Official Response to Allegations of Intellectual Property Theft Against Future Africa

Official Response to Allegations of Intellectual Property Theft Against Future Africa
November 8, 2021 Iyin Aboyeji

Dear Community,

Our attention has been called to a certain publication on Substack and a follow-up on Twitter alleging falsely that Future Africa infringed on the intellectual property of a founder who filled a funding application on our website. We wish to categorically state that this is false and the allegation that has been made is baseless and unfounded. 

Future Africa’s mission is to build the future in Africa by investing early in mission-driven founders solving hard problems in large markets. We work with Africa’s largest community of investors to provide capital, coaching and community for founders who are turning Africa’s biggest challenges into global businesses. Our vision is to build a society where prosperity and purpose is within everyone’s reach. Given our mission and values, we cannot be involved in theft of intellectual property. 

We are reaching out to you today as a member of our community because we have an obligation to let you know that as a trusted partner for founders including many successful companies worth billions of dollars we take founders intellectual property very seriously. 

 

Here are the facts: 

1.The founder of Norebase is the former General Counsel of Future Africa. Following his resignation from Future Africa, we invested in his company as per our standard investment process. However, it is important to note that we are far from a major shareholder or stakeholder in Norebase. In fact, we own less than 1% of the company. That said, whether we own 0% or 100% of the company, we would never breach the trust founders place in us.

2.We received an application to pitch for funding on 10th of May, 2021 via the standard form on our website. We would like to clearly state that the company did not attach any deck or investment materials to their application. As per standard process, the automated email messaging system sent a response to the email address as we have done for the over 1,000 applications that are made to us every year. Every application is reviewed exclusively by the investment team in a secure information management system the legal team has no access to. The investment team in this case concluded the startup was not compelling enough to advance beyond that point in our process. Please note that our legal team does not review applications to pitch for funding and typically only gets involved after we have expressed an interest in funding a startup. Hence given the facts it is simply impossible for anyone outside the investment team to have seen their application or investment materials as falsely alleged.

3.Since announcing the Future Africa Fund in January 2020, our team has received over 2000 applications from startup founders. In 2021, we’ve received over 1200 applications. Out of this large number, we have only invested in 31 startups this year. Unfortunately, we cannot invest in all startups who apply to pitch us for funding especially since many companies simply do not meet our criteria for investing. We believe this was one such case. We wish the founder well but would like to remind the public that we are not obligated to fund every pitch we receive.

Finally, we are confident these allegations are baseless and untrue. To fully demonstrate the transparency of our investment process, we will engage a global professional services firm to independently investigate these allegations and then on the basis of the published findings proceed to take appropriate legal action. 

I am thankful as always for your support. Let us all now go back to our important work of building the future!

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji,

Founder and General Partner,

Future Africa.

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