Bridging the funding and support gap for early stage tech entrepreneurs

Thandeka Xaba H’20 has a Business Science Degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Cape Town and has spent most of her working career in a busy corporate job.  After leaving her job as an investment banker, Thandeka founded GlamAlly and contributed to the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation incubation programme. During this time, she witnessed first hand the catalytic impact that business can play in uplifting communities and wanted to use entrepreneurship as a force for good. In South Africa, 60% of its tech entrepreneurs are non-white. As a black female entrepreneur herself, she saw how challenging it was for early stage tech entrepreneurs to raise the capital needed to take their start up to the next stage of development and committed herself to doing something about it.

“I want to use my creativity, knowledge, skills and life experiences to solve African problems and improve people's lives.”

Serving the underserved and representing the underrepresented

THE CHALLENGE: According to the World Economic Forum, Africa is increasingly taking its place on the global stage as a continent of growth and opportunity. A critical challenge is the need to create a significant number of jobs for the continent’s booming population and the need to build a cadre of home-grown business leaders able to access global markets and drive growth in a sustainable and inclusive manner. African entrepreneurship is therefore seen as central to Africa’s future prosperity. The biggest business opportunities in the coming decade will be created by Africans who start businesses, generate jobs and wealth and capture growth opportunities. A challenge facing entrepreneurs in South Africa is a lack of access to early-stage venture funding for diverse teams, more specifically black founders who account for 60% of South Africa’s tech entrepreneurs. Added to this is a lack of diversity in the South African venture capital industry. As a black entrepreneur herself, Xaba wanted to bridge the funding and support gap for early stage tech entrepreneurs through a venture capital fund.

THE PROCESS:  With a passion for entrepreneurship and a goal to support the underserved and underrepresented entrepreneurs in South Africa, Xaba co-founded the first black female founded venture capital fund in South Africa – Digital Africa Ventures (DAV). She believes this differentiating factor uniquely positions them to identity and successfully engage distinctive teams and walk the journey from cradle to grave in assisting these businesses to grow and scale. DAV’s area of focus is post revenue, early stage digital, tech and innovation start-ups with 50% black ownership. They offer business acceleration support and access to early stage capital for seed, pre-series A & series A start-ups up to R5m. DAV’s mandate is to invest half of its committed capital into black-founded businesses. Xaba believes the company is uniquely positioned to win in the industry. She and her team are all entrepreneurs, which is uncommon in the South African ecosystem, but enables them to relate to early-stage founders. Their experience in incubation and seed investments complements their ability to deploy capital. They also have access to a high-quality pipeline through their entrepreneurial networks, including the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and Entrepreneurial Development in Higher Education as well as through the network of established funds invested in by their anchor investor, the SASME Fund. The SASME Fund is the largest venture capital fund of funds in South Africa and has deployed around R1.2bn in the venture capital ecosystem in South Africa.

THE RESULTS: Digital Africa Ventures has successfully launched and has raised committed capital from two partners namely, the SASME Fund and ZUR Capital. A key strategic partner is the SASME Fund who have invested in South Africa’s most prominent and successful venture capital funds and contribute directly to revenues through the management fee they pay for funds under management. In addition, considering the Fund’s size, SASME has also given DAV grant money to fund the expenses of the business. The SASME Fund has also been instrumental in introducing the team to potential funders who could also impact their current revenues through additional management fees. DAV is a proud member of the Digital Collective Africa initiative, a pro bono and Pan African initiative driven by Africa’s top VCs, incubators and accelerators, industry bodies, public institutions and entrepreneurs, with the purpose of creating resources to facilitate venture capital investment in early-stage African tech start-ups and standardizing the investment process.


Digital Africa Ventures is the first black female founded venture capital fund in South Africa that invests in early stage, high potential digital, tech and innovation start-ups.

Using entrepreneurship as a force for good through her venture capital fund


Xaba hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. She completed a Business Science Degree in Finance and Accounting and a Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting at the University of Cape Town. She spent three years with Investec as a CA Trainee, taking up a position in Corporate Finance thereafter. She founded GlamAlly in 2018 and Digital Africa Ventures in 2019 where she is the Principal. Digital Africa Ventures’ focus is on empowering women and reinforcing the African identity. Xaba co-founded the Tariro Foundation in 2014, a non-profit that focuses on tutoring and mentoring young girls from Grade 10 to Grade 12 focusing on education, entrepreneurship and personal and leadership development. She has been a Fellow of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation since 2011 and a Fellow in Residence since 2018. Xaba’s personal mission is to use her creativity, knowledge, skills and life experiences to solve African problems and improve people’s lives.


Thandeka Xaba views Harambe as a unique community of high-impact, diverse African entrepreneurs who are committed to building Africa’s future.

“I perceive the multitude of inefficiencies and problems being faced by African countries and people today as opportunities to create businesses and solve problems in an innovative and sustainable manner. My career vision is to build businesses around these inefficiencies and problems in a way that creates shared value and empowers Africans at a grassroots level.”

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