A Dynamic Mother-Daughter Duo Creating A More Equitable World – One Venture At A Time

By Giulia Sirignani
on 19 March 2024

In today’s challenging financial landscape, securing funding and attracting investors has become more difficult than ever. Women get a paltry part of the funding pie, and minorities even less. 

Tando Matanda and her mother Margaret, both dedicated to driving impact, are doing something about that. In the latest series of Game Changers, they sit down with Tracey Spicer to talk about the data-driven platform they’ve created that works to remove the barrier for both receiving and deploying funds equitably.

Imagine a world where women attracted the same sums of venture capital as men (currently they receive about 3% of global VC). Where black women receive the same amount as white women. Where minorities are treated equitably. And where funding allocation, from debt to equity funding,  is completely free of colour, gender, racial and all forms of bias.

Tando and Margaret Matanda can – and they are doing something about it. 

It’s called Musa – the world’s first intelligent Venture Health Assessment platform. Small and medium enterprises/Start-up founders get fast seamless access to valuable sector, market, and venture insights displayed on intuitive and easy-to-follow dashboards, as well as real-time feedback on areas that need improvement and some recommendations. Whilst funders, from commercial lenders to VC, get a holistic lens to bolster their assessment process and gain a deeper understanding of their ventures’ potential.

The vision is to create a truly data-driven investment ecosystem that removes the barrier for both receiving and deploying funds equitably.

By using Musa’s analytical tools, high-growth ventures can gain valuable insights, objective assessments, and the capabilities required to fundraise and scale.

“What we’ve done is really use advances in technology to allow a central place where the founders can go, look at the benchmarks, look at the industry standards and compare their businesses. We have built Musa with the mission and vision of driving equity and investments. Essentially, we’ve created an intelligent, AI-driven platform that allows the sourcing, screening and the scaling of diverse ventures.” says Tando Matanda who is Musa’s Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder. 

“Both investors (funders) and founders can use it to assess the health of a venture, and then undo that holistically, resolve those areas and thereby ensure that they’re matching what the investor is looking for, with the investments they are ready for themselves,” Tando says. 

“In most cases, when you are working with a small business, they don’t have a very clear idea on how to present their business or their proposition to investors. The (Musa) platform helps to standardize the information required and ensures it can be presented to the investors in the correct way,” says Margaret Matanda, Musa’s Chief Strategy Officer & Co-founder. 

Tando and Margaret Matanda from Musa Ventures speak to Tracey Spicer on Game Changers
Tando and Margaret Matanda from Musa speak to Tracey Spicer on the set of Game Changers Credit: Andrea Francolini

“There are very specific things which investors want. And these 12 things fall under the 12 pillars of business. They look at operations, human resources, supply chain, investment funding and market. We actually check how a start-up is doing and improve and talk to our ecosystem of advisors on how to improve its performance in each of those 12 pillars,” adds Margaret. 

With investors looking for a needle in an ever-growing haystack, and the number of small and medium enterprises/start-ups seeking investment skyrocketing, it’s a challenging feat to secure funding. Approximately 250 million budding businesses  globally are underfinanced. 

Musa is not only leveling the playing field, says Tando, but acts as a secret key to unlocking the funding treasure box. 

“How? Because we’ve moved away from the pitch deck. We have created a dashboard that’s representative of the investment paper that an investor would create on their side. We walk the founders through this process, connect them to the different resources. We enable them to understand the metrics that matter to investors, so that they can be more attractive to the investors when they talk to them,” she says.

But it’s the so-called underrepresented founders that Tando and Margaret are particularly motivated to help.

“I love the term ‘underrepresented founders’ because it’s actually 90% of the world’s population. They’re mainly just people who are underrepresented in terms of the allocation of funding, in which 90% of venture funding goes to white males predominantly, and which leaves people of colour and women out. So, when we say underrepresented, we are talking about everybody else, meaning, this incredibly diverse founder pool who have unique ideas and who 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,” Tando says.

Musa’s own founder story is as inspirational as the start-ups its aiming to assist. 

The number of VCs who are black women, let alone mother and daughters, is well under one per cent. Musa’s founders are a rare powerhouse team launching a platform that’s disrupting the world of VCs and start-ups. And then there’s the mountain of experience both Tando and Margaret bring. 

Tando holds a Masters in Strategy and Innovation from the University of Cambridge and started her career as a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group. Prior to Musa, Tando set up and led Australiaʼs first auto-tech CVC for a world-leading auto digital marketplace. Passionate about empowering underrepresented founders, Tando is an investment committee member for the Black Excellence Fund.

Zimbabwean born, Margaret escaped apartheid by moving to Lesotho. She has over 30 years of experience as a university professor and development consultant, building ventures in Africa, APAC and USA. With an MBA, MPA, and PhD she has been a Fulbright-Hubert-Humphrey, USAID, Commonwealth and Kellogg Fellow and has conducted research and entrepreneurship development projects for some of the world’s largest organisations while helping to set up some of the first entrepreneurship development programs in sub-Sahara Africa. She’s currently a Professor of Strategy, Supply Chain and Branding at the University of Sydney.

When Tando was imagining an intelligent Venture Health Assessment platform, it dawned on her how the person who could most help in the venture was right under her nose. Her Mum.

“It’s 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 changing the lives of entrepreneurs throughout southern Africa. When I was pulling together Musa and thinking how it needed to be scalable and change hundreds of thousands of founders’ lives, I realised that the person I wanted to do this with was sitting across me at the kitchen table. She is, one of the smartest, most impressive people that I know,” says Tando. 

“I feel gratitude for getting the chance to do it,” adds Margaret. “We have complementary capabilities. I have worked all my life in women in development. It’s always such a good feeling to see that the next generation is picking up the torch on how to improve the lives of so many people who may not otherwise get the chance.”

The name Musa pays homage to Tando and Margaret’s ancestry and the golden age of Africa’s rich and vibrant history. It speaks to a time when benevolent leaders like Mansa Musa of Mali, a 14th century West African Emperor, harnessed the ample resources of the continent to empower his people through commerce and scholarship.

Emboldened by an awe-inspiring name, Musa’s founders are equally audacious in their goals.

“Funding 10,000 diverse founders is our North Star,” declares Tando, and that’s billions of dollars from an array of different investors flowing through the 100,000 founders or so that we’ve built dashboards for, all of whom have been coached to become healthy businesses. That’s what success looks like. It looks like changing the metric in terms of that 3% of investment going to female founders and a fraction going to women of colour.”

“Success for me is seeing an improvement in the number of underfunded (founders), getting funding, improving their businesses and being able to scale that capital,” Margaret says before adding thoughtfully; “When you come to the end of your life and can say ‘we’ve helped so many enterprises; we’ve helped so many ventures – I think you would look back and say to yourself, thank you God, for giving me this chance.”

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