Neha Shah, 38

Co-founder

Rafiki Ventures and Maitri Capital
My Story,

Have a start-up? Ring her up

Neha cofounded and heads two financial services companies — a private equity firm and a financial advisory outfit named Rafiki Ventures and Maitri Capital respectively.

The two companies were formed between 2016 and 2017, following more than 15 years of a professional life in audit and investment in Kenya and the UK, where she worked for firms such as KPMG and Norfund, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund.

Neha says she decided to go into private equity and advisory business to help small and medium-sized firms raise capital and scale their operations.

“I’m passionate about encouraging young entrepreneurs and start-ups succeed in their ventures,” she says. The hand-holding covers many aspects of the emerging businesses.

"“SMEs are the lifeblood of emerging market economies. The more successful the SME market is, the more job creation there is, and the better the economy as a whole performs.”"

“SMEs are the lifeblood of emerging market economies. The more successful the SME market is, the more job creation there is, and the better the economy as a whole performs.”

Rafiki Ventures invests in early-stage start-ups across Africa and other emerging countries. On the other hand, Maitri Capital offers a suite of financial advisory services including deal structuring, due diligence and raising capital (debt and equity).

Some of Maitri’s key assignments include advising Canon Chemicals (Kenya) on its acquisition by Indian conglomerate Godrej in 2016.

Neha says she wants Maitri to be the go-to firm for businesses and entrepreneurs with corporate finance needs in Africa. She also wants to help more women enter the financial services industry.

Neha, who grew up in Kisumu, says she draws her strength and inspiration from her family and leading political and business figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Elon Musk.

“I have always been driven by the motto that one person is all it takes to make a difference, a positive impact in the world. And even though the idea may sound crazy, I’ll try it anyway,” she says.

Her extensive experience in finance is as impressive as her education. She holds an MBA from INSEAD (France/Singapore) and a Master’s in Economics from Cambridge University.

To relax, Neha spends time with loved ones, reads, watches movies, learns about spirituality and does yoga. She also loves to travel “off the beaten path.”

–Victor Juma