#72, Eloho Gihan-Mbelu – The challenges of building startups to scaleups in Africa

My guest today is Eloho Gihan-Mbelu; she is the founding Managing Director & CEO of Endeavor Nigeria. Endeavor is a mission-oriented, global organisation that is supporting high-impact entrepreneurship in close to 40 underserved markets across the world. Eloho and I got introduced a few years ago when she started her role with Endeavor Nigeria, and I find her intellectual honesty very refreshing. You can get more of her thoughts on her twitter handle @elohoGM. In this episode, we discussed her early career journey as an investment banker and then in private equity focussed on African growth companies. We discussed her perspectives on the infrastructural and the regulatory challenges of building a startup to scale up in Africa. We also discussed the opportunities that COVID presents for accelerating digital demand on the continent. And how to set up a board at different stages of company life. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did.

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • Why did Eloho choose to work with Nigerian companies?
  • The two key factors that contributed to the growth of the African startup Ecosystem
  • Formulating investment thesis for growth-stage companies in Africa
  • There are numerous infrastructural and regulatory challenges to building a startup to scale up in Africa…what’s her take?
  • Infrastructural, regulatory and macroeconomic challenges of building a company in Africa
  • The difference between startups and scaleups
  • What is the right size for a board of a growing company?
  • Her tested methods for making the most from your board meeting


  • (03:00) Her journey to Endeavour Nigeria, why she wanted to work with Nigerian companies.
  • (15: 22) How resilience helped build the African startup market
  • (27:32) Factors founders need to consider in making the right decisions in the face of competition
  • (31:07) Her thoughts around how to set up a board of directors at different stages of a company’s life.
  • (33:57) How board members should be engaged to get the best results.
  • (43:00) What she thinks is the right support that businesses need.
  • (48:52) Her approach to achieving a healthy work-life balance.
  • (51:12) Her current reading list and the new perspective she has recently garnered about business

Books she’s currently reading

Water dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz

Twitter handle @ElohoGM

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Episode 72