Getting to Know Phylis Njongoro, Analyst at VestedWorld
VestedWorld recently welcomed full-time team members based in Nairobi. Phylis Njongoro joins as an Analyst. VestedWorld Partner Nneka Eze shared a few reflection questions with Phylis to learn more.
December 6, 2023
Nneka: Tell me a bit about your journey before joining VestedWorld.
Phylis: I’ve always been passionate about using finance to drive development. After studying economics at the undergraduate level, I began my career as a Fund Administrator, which gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the world of fund management and the different players involved.
I soon realized that I wanted to be more directly involved in investment decision-making. So, I transitioned to a role in actuarial investment consulting, where I helped large institutional investors develop and manage their investment portfolios.
Through my work, I learned about the potential of venture capital and private equity to generate high returns and make a positive impact on society. However, I also realized that most institutional investors are hesitant to invest in these asset classes due to their perceived risk.
I wanted to work in a field where I could use my skills and experience to support and fund companies that are making a real difference in the world. After six years in actuarial consulting, I recognized the need for a change that aligned with my values. In 2022, I started working with iGravity and that became my launchpad to the venture capital and impact investment sector. I later joined VestedWorld first as an Investment Fellow and then transitioned to my full-time role as Analyst.
Nneka: Thank you for sharing your journey to VestedWorld and passion for venture capital and impact. Can you share why you felt it was the time to join VestedWorld?
Phylis: VestedWorld’s clear purpose of investing in the well-being of the founders, their employees, and our investors resonates well with my purpose to have a long-term sustainable impact on the African continent. I’m glad I was among those selected for the Africa fellowship earlier in the year and am now excited to have joined full-time as an Analyst.
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?
Phylis: I greatly appreciate the experience I gained in consulting especially in understanding how market development trends drive investment decisions. Now, in venture capital, this skillset is really helpful in building conviction for deal sourcing, conducting thorough due diligence and financial analysis especially for the consumer and tech enabled sectors where consumer behavior, regulations or technological advancement have the potential to cause industry shifts.
Nneka: You’re a couple months into your role now. What are you most looking forward to?
Phylis: I’m most looking forward to supporting and investing in companies that are making a positive impact on the African ecosystem. I also look forward to investing in female-founded startups and reducing the bias in investing even given data on women’s risk management capabilities and ability to withstand economic market downturns.
Nneka: We are very much looking forward to working closely with you on these areas, Phylis! What has been surprising or challenging about your experience so far?
Phylis: In the course of my interactions with founders, I have developed a profound respect and appreciation for their resilience and determination in constructing sustainable businesses. All of this occurs concurrently with active fundraising, particularly considering the current subdued macroeconomic environment.
Nneka: What investment themes are you especially excited about?
Phylis: Africa is yet to optimize its abundant resources for sustainably economic growth. Fundamentally, the continent’s agriculture and trade potential still remain fully untapped mainly due to the fragmentation in the market I see a lot of potential in the agricultural sector, considering the vast arable land we have. In my view, the solution lies in creating and strengthening the agribusiness value chain. Since joining VestedWorld, I have actively contributed to a deal addressing these challenges. The company’s efficient tech-enabled systems for farmers and buyers alike are a testament to my vision for this sector. I look forward to unlocking more capital and support for other founders.
Nneka: What are you currently reading that might be interesting to others?
Phylis: I’m currently reading The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It’s interesting to see the transformation that Rhimes underwent in a year of saying yes to opportunities that she would have normally declined. It’s also resonating with me personally right now, as I’m pushing myself to step outside of my comfort zone and do more things that are exciting and challenging.
Nneka: Anything else to share with the world about being an Analyst at VestedWorld?
Phylis: My experience so far has been both exciting and challenging. It has been exciting, as each day is different; I tackle different tasks and meet founders with interesting solutions. It has been challenging, as the learning curve within VC is steep and the sector is constantly evolving, meaning one must continuously strive to learn.
I like that the team at VestedWorld is made up of super-intelligent individuals who not only challenge me to keep working at my craft but are always willing to support me where needed.
It also helps that the team is multicultural and spread across different regions. That makes for good conversations about our different perspectives both professionally and personally.