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From airport hangar to leading VC firm: The story of Greenhouse Capital

Comms and PR team, GHC



Imagine this.

It’s 2011 and you’re standing in an airport hangar that has been converted into a tech hub, in the middle of Lagos, Nigeria. You’re surrounded by the buzz, the energy of hundreds of young talents that are eagerly building technology companies solving some of the region’s biggest challenges – solving big hairy questions such as “How do we put education online for millions of Africans?”, “How do we connect the continent to financial services” and “how do we bring affordable energy solutions to power every household?”.

This is where Bunmi and Kunmi, the founders of Venture Garden Group (VGG), started. After a decade of building technology companies in the United States, Bunmi and Kunmi returned to Lagos, joining forces with Demola, the third cofounder.   At the time, financial infrastructure across the continent was sparse and the first layer of all the critical sectors of the economy required companies to solve for enabling transactions and payments. Thanks to VGG’s venture building platform, they successfully launched 15 businesses, which are still operational today.

As our venture builder grew, we continued to build capacity and train the incredible raw talent that was coming out of universities and high schools across the country. And since then, over 1000 people have been empowered & trained through our ventures at VGG.

However, solving the biggest problems and building the most daring solutions, required us to expand the ecosystem we had built in VGG. Bunmi and Kunmi wanted to find a way to catalyse other entrepreneurs by sharing their experience, lessons learned and mentorship. Having personally felt the challenging impact of capital gaps in the market, they also knew they needed to back founders with their own capital.

GIBE (Garden Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship) was Greenhouse Capital’s 1.0 version. It was an initiative focused on supporting young talent at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.

One of the GIBE participants was Laolu, who went on co-found Yep! (Previously E-settlement Limited (ESL)), was one of the GIBE participants and our very first investment. ESL is dedicated to creating jobs and improving businesses through inclusive fintech and agency banking. However, what drew Bunmi and Kunmi to Laolu was his passion & desire to transform the lives and businesses of Africa’s everyday people. Of course, it was a no-brainer for us to help Laolu succeed.

So, after all these years, we asked him a few questions about his experience with us, and this is what he had to say…  ‘

Laolu, we love you too!

Bunmi Akinyemiju, our founding partner, recalls “We wanted to be the partners we never had, supporting founders who looked like us, when very few investors ever paid attention. Initially it was just us, backing founders with our own capital. But where we saw magic, was when we paired our on-ground teams, know-how and relationships to create growth and outcomes for our portfolio companies. That has always been our formula”


We’ve often felt that the term venture investing didn’t fully encapsulate everything we do with our companies, feeling more like an extension of the teams we build and invest in rather than simply a capital provider.

“The team is incredibly committed to the ethos. During the pandemic, the partners literally moved to Kenya to be on ground and understand the market, tech ecosystem and build their network to better support their portfolio companies. We were backward engineering outcomes before we had invested in the regions and today hold stakes in some of East Africa’s leading companies such as Marketforce & Pezesha.” – Surabhi Nimkar (Partner, Greenhouse Capital)

Although clichéd, Greenhouse Capital was actually built by founders for founders. It was out of necessity, responsibility, and passion to build our ecosystem and empower African entrepreneurs to move the needle for our continent. At the time, it was the only operator-led tech family office/ VC (Venture Capital) in the region, investing in companies in the same sectors we deeply understood- B2B Infrastructure, SME Ecosystems and Fintech. This came from our experience-backed thesis that the region needed to build out the digital pipes and plumbing to catalyse people and businesses to trade online. They were what people would call “boring businesses”. The ones that you can’t see, touch or feel the presence of, but quietly powers everything we do online.  Since 2016, we have deployed nearly $15m across 50+ companies. We’ve had a 7x exit and currently have an unrealised MOIC (Multiple of Invested Capital) of 5x.

“We also knew it was important to build the local LP (Limited Partners) ecosystem, but tech VC in Africa was a daring frontier that most local investors and businesspeople had not previously been exposed to. We’re forever grateful and humbled by the first 10 family office LPs (Limited Partners) (Limited Partners) who have been with us since day one”

Fast forward to today; Greenhouse Capital is a 10 person VC with the power of 300 technology experts behind us. We have built a platform that serves businesses all the way from MVP through to exit. Our portfolio companies can tap into the services focused on Market Expansion, licensing and compliance, outsourced finance, HR, Legal support functions and capital raising.

The core of our thesis remains largely the same, big infrastructure solutions across sectors where you can embed fintech… except with a keen focus on companies leveraging frontier technologies such as tokenisation, blockchain and AI. And everything we learned in our “First Fund” which was largely West Africa focused, we have now taken to other markets across East Africa and the Middle East.

We are no longer at the beginning of the Africa/ MENA story; we are well on our way…

In short- we know what it takes to win, and we’ve earned these stripes. We’ve been on-ground since 2011, building 15 innovative companies through our venture builder and supporting 50 companies through our family office turned VC. And we’re determined to continue generating outsized returns for founders and co-investors. We would love to partner with you, so please drop us a line, subscribe to our newsletter and watch this space.

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