foundation that accelerates the growth of ventures whose product or service improves lives, had an intimate lunch and fireside chat around RippleWorks’ story and his personal entrepreneurial journey. “Doug provided great insight into maximizing the number of experiments per unit of time as a critical determinant of start-up success. The weekend also reaffirmed that the Valley is interested in investing in African start-ups, but that we need to find parallels to make our initial land and then layer on the local context while describing our GTM (go to market) strategy.” Ikenna Nzewi, H’17, Co-founder of Releaf.

Photo: Left to Right: Michael Seibel, Anis Kallel H’19, Waleed Hatim H’19, Monique Baars H’19. Ikenna Nzewi H’17, Kelechi Ofoegbu H’13, Efosa Ojomo H’17, Yasmin Kumi H’16, Velani Mboweni H’18, Nneile Nkholise H’18.

Michael Seibel is the CEO and partner at Y Combinator, the world’s top start-up accelerator with many notable ventures such as Stripe, Dropbox and Airbnb joined Harambeans for an intimate breakfast in San Francisco. “Meeting Michael was quite surreal. He shared where entrepreneurs commonly make mistakes and how to build good products that people want to use. I found his directions applicable to my business and it felt like office hours at Y Combinator.” Anis Kallel, H’19, Founder of Kaoun.

To round off the extraordinary gathering of Silicon Valley royalty and Harambeans was a pledge of $100 000 to each Harambean from a prominent Silicon Valley tech investor. “This was not only a vote of confidence in Harambeans but in innovators across Africa,” said Harambeans Founder, Okendo Lewis-Gayle.

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