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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.


Asha Mweru

Investment Associate

Born and raised in Kenya, Asha’s career has focused on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ventures in Africa.  In December 2017 Asha joined Novastar, bringing her experience co-founding and running her own companies and implementing and executing strategies for startups, SMEs and entrepreneurial support providers. In 2018 she was selected as a Fellow to participate in Facebook’s Community Leadership Program as a result of her work developing #womenworkke. WomenWork is a community of women supporting one another around the particular challenges that face women in the workplace in Kenya.


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.