Ovamba was founded in 2013 in the US by long-time friends, Viola Llewellyn and Marvin Cole, who saw an opportunity to help empower fellow entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East by providing them with the access to finance needed in order to flourish their businesses. The problem they were solving was twofold; firstly, banks were slow and ill-equipped to adapt to meet the demands of fast moving African small businesses; and secondly, banks’ limited due diligence procedures made it hard for entrepreneurs with no previous track record to get started.
Marvin and Viola decided to combine their experience of the finance and technology sectors and build a platform that would offer fast access to business growth support delivered via mobile phone. Complementing its world-class technology, the platform further set itself apart by offering the ability to analyse real-time risk in Africa based on deep traditional and cultural knowledge from on-the-ground teams, thereby creating a system of both technical and local know-how.
In 2014, Ovamba attracted significant investment from UK-based GLI Finance, whose backers include Blackrock Global, AXA Investment Managers and Barclays Wealth. Ovamba then set up its first operations in Cameroon – a country with over 200 local languages, Muslim and Christian communities, and an economy almost entirely comprised of SMEs. It was the perfect place to prove the model.
With a strong track record of successful transactions, in 2016 Ovamba attracted further investment from other investment platforms, such as Japan’s leading fintech emerging markets investor – Crowdcredit. This has enabled Ovamba to expand its operations into multiple geographies.
Marvin Cole is the President, CEO, Founder, and Chief Leadership Officer of Ovamba Solutions, Inc. At Ovamba, Mr. Cole brings “best practice” due diligence and deal structuring to the Ovamba platform. He oversees risk underwriting,business intelligence, pricing, and analysis teams, and directs collaborative partnerships with global trading houses, banks and institutional investors. Mr. Cole is a McKinsey & Company alum where he worked as a consultant in their Johannesburg branch. Prior to McKinsey, He was the co-founder of Praxis Asset Management and Praxis Management Advisors, boutique investment management consultancy firms that focused on emerging markets. He has served as an M&A consulting advisor with Deloitte Consulting LLP serving private equity clients within the United States and Europe.
Viola Llewellyn is the Co-Founder and Global President, Cameroon General Manager. Ms. Llewellyn oversees the execution of strategy, daily operations, marketing and new business development for Ovamba. She and her team also work closely with investors and African Civil Society Groups. Her previous consulting roles have been in the health care, technology, media, education, security and communications fields. Ms. Llewellyn has over 15 years of project management and consulting experience from the technology and Government sectors in the United States.
Prashant Mahajan brings to Ovamba more than 10 years of expert coding and software engineering expertise across a variety of markets. He has worked in online commerce, finance, and custom R&D firms where he led teams of up to 25 coders building big data analytical tools and financial engineering systems designed to meet the needs of one of America’s largest financial services firms. He is an engineering graduate in Computer Science from GGSIPU, New Delhi – where he won the best B.Tech project award.
Mr. Sheahan is a member of the Board of Ovamba Solutions Inc. Mr. Sheahan is the Executive Vice President of Systems Made Simple, Inc. Mr. Sheahan has provided business development and strategy advice to the board of directors since 2009. He oversees all sales and marketing activities including account management, proposal development and corporate strategy. Mr. Sheahan started his career in information technology as a systems engineer for Electronic Data Systems (HP). He then joined Digital Equipment Corporation as a senior marketing specialist and later a sales executive for the U.S. Navy accounts. In 1993, Mr. Sheahan joined Information Management Consultants, Inc. where he helped grow the company to $35M and graduate from the SBA 8(a) program. Mr. Sheahan has been president of Pathfinders International, LLC, a government relations firm he founded in 1992 before joining the board of directors and executive management team of Systems Made Simple, Inc. Mr. Sheahan has a 25 year history of assisting organizations develop and execute marketing and sales strategies to achieve rapid and sustained revenue growth. He studied business administration at George Mason University and Strayer University and holds a BSBA. He also did his graduate studies in economics at Virginia Polytechnical and State University in Blacksburg, VA.