Wale Ayeni joins IFC from Orange to invest in African startups

Wale Ayeni has joined the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, from France-based telecommunications company Orange.

Ayeni joined Orange in 2013, leading venture capital early-stage investments as Principal in disruptive startups across various technology sectors in North America.

During his time at Orange Digital Ventures, Orange’s US investment subsidiary, Ayeni’s target areas included fintech, enterprise cloud software, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, connectivity and the internet of things.

Its investments included Veniam (Mesh Networks), Chain (Blockchain) and WEVR (Virtual Reality)

Before joining Orange, Ayeni worked at financial services firm JP Morgan’s investment banking team, where he handled investments in the technology, media and telecom sector.

Ayeni joins the IFC’s venture capital team where he’ll focus on African investments and pursue his passion, frontier market investing.

The venture capital team manages IFC’s VC portfolio, which includes Andela, a Nigerian education company; Indian healthcare company, Portea, and Souq, a Middle Eastern consumer Internet company.

The value of the VC portfolio will be doubled to US$1 billion in the next two years. This increase includes US$500 million in direct investments as well as US$150 million in technology VC fund managers.

These investments will be used to support entrepreneurs at various stages of development – including businesses that haven’t yet reached the seed-investment stage.

“Today, growing use of smartphones, sensors, and big data is spurring generational change in sectors like healthcare and education, allowing entrepreneurship to thrive in frontier markets,” said Nikunj Jinsi, IFC’s global head of venture capital.

He added, “To encourage these developments, IFC will substantially step up its funding efforts to support innovative businesses and early-stage fund managers, with the intent to support innovation ecosystems and new opportunities for growth such as digital health, new age education systems, and mobile services.”

Ayeni has an MBA from Dartmouth College, and got his Bachelor’s degree with distinguished “Red Diploma” from Moscow University, Russia.

He’s a Kauffman Venture Capital Fellow, a recipient of the top global 100 Rising Stars award in Corporate Venture, and is extremely passionate about frontier market VC investments.

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