Serena Williams’s Firm Invests in Nigerian Data Provider Stears

By Hillary Essien | Oct 11, 2022

Serena Williams’ venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, has invested in Nigerian data and insights company Stears Inc. in a $3.3 million seed round led by MaC Venture Capital.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the financing round pushes Stears’ total cumulative funding to $4 million, following a 2019 pre-seed round led by Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund.

Ms Williams had announced that she would turn more of her attention to investing following her retirement from tennis after the US Open in September.

“One of the main reasons I invested in Stears is not because of my love and appreciation for Africa, but because Stears has strategically thought of how to increase the investment community on the continent,” Ms Williams is quoted as saying in an emailed statement. “They’re aware of the complexities and have leverage with data and technology, and I truly respect what they’re doing.”

The $3.3 million seed round was led by MaC Venture Capital. Serena Ventures, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Melo 7 Tech Partners and Cascador (Empowering Economic Growth Foundation) also participated.

Stears was launched in 2017 by four co-founders, Michael Famoroti, an economist; Bode Ogunlana, a software engineer; Abdul Abdulrahim, a data scientist; and Preston Ideh, a corporate lawyer, who met during secondary school at Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja, Nigeria, and at the London School of Economics and Imperial College in the United Kingdom.

The data firm produces interactive data and analysis visualisations. In 2019, Stears created Nigeria’s first real-time election tracker, which drew two million unique users during the general election cycle and attracted widespread readership and investor attention to the main site.

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