Renew Capital's operations have expanded to nine African countries. We aim to provide insight into Africa's startup scene, along with the opportunities and challenges it presents through a series of blogs from our team on the ground. If you share our passion for developing entrepreneurship in Africa, we invite you to check out our open roles.
My Journey to Renew Capital: Get to know Antony Maina
By Antony Maina | Thu Dec 07 2023
Navigating the marathon of career, impact, entrepreneurship and family
Welcome to the latest feature of our ‘Journey to Renew Capital’ blog series. In this interview, we speak with Antony Maina, Marketing and Communications Manager about his journey to Renew Capital, what entrepreneurship means to him, family life and a lot more.
Antony, it’s wonderful to have you with us. Growing up in Eldoret, Kenya a town quite famous for its athletes, how did this influence your unique career path, particularly your passion for communications and entrepreneurship?
My hometown of Eldoret, Kenya is known as the “home of champions” because of the many elite long-distance runners it has produced. Compared to other cities like Mombasa and Nairobi it felt more like a village where everyone knew everyone even though it is a metropolitan town. We all went to the same schools and would meet in the same churches. The one thing that brought everyone together was athletics, with the main stadium in the town — “Kipchoge Keino Stadium” — named after Kenya's first Olympic gold medalist. Coming across droves of runners as they practiced for their marathons was a usual sight.
While I admired the runners, my journey was destined for a different track. I was more drawn into entrepreneurship so after completing my undergraduate studies, I immediately started out as a freelance blog writer. This experience was my introduction to the world of communications and storytelling. I found myself drawn to stories about businesses and this marked the start of my path towards understanding entrepreneurship.
You've had a diverse career across various organizations before joining Renew Capital. How have these experiences shaped your understanding of entrepreneurship and its role in addressing global challenges?
Each experience has been a building block in my understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape, especially in developing economies. Prior to Renew Capital, my role at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) was particularly transformative. I led our work in Ethiopia and Rwanda and also spearheaded the Argidius-ANDE Talent Challenge, which was a unique challenge that sought innovative programs that addressed the challenge that many businesses encounter that is identifying, attracting and retaining middle- and senior-level managers.
I also led the mapping of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Rwanda and Ethiopia. This was eye-opening too as it underscored the critical gap in financing for small and growing businesses – a gap that, if filled, could catalyze significant progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Well, the bottom line is - I strongly believe that entrepreneurship is an underleveraged tool in the fight against poverty and many other global challenges that we face today. Entrepreneurs are innovative and are wired to create solutions. With the right support, entrepreneurs can be a driving force for sustainable economic growth.
That's a powerful insight. How did this perspective lead you to Renew Capital, and how has your first year there been?
I first came across Renew Capital in 2018, while I was still with ANDE. We hosted a few events with the team in Addis Ababa and Nairobi and that gave me a driver's seat view of their culture, vision and beliefs. Oh, and did I say there was a podcast too? Well, Renew Capital was at the time running a series of podcasts that I loved listening to on my way to work. Their vision and passion for transforming Africa's narrative from an aid-dependent to an investment-ready continent deeply resonated with me. At the time, Renew Capital was in Ethiopia and had just opened an office in Uganda marking the start of its pan-Africa expansion. Joining Renew Capital therefore felt like a natural next step in my journey.
My first year has been exhilarating. Like many entrepreneurs we support, Renew Capital is fast-paced. New ideas are generated daily with those that don’t work being put quickly to rest. You can feel the entrepreneurial energy once you step into the room. The team’s diverse backgrounds contribute to a rich mix of perspectives that fosters a dynamic environment where innovative solutions to complex challenges are encouraged and implemented on a daily basis. And by the way, if that sounds like a team that you would like to join, check out the current job opportunities.
How has it been managing the first-paced work at Renew Capital with your family life? Is there such a thing as balance?
Finding a balance between work and family life is like trying to dance on a moving train, you just have to go with the flow. My twins keep me on my toes. They’re a constant reminder of why the work we do is crucial. It’s about creating a world where they and other children like them, can thrive. I want to instill in them an entrepreneurial spirit, the courage to innovate and make a difference.
What are your hopes for the future?
Looking ahead, I see a world where entrepreneurship is at the heart of sustainable development. At Renew Capital, we're just scratching the surface of what's possible. Africa’s brimming with potential and people are beginning to recognize the continent's untapped wealth and opportunities. For example, the African Development Bank highlights that Africa holds 65% of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, abundant fresh water and about 300 days of sunshine each year. Furthermore, with Africa's population projected to reach 2.4 billion by 2050 and continue growing to 4.2 billion over the next century, the potential market for new businesses is enormous.
I believe Africa’s economic growth is largely going to be driven by entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinking. As our Co-CEO Matt Davis says, “Africa’s moment is now.” Here are more reasons why.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.