Lavanya Anand

Principal

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Immigrant mentality. I left “home” for the first time at the age of one. I was born in Delhi, India but soon moved to Belgium where I attended a French preschool and started learning three languages at the same time. We then moved back to India for a short stint before moving again to the US at the age of six. I still remember my drive from LAX airport to our new home, surprised by the wide highways and fast cars, and also the absence of people and garbage in every corner.  The stark differences between the “developing” world and the “developed” world that I noticed even as a child will always be imprinted in my mind. This multinational upbringing instilled a strong desire for equality but also the importance of work ethic and adaptability. Over the years, I became a little too comfortable in the US, so of course packing my bags and moving to Kenya in 2018 as an immigrant once again was the natural next step.

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“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” While this quote certainly highlights my love for dance, it also represents my broader views on work and life. I try not to take myself too seriously and bring a level of informality and cheer to the workplace that hopefully builds trust and deeper relationships with colleagues and entrepreneurs. I think this is especially important in a new field where no one is an expert and humility goes a long way.

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Not a boring accountant. While I started my career as a CPA working on audit and tax engagements, I didn’t want to be defined by that role. From the beginning, I sought out ways to have more impact and also flex my creative side. Outside of work, I got involved in the burgeoning startup and social enterprise communities in Los Angeles, joined a nonprofit board focused on youth development, and even started a side hustle selling fashion jewelry. 

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Family of doctors. Although my childhood dream of practicing medicine never came true, I’ve always been passionate about improvements in public health. As the world becomes increasingly connected (digitally and physically), there’s innovative ways to share reliable information, provide medical diagnoses and treatment advice affordably, and send life-saving medicines to the last-mile. Having access to basic healthcare can have positive ripple effects on the economy, from better education to higher productivity.

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Africa is not a monolith. Not everyone working or investing in Africa is trying to tackle poverty. The continent is made up of 54 unique countries, all with different and highly complex problems. Some solutions are addressing problems specific to urban areas like the ease of public transportation and mobility, while others are addressing problems specific to rural areas like access to high-quality agriculture inputs. Some solutions are addressing problems specific to higher-income individuals, like reliable access to house-help while others are addressing problems specific to the mass market like access to affordable credit.

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Advice for entrepreneurs. You don’t have to be perfect. This is a relationship-based business. To the extent you can be transparent about yourself and your business, the higher likelihood of building a stronger relationship with us. Tell us why you’re excited about what you’re building. Tell us where you need help. Tell us when we’re wrong.

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Perspectives:

Closing the Gap in Healthcare in Africa

Getting from Farm to Table in Africa: Why We Invested in GET IT