CORPORATE - Game Changers 29/11/2023 ph. Andrea Francolini Tando and Margaret Matando Co-founder of MUSA
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Tando and Dr Margaret Matanda Talk With Game Changers Host Tracey Spicer About How Musa Is Levelling The Venture Capital Playing Field

From empowering emerging companies to levelling the venture capital playing field, Tando and Dr Margaret Matanda help founders build healthier ventures and find the right funding. Their intelligent platform and proprietary venture health assessment tool brings a holistic and objective lens to allow funders to easily source, screen and scale diverse ventures. This dynamic mother-daughter duo is using technology to remove barriers to capital and drive equity investment. So, are they game changers? Let’s find out. I’m Tracey Spicer. Welcome to Game Changers.

Tracey: We know that less than 5% of investment goes to female founders. Your platform, Musa, aims to change that, which I think is phenomenal. Tando takes us through how it works.

Tando: Musa is the first intelligent venture assessment platform, and what we’ve done is really use advances in technology to allow a central place where founders can go in, look at the benchmarks, look at the industry standards and compare their businesses to these 12 pillars and determine where are the gaps in their businesses that make them not attractive to investors. We then work with investors to help them source, screen and scale diverse ventures. The aim is really to make funding accessible to all founders, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Tracey: It’s an inspired idea. Margaret, you’ve worked with entrepreneurs, particularly female entrepreneurs, for 40 years. What are some of the fundamental problems faced by startups?

Margaret: Most startups don’t understand what investors need; sometimes, they don’t understand what the bank needs. So, we went to entrepreneurs in Australia, Asia-Pacific, and I’ve also done it in the States, to see if the entrepreneur or the venture is ready to get funding. And we find that the bank says no. In this case, whilst they know their business, they don’t know how to put this into the words or into the language that the investors understand. With Musa, we tried to make sure this language is understood by investors. We put it into 12 standardised pillars of business, which touch on operations, human resources, supply chain, and managerial capabilities. This model spans the three dimensions of what investors want.

Tando and Margaret Matanda
Tando and Margaret proudly support underrepresented and diverse founders to secure venture funding. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Tracey: It really is an absolutely brilliant idea. How exactly does the health assessment tool work?

Margaret: We asked founders to fill in a questionnaire or a measurement instrument, which we have developed based on research from different countries that indicates what investors are looking for. It assesses how a venture is doing on different dimensions, and most of these dimensions have to do with desirability. Is there somebody out there? Who loves the product? Who wants the product? Is it actually viable? Is the idea going to be sold or accepted? How big is the market? Can you actually, as a venture, can you deliver? Do you have the capabilities? Or do you have the money? If you don’t have the money, is there somebody who can give you money? That’s where we go to investors, and then you can defend, and this has to do with IP, the intellectual property and your ability to have a competitive edge within your market.

Tracey: So you’re looking at all the pieces of the puzzle?

Margaret: Yes.

Tracey: Tando, you’re particularly interested in underrepresented founders. Who are they? And why is this an area of passion for you?

Tando: I love the term underrepresented founders because it’s actually the other 90% of the world’s population. They’re merely people who are underrepresented in terms of the allocation of funding, in which 90% of venture funding goes to white males predominantly, which leaves people of colour and women in the tiny, tiny minority of the funding that they get. Yet, you see them over-indexed in terms of new businesses being started. When we say underrepresented, we are actually talking about everybody else; we’re talking about these incredibly diverse founders who have unique ideas and are often solving problems that they have seen within their own ecosystems in a way that somebody from Silicon Valley or MIT wouldn’t be trying to solve that problem – if they were trying to solve it at all.

Tracey: So there’s a flow-on effect socially and globally. The statistics are shocking. I mean, 3% of venture capitalists globally are women. And when it comes to black women, it’s well under 1%. Professor, when did you both decide, as mother and daughter, to work together on this?

Margaret: I have worked with women in development and small businesses for a long time. I’ve run an application development out of Cape Town for the past 25 years. Tando has complementary skills in that she does venture capital investments. When we do run organisations or we talk to founders, we find that most of them can’t raise money or can’t scale. And so the complementary capabilities were there. Tando knows how to raise money, so this was actually a perfect match for the two of us working together.

Tracey: Tando, what’s it like working with your mum?

Tando and Dr Margaret Matanda
Musa co-founders and dynamic mother-daughter duo, Tando and Dr Margaret Matanda. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Tando: Honestly, it is an incredible privilege to get to work with someone who has had such an impact within the entrepreneurship development space. I spent my life watching her change the lives of entrepreneurs in Agritech throughout southern Africa. Then, when I pulled this together and realised it had to be a platform, Musa had to be scalable to change hundreds of thousands of founder’s lives, it has to be a platform. And realising that the person I wanted to do this with was sitting across me on the kitchen table.

Tracey: And what a tremendous role model as well! Professor; you lived through apartheid, and you’ve helped so many entrepreneurs, particularly women in Sub-Saharan Africa. And yet, you say that this venture with your daughter will have more impact than even all of that. How does that make you feel?

Margaret: A lot of gratitude for getting the chance to do it. Because all this time when we worked on it, we worked with five to ten ventures. But this will help us to scale, to work together and touch so many lives is so inspirational to me. Sometimes I feel like crying, is it possible for me to be able to talk to 400 vendors in a week?

Tracey: Tando, what do the next ten years look like? What are your dreams?

Tando: We have set the audacious goal of funding 10,000. On one side, we have a network of VCs and lenders or funders who are looking for those opportunities. On the other side, we’ve created through this assessment and coaching process, the ability to reach a million ventures through channel partners. The ability to have 100,000 possible ventures do the venture assessments and create these dashboards so that we’re then able to match ventures with investors. So ten years from now, we want to be the go-to place for diverse founders looking to build healthy, robust businesses on one side. And then the standard of what objective, intelligent screening of opportunities looks like for venture capital and private equity, or private market more broadly.

Tracey: Margeret, what message would you like to send to someone who’s watching, who might be a founder or who might be thinking of having a startup, who’s from an underrepresented community?

Margaret: It’s possible for a founder if you can get the right guidance, or the right mentoring, or even the right tools, to be able to scale your venture to get funding because there are so many people with such beautiful ideas, but they don’t know what the best way to go about getting funding or to structure a business or even to put this idea to an investor. So we are saying that this platform can help anybody who is in that stage. We can work with them on a stage-by-stage basis because as we identify these 12 pillars of business in the four dimensions of the Musa platform, we are able to pinpoint exactly where the issue is. And we can work on that specific issue with them. We don’t work just within Musa, but we have an ecosystem of advisors. So if it’s a supply chain problem, you go to our supply chain ecosystem advisor; if it’s an operations problem, or if it’s a financial issue, then you have to go to the advisor or a specialist until you’re good enough on the assessment tool to be matched to an investor. It’s possible to get there.

Tracey: What does success look like to you?

Game Changers host Tracey Spicer speaks with Tando and Dr Margaret about Musa.
Game Changers host Tracey Spicer speaks with Tando and Margaret about Musa. Photo: Andrea Francolini

Tando: Our ethos is striving, equity and investments. And our north star is that we’re going to fund 10,000 diverse founders. We’re going to collect an array of investors and funders who are committed to diversity and equity inclusion in their own processes. And then we’re going to deploy capital to incredibly diverse founders around the world. It means we have to build 100,000 dashboards. But you know, we can certainly get there, and that’s success for us.

Tracey: This is creating global transformative structural change. You are both game changers. Thank you for joining us today.

Learn more about Musa here: https://www.musaventures.com/

Written by Tracey Spicer

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