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Meet Caroline Wanjiku, cofounder of Daproim Africa, and Victor Basta, CEO of DAI Magister, and learn how one intrepid Kenyan entrepreneur overcame adversity to transform her bootstrapped social enterprise into a strategic acquisition.

Caroline’s entrepreneurial journey began like most other ambitious founders. She and her business partner (and eventual husband) created Daproim in 2006 with a vision to make Kenya a destination for IT outsourcing. A chance encounter with the Rockefeller Foundation in 2011 led to a grant and a realization that the business they were building was also a social enterprise. Caroline explains:

“We were employing friends, women, mainly people who were from underprivileged backgrounds. So, when we bumped into Rockefeller Foundation they were quick to tell us that what you are doing is actually called social impact. You know, we didn't have a word for it until then.”

A few years and 500 employees later, a tragic turn of events changed everything. On the day she was giving birth to her first child, her husband and cofounder also entered the hospital with a life-threatening disease. Caroline had no choice but to take on the role of CEO.

“My first reaction was like, I can't do this. And one of my mentors came and visited me and told me, "You know what? You need to do it for your child. Find a way to gather yourself, take as much time as you need, but the goal is to make sure that this business continues."

Victor Basta also believes in the power of mentorship, especially in an ecosystem like Africa where “hardly anybody’s done an playbook hasn’t been written.” Victor helps fast-growing, tech-enabled businesses like Daproim do everything from raising capital to acquisitions. And when Caroline was approached by StepWise, an American outsourcing company, she sought out mentors again to help her understand the deal on the table and keep her emotions in check.

Victor advises “don't talk to very many people about it because you are going to be in sell mode because of the lack of experience. It would be useful to be able to find somebody in your broader orbit that has actually gone through it. You know, they may help you at least avoid going what I would call guardrail to guardrail with your emotions.”

In February 2020, the day before the lockdown, StepWise acquired Daproim. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing and Caroline admits to mistakes and misunderstandings, namely assuming that she would remain as CEO after the acquisition.

“So in my mind, I thought automatically I'd remain as CEO. So, I didn't have any doubts. I didn't think I needed to bring it up until later. I'd advise anyone to just make sure you talk about everything and not to assume.”

When Caroline eventually decided to move on from Daproim, it was not without the advice of her trusted mentors. Listen to Caroline’s amazing story and Victor’s insights to learn how to prepare for the unexpected and avoid potential pitfalls—before, during and after an acquisition.

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