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Who is Novastar?

Novastar is an investment firm founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, combining decades of entrepreneurial, competitive strategy and venture fund management experience.


Steve Beck


Steve’s professional career combines 20 years’ strategy consulting and business leadership experience with six years of professional grant-making in frontier markets and a decade of investing in early stage businesses serving the mass, low-income markets in Africa. Steve earned an A.B. with Distinction from Stanford University in Economics and International Relations, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He is married with three daughters, and despite his California roots, lived in London from 1984 to 2002.


Andrew Carruthers


Andrew was born in Lesotho and spent part of his youth in Ethiopia and Kenya. After 20 years in Venture Capital managing 12 different funds across Europe and Asia, his experience now encompasses business creation, corporate finance, capital markets as well as operational experience in innovative, high growth sectors. Having started investing in emerging markets in 2008, co-founding Novastar has been the excuse to return to his ‘roots’ in Africa and apply his skills and experience here. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Andrew qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG. He is married with three children.


Niraj Varia


A native Kenyan, Niraj leverages his international professional experience as an actuary, management consultant and entrepreneur to support entrepreneurs and their businesses that generate large-scale social impact as a result of their commercial success. Niraj joined Novastar at its inception in March 2014. He earned an honours degree in Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.


Kim Tan


Kim is a successful serial entrepreneur and private investor who is dedicated to fighting poverty through enterprise and helping others do the same. Having created and sold three biotech ventures himself, Kim is intimately familiar with the entrepreneurial journey. Raised in rural Malaysia, he also has a first-hand understanding of the challenges of entrepreneurial life ‘on the frontier’. With more than 15 years’ experience investing in sub-Saharan Africa, Kim supports Novastar and its portfolio on a part-time basis. Kim has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.


Sapna Shah

Investment Director

Born and raised in Kenya, Sapna’s international banking experience focused on working with entrepreneurs and SMEs at various stages of their business lifecycle in the UK, US, Europe and the Middle East. She returned to Kenya in 2012 to continue her passion for working with entrepreneurs, this time as an investor, and co-founder of a start-up. She joined the Novastar team in May 2015. Sapna graduated from the London School of Economics with a Bsc (Hons) in Government and Economics.


Brian Odhiambo

Investment Director

Born and raised in Kenya, Brian’s career has been an entrepreneurial adventure across West, Southern and East Africa. Immediately after graduating from Yale University with honors, he joined the management team that started Jumia, a leading and award-winning e-commerce platform across Africa. Brian then co-founded Zamsolar, a last-mile distribution company in Zambia and later was Operations Director for Livelyhoods, a last mile distribution social enterprise in Nairobi. He joined Novastar as an Investment Associate in January 2015.


Dotun Olowoporoku

Associate Director

Dotun leverages his experience and expertise as a former tech startup founder to help entrepreneurs build innovative high-growth businesses in Africa. He started his career as an academic after his PhD in environmental management at UWE, Bristol. He founded an on-demand food delivery platform in the UK and led its strategic partnership with Just Eat Plc. He then founded Starta Advisory focusing on developing high capacity startup founders in Africa through entrepreneurship development programs and content. He joined Novastar in January 2019. Dotun grew up in Nigeria and has a BSc from the University of Lagos.


Abel Boreto

Investment Associate

Born and raised in Kenya, Abel left to study in the USA in 2007. After graduating from Harvard University in 2011, he started his career as a Credit Research Analyst at Bloomberg in Princeton, NJ. In 2014, Abel returned to Kenya to co-found Sarora Dairies Limited, a milk processing and retail distribution company in Eldoret, Kenya. He exited the dairy business in 2018 and joined Tulaa Technology Services Ltd., a technology platform providing smallholder farmers with access to quality inputs on credit and markets, as Head of Market Linkage. He joined Novastar Ventures as an Investment Associate in June 2019.


Naa Kome-Mensah

Investment Associate

Naa was born and raised in Ghana and left to pursue her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, in 2012. She began her career as a Corporate Banking Analyst at JP Morgan in New York City, and spent time as an Associate in the bank’s corporate venture arm, targeting fintech companies primarily in the payments space. Naa moved to Nairobi in August 2019 to join Novastar as an Investment Associate.


Michele Gatemi

Project Manager

Born and raised in Kenya, Michele followed her passion for positive social impact in the community through undergraduate studies in Law and graduate studies in Governance, Peace and Security. Michele then worked as a Legal Assistant at Sanergy, a Novastar portfolio company innovating solutions to the problem of slum sanitation. She joined Novastar in February 2018 and leverages her legal training and organizational experience as a project manager to ensure the smooth running of Novastar’s day-to-day operations.


Bethel Tsegaye


Born and brought up in Addis Ababa, Bethel left to study in the UK, returning to Ethiopia in 2013.  Bethel worked as an Investment Fund Manager for Mercy Corps Ethiopia on a USAID funded project for 3 years. Her role as an Investment Fund Manager involved setting up a $6M investment fund, screening companies and selecting and structuring grant agreements and contracts, and managing the portfolio of six companies. Based in Addis Ababa, Bethel supports Novastar on investments in Ethiopia.


Florence Muchoki

Senior Accountant

Florence joined the Novastar team in April 2016, taking responsibility for our finance and accounting function in Kenya. Before joining Novastar, Florence worked as an Assistant Accountant for East Africa Reinsurance which conducts business in local and international markets. Florence is an affiliate of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, UK. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Pune University, India.


Eunice Mathu

Executive Assistant

Born in Kenya, Eunice relocated back to Kenya in October 2018 after 11 years of work and study in the UK, including a BSc in Psychology and an MA in International Development. Eunice is deeply passionate about gender issues particularly in the area of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Since her return to Nairobi, she has initiated a start-up project working with female sex workers in the city of Nairobi.  Eunice joined Novastar in May 2019 as an Executive Assistant.