Maria Pienaar: Making the cut
Maria Pienaar is looking for businesses worth backing with money, mentoring and introductions to her Silicon Valley networks. She hopes to send ten such ventures out into the world in the next three years.
The former CIO of Cell C hatched the idea with business partner Tallies Taljaard, and persuaded Blue Label Telecoms founders Mark and Brett Levy to finance it. The result – Blue Label Ventures – is now working with its first three protégés.
“Our mandate is to stimulate entrepreneurs who can solve problems for Africa and help them grow and potentially scale into other markets,” she says. Blue Label Ventures will invest cash in return for equity, and influence the business development, channel development and market acquisition by tapping into its global network of potential customers and private equity partners. “That’s a powerful platform for us to grow and scale companies that are coming out of the incubation phase and commercialising their technologies and services. We don’t focus on incubation, we focus on growth,” she says.