Partner Spotlight: Aruwa Capital

Investing in women is smart investing. Research shows that private equity and venture capital funds with more women fund managers outperform all-male teams, producing higher financial returns and more profitable exits. Furthermore, women investors are more likely to invest in women entrepreneurs and industries that benefit women and their families, opening up new markets and generating significant social impact. Yet only 15% of emerging market funds have gender-balanced investment teams while nearly 70% have no women at all. Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes sought to change that.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria and educated primarily in the United Kingdom, Adesuwa built her career at some of the leading global financial institutions working in investment banking and private equity. Throughout most of her career, she was consistently one of the only Black women in finance at the firms. Determined to use her skills and track record to change the narrative of women funders and founders, she founded Aruwa Capital Management. As an impact-focused equity fund, Aruwa Capital invests in African women entrepreneurs and businesses catering to the untapped $15 trillion female economy. In 2022, Visa Foundation became the first institutional investor in Aruwa Capital with a $4 million commitment, enabling Adesuwa to raise an additional $17 million to invest in women-focused and women-led businesses.

Alhaja Aderinoye Titilayo acquired Koolboks freezers via an affordable, pay-as-you-go model.
One of the companies Aruwa Capital invested in is Koolboks, an affordable, solar-powered refrigerator that generates continuous cooling in the absence of power and sunlight. Koolboks is serving women small business owners in off-grid areas of Africa who sell perishables and frozen foods. Without electricity, these entrepreneurs have often had to discard their products, impacting their income and, thus, their livelihood. To date, 2,544 entrepreneurs have acquired Koolboks freezers via an affordable, monthly, pay-as-you-go model. Alhaja Aderinoye Titilayo is one of those entrepreneurs. By replacing her diesel-fueled generator with a Koolboks freezer, Alhaja decreased her monthly electricity bill by 60%, enabling her to reinvest in her storefront and generate additional revenue to support her business and family.

Visa Foundation’s visionary support as Aruwa’s first institutional investor was catalytic in propelling our mission forward while also inspiring other investors to invest in women-led funds. Its commitment transformed our trajectory, enabling us to impact over 167,365 small and micro businesses in the last two years alone.

– Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder & Managing Partner, Aruwa Capital