About us

The Empress Fund is an Angel Investment Fund established by a syndicate group of high net- worth individuals from across the African continent and diaspora, to invest in the growth of women-owned and women-enabling businesses.

Access to finance for women entrepreneurs on the continent is a major challenge with prohibitive terms and conditions that prevent their growth. The fund was established to provide innovative financing solutions to meet the unique needs of Africa’s Women Entrepreneurs.

The Fund is managed by Africa Trust Group based in Cape Town, South Africa and specializes in innovative financing vehicles from $1000 to $50,000 for women-owned and women-enabling businesses in SADC.

The Empress Fund is an evergreen fund that offers women entrepreneurs innovative financing solutions ranging from $1000 - $20,000 in the agri-processing, energy and climate sectors.

We empower women to help level the playing field and drive progressive change, whilst still delivering outstanding returns for our investors. We hope not only to show that a better way is possible but inspire others to follow.


There is an annual $132 billion funding gap in the Agri-processing, clean energy and climate sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.

There exists a global $3trillion gap in financing for businesses that do not meet venture capital requirements nor have enough assets to meet collateral requirements of traditional lending.

“It is important for us as investors to be increasingly innovative in the financing solutions we employ to support women’s businesses. As an investor group, providing different types of financing for the differing business needs is what sets us apart. We also strongly believe locally produced goods that create value chains are best and should be prioritised over imports.”
Faith Mukutu
Regional Chairperson for the Angel syndicate group. FCCA, AZICA CFO, Zambeef Products PLC
Our Approach

Our unique capabilities are highlighted in a 3-pronged approach

The fund will utilise instruments such as revenue-financing vehicles, non-asset backed lending, drawdown accounts and other fit for purpose and context instruments                                      

The vehicles will be invested for short-medium term purposes (3 - 36months) to boost early stage growth and position the businesses for follow-on equity investment from ATG's Equity Funds and/other investors - thus providing investors with a sure exit.

Leaders set the tone, pace and culture of an organisation. Therefore, ensuring that the entrepreneur is developing both their personal leadership capacity and business skills is cardinal to creating a growing enterprise that can scale and remain relevant in dynamic market environments.

Our online platform Startupcircles.ai helps entrepreneurs to build commercially viable businesses and provides them guidance and access to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and investors. The platform makes the startup journey more enjoyable and less lonely for entrepreneurs.

Visit our online Startup School here: StartupCircles.ai

Empress Fund provides research and advisory on innovating financing vehicles and gender-lens investing.

Our Team


Lelemba Phiri
Principal and Fund Manager

Gender, development finance, angel investing, public & private sector experience, marketing. PhD Candidate

Mary-Ann De Wet
Chief Financial Officer

Finance & strategy, modelling and investments, M & As, tax, compliance and due diligence, regulation MCom. International Tax

Trish Nelson
Chief Compliance Officer

Commercial legal advisor, attorney of the high court, contracts law, compliance management, mediator, disputes resolution. LLB

Kaleo Maoka
Portfolio Manager

Portfolio & project management, clients & contracts management, key stakeholder relations, marketing MBA (GIBS)



Investment distribution by sector


The Empress Fund was established as an Angel Syndicate Fund by African Angel Investors. It is currently open for fundraising and investment from individual and instititutional investors. Current institutional investors include the Shell Foundation UK.

For all enquiries, please email us using the form below

Contact Us