D.C. Moore, WG '05
I am the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of a private equity firm that invests growth equity in African small- and mid-cap businesses. We prioritize industrials and light infrastructure firms across a number of different sectors – e.g., pharmaceuticals, renewables, waste management, agriculture, etc. The firm is the culmination of everything my partner and I (Ije Ikoku WG 2006) have done before and after Wharton, so we are extremely passionate about it. The strategy provides us the opportunity to generate significant commercial returns; while supporting African entrepreneurs/management (especially women), creating jobs, making infrastructure more resilient and addressing climate challenges.
Why did you decide to pursue this venture?
I feel like I’ve been building towards it my entire life. I was a military kid, so I had the chance to live abroad when I was young and really enjoyed it. As an engineer, I had the chance to work in the Dominican Republic prior to applying to Wharton. In my Wharton essays I wrote that I wanted to end up blending my engineering skillset with business and finance skills, in an emerging market. I did not know much about PE at the time but the goal continued to evolve throughout my career. I chose McKinsey out of business school because they had a presence in Africa. It gave me the opportunity to work there. By the time I was leaving McKinsey I knew that I wanted to apply my operational skillset to investments. When I accepted my previous role, as CIO of a Pan-African industrial and infra firm, I knew what I wanted to do after I left. The only uncertainty was timing. I had the opportunity to spend 9 years executing, and refining, an investment strategy we feel will be a fundamentally different approach for the region.
What has the journey been like?
We launched our fund in January 2020, right before the pandemic. You hear and read how tough entrepreneurship is, especially when you are trying to get your business of the ground. I was prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared for a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Honestly, you learn a lot about how resilient you can be. You also learn a lot about the people in your network and your team. I’ve been lucky enough to have a ton of people who will take a call, provide a reference, give me feedback/advice, etc. We’ve also been lucky enough to have a team that is willing to put in the work during a period of extreme uncertainty and volatility. As it stands, we have been able to weather the storm, get closer to interested investors and significantly grow our pipeline of deals. We also have entrepreneurs who value our expertise and approach. That’s allowed us to work closely with them during a period of uncertainty for them. We are happy with where we are and look forward to making more progress through the end of the year.
How can alumni support your venture?
If they are, or know of other investors, looking for high commercial and impact returns please feel free to reach out. We have been successful in connecting with investors looking to diversify and Africa is an underexplored region for investment. Especially in private equity. Also, not specific to us, continue to support others who reach out to you for advice or insight. That may not help our venture directly but it has meant a lot to us and we’ll definitely continue to pay it forward. We’re all better off when the network is strong.
For more information, www.griotpartners.com