Empress Fund

Innovative Financing Solutions For African Women Entrepreneurs


Founded in 2020, Empress Fund invests in high-potential early-stage women-led companies operating in the Agriculture, Energy and Climate ecosystem in Eastern and Southern Africa. While investing in the entrepreneurs, we aim to test new financial instruments to understand the extent to which they can enable a more gender-equitable ecosystem.


Empress Fund offers innovative financing instruments to build more gender-equitable ecosystems. We offer and test early stage financial instruments for investing in agriculture, climate, energy and tertiary sectors that support these three core industries.

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 Pranary 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: Pranary

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

Sectors We Support

There is a reported EUR 2,5 trillion gap in financing for businesses that do not fit the typical venture capital profile nor meet the collateral needs for traditional lending. This gap is said to disproportionately impact women entrepreneurs and may partially explain the gender financing gap that exists in the agri and energy ecosystems. The Empress fund was established to address and play a key role in closing this financing gap by developing and deploying innovative financial instruments. The outcome should lead to a more gender- equitable agriculture ecosystem.


Contact us to learn more


Contact us to learn more


Contact us to learn more

Empress Portfolio

Innovators. Visionaries.

Mo's Crib - South Africa

Mo's Crib was one of the first companies we invested in, and their founding team was a big factor in our decision. Their drive to protect the environment while pushing for innovation proved that our early-stage decision to invest in them was the right one.


Ma Joye's passion to work with women farmers in her community was a huge indication that we had a similar vision to eradicate poverty by empowering other women within the ecosystem. Since then, Umgibe has become one of the most talked about companies in South Africa's Pietermaritzburg, supporting over 3, 000 women smallholder farmers.


When we first met the founders of 3DIMO, we knew their technology would reform the way farmers traded in Africa. Their technology not only created a community for farmers but empowered them through a marketplace that enabled others to invest in agricultural assets on the African continent.


Lelemba Phiri

Principal & 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 Nakazwe

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


Strategic partnerships



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