Getting to Know Keziah Njeri, Vice President at VestedWorld

VestedWorld recently welcomed full-time team members in Nairobi. Keziah Njeri joins as a Vice President. VestedWorld Partner Nneka Eze shared a few reflection questions with Keziah to learn more.

December 5, 2023

Nneka: Tell me a bit about your journey before joining VestedWorld.

Keziah: For context, I hold a B.Sc. in Actuarial Science. When I graduated, the course was relatively new in Kenya and the natural progression was to work in the insurance sector. Luckily, I got an opportunity to join Old Mutual Asset Managers as a Research Analyst Intern in Nairobi. This exposed me to the world of Dow Jones and unit prices, and I decided this was exciting enough to pursue a career in fund management and investment. After the internship, I joined Discount Securities Limited, a local stockbroker, in 2006. I worked as a Research Analyst and Customer Service Representative advising retail investors on stocks, how to balance their portfolio, and when to exit. This work took place during the stock market boom in Kenya — we had many IPOs in the market and the company was thriving.

Unfortunately, the firm went under in 2009 and I decided to pursue an MBA in Malaysia. I came back to Kenya after my MBA and started looking for opportunities in the investment space. I joined an investment group called IBRD House Limited in 2012. In 2013, I joined InVhestia Africa, a boutique corporate and project finance advisory business. Over the years I developed expertise in financial modelling, valuation, commercial and financial due diligence, and fundraising. In 2014, I started supporting ViKtoria Ventures (an affiliate company of InVhestia Africa) providing consultancy services to accelerators and funds. I also worked with startups as a coach, mentor, and trainer. All these pieces came together and paved the way for my career transition into venture capital.

Nneka: Thank you for sharing your impressive career journey and how you supported the emerging start-up ecosystem in Kenya. Can you share why you felt it was the time to join VestedWorld?

Keziah: After a decade in consulting, I started considering a career change at the beginning of the year. I was confident in my skills and professional network, and I was already managing a small team in my current role. I began positioning myself for a leadership role in venture capital. The opportunity to join VestedWorld came through a referral — I guess this is no surprise! I joined VestedWorld in September 2023, working in the Nairobi Office.

Nneka: On its face, our team — which is Black and African — may not seem diverse to an outsider judging only by skin color or continent of origin. What diversity of thought or perspective, do you feel you are bringing to VestedWorld and for the broader ecosystem?

Keziah: I’m bringing valuable experience across various sectors, including healthcare, financial services, logistics, and real estate. I have a good understanding of the Kenyan context, too. This expertise will be beneficial in assessing opportunities, structuring deals, and creating value for our portfolio companies within these sectors. Additionally, I’ll tap into this knowledge to contribute ideas for enhancing our technical processes. I grew up outside of Nairobi, which brings a different perspective than those who grew up in the capital city.

Nneka: You’re a couple months into your role now. What you were most looking forward to then and now, what you’re looking forward to for the rest of the year?

Keziah: I was looking forward to taking my first deal through the entire investment process from selection to closing. Obviously, this has not yet happened given the duration it takes to close a deal — but it’s in progress now. That said, it has been a good start to the role, and I’ve received a lot of support from the team. In the last quarter of the year, I’m looking forward to continuing working closely with the team to generate value for our portfolio companies and investors. Additionally, I’m excited about further partnerships with ecosystem stakeholders to collectively pursue our shared goals.

Nneka: Thank you, Keziah. We are very much looking forward to working closely with you this quarter and for more to come! So…what’s been surprising or challenging about your experience so far?

Keziah: I didn’t know there were so many ventures looking for funding! When experts say that entrepreneurship is critical to Africa’s transformation, they are right on the money! However, unlocking the full economic and social potential of entrepreneurship also requires the right interventions. It’s reassuring to see numerous organizations offering both financial and non-financial support in the ecosystem.

To create a lasting impact, it’s crucial to nurture an entrepreneurial mindset in our homes and educational institutions starting at a young age.

Nneka: What investment themes are you especially excited about and what are areas that you feel that we should try to invest into (further)?

Keziah: I’m excited about the consumer goods sector because consumption is a key driver of economic growth not only from a spending perspective but also from a job creation point of view. In Kenya, for example, we have thousands of Kenyans working in Industrial Area and Baba Dogo — the manufacturing hubs in Nairobi. While many VCs may not find this sector exciting, it is poised for growth because staple goods are always in demand. I think household and personal care, beverages, and food businesses are exciting staple goods.

In addition, there are new opportunities in this sector being driven by changes in consumer tastes and preferences, technology and innovations, and consumer consciousness. Some interesting themes include health and wellness and in-home entertainment and hobbies.

Investors need to scan the environment to identify trends that will disrupt the consumer goods sector and move fast! I’m glad that VestedWorld is intentional about investing in this theme.

Nneka: I’m looking forward to working together on consumer deals in the new year. What are you currently reading that might be interesting to others?

Keziah: I’m currently reading “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Perez. She highlights the biases against women in everyday life and the profound impact they have on women’s lives. She concludes by saying that bridging the gender data gap will only occur when there is a considerable representation of women in leadership and government positions. This is a good read for anyone interested in measuring the impact of various interventions targeting women — they need to ask themselves whether there already exists design biases that will affect the outcomes of the interventions.

I’m glad that we, at VestedWorld, are already taking a critical approach in our definition of female-led and female-owned businesses and assessment of our impact within these enterprises.

Nneka: You’re an important part of our intersectional gender lens investing journey given your past experience and passion for the area as well. Anything else to share with the world about being a Vice President at VestedWorld?

Keziah: The role offers me the opportunity to work with an exceptional team that possesses deep expertise and extensive networks in the field. I’m grateful to be starting on such a strong foundation and it’s my responsibility to continue leading the team to even greater achievements. I will borrow heavily from Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last.” He says, “the ability of a group to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people pull together as a team.” This principle is true not only at the firm level but also in our interactions with portfolio companies and investors.

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