Khula Lula: A fund which seeks to ensure the success of black women-led start-ups

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Founder of Khula Lula, Milisa Mabinza
Founder of Khula Lula, Milisa Mabinza
Obuyonke Mabinza
  • Khula Lula is a fund founded by Milisa Mabinza to address a lack of funding available to young black women-led start-ups.
  • The fund was birthed in 2019 a few days after the loss of her father.
  • The fund announced its first beneficiary in September. 

Milisa Mabinza's vision is clear - enabling black South African women's success in various fields of business where they have been previously disadvantaged.

This dream led to the birth of Khula Lula - a private equity firm - in 2019 when Mabinza committed to providing funding opportunities to businesses and start-ups that would ordinarily not have access to those resources.

The idea was born a few days after the death of Mabinza's father.

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"It was born as an idea three days after his passing, something in my spirit moved me to create this as a remembrance," she said.

The goal? To address the lack of capital funding opportunities available to young black women-led start-ups in the tech field.

Fast forward a couple of months and the micro-financing VC fund revealed its first beneficiary: Native Nylon, a fashion e-commerce platform with the launch date of November 2020.

"It has been important for me to pursue this path because we need more catalysts for change in the venture capital landscape which are actively prioritising the funding of black women founders," Mabinza said.

Native Nylons Portia Dhlamini pictured with Milisa
Native Nylon's Portia Dhlamini pictured with Milisa Mabinza of Khula Lula
Obuyonke Mabinza

She added while she would love to fund the maximum number of black women, the intention was to also ensure that business ideas of beneficiaries could successfully be taken to market and to put in the work to ensure they were scalable.

"There is a narrative that black women-owned businesses are not investable and are not capable of the success of their counterparts, and it is important to be the model that exemplifies that excellence and it takes further financial commitment, resources and effort to do so for each start-up we invest in." 

According to the sole founder of Khula Lula, it was too early to tell whether its investment would yield return but remained optimistic and committed to putting in the work to ensure the start-ups brought up optimal returns on investments.

READ | Basani Maluleke, the first black woman to lead an SA bank, resigns as African Bank CEO

Mabinza hoped that in the long term, she did not only create access to funding but also opened doors for career opportunities for women interested in getting careers in the space.

"I would like to introduce a venture scout programme, fellowship programme and have a full-time team in place of incredible specialists. There are so many possibilities that I am excited about."

She said while there was no rush to chase investors, Khula Lula would love to raise external funding to see its goals for the fund through.

"That will come in time. As an investor myself, it is important to ensure we have the capacity for the commitments we are trying to take on, and we want to do everything in an efficient and effective way for the optimal outcome of any investors we want to bring on as a client in future," Mabinza added.

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