Black Excellence: Kanyi Maqubela’s Move From Homeless Refugee To Creating A $100 Million Investment Fund

by Duke Magazine

Often than not, success stories of refugees are underrated and not reported by media. Their status as refugees can be said to be the major factor for this marginalization of not being celebrated, as it is a tilt from their normal discourse of crime and social vices.

However, despite the seeming lack of growing interest in the economic persuasion of refugees which leads to job creation, some of their success stories have attracted the world’s attention.  Kanyi Maqubela’s story is one out of many stories that have triggered inspiration. He migrated to the US with his family as refugees from South Africa.

The US remains one of the favorite destinations of refugees worldwide partly due to their refugee policies and their respect for human rights, although those were nearly wiped out during the Trump administration.

Kanyi arrived in the US at the height of the apartheid regime in South Africa. After living in disparate conditions in his own country, he and his family believed migrating to the US is the best bet for them. Fortunately, Kanyi has become a successful entrepreneur in the US and his parents got employed.

Kanyi co-founded Kindred Ventures with Steve Jang after successfully raising $56 million. Kindred Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital fund based in San Francisco, California. 

According to Shoppe Black, Kindred Ventures has invested in over 40 companies located in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa. Previous Kindred Ventures investments count companies like Uber, Coinbase, and Virgin Hyperloop One.

Also, Kanyi recently raised $100 million in capital commitments from a mix of major university endowments, foundations, fund-of-funds, and strategic investors, according to TechCrunch.

In addition to co-founding Kindred Ventures, the Soweto born is also a co-founder of Heartbeat Health, a telehealth platform for cardiology that incorporates telemedicine, remote diagnostics, and digital heart health programs.

As Kanyi can boast of himself founding the only virtual heart health app with video visits and at-home diagnostics. The app now has over 20,000 patients or subscribers as per its figures in 2019.

Despite making it in the US, Kanyi and his family’s story ‘in the land of freedom’ was not all rosy. They lived in a homeless shelter and were on food stamps until his mother got a job as an ESL teacher at Fashion Institute of Technology, and his father got a job as a cashier and coat checker at the Museum of Natural History, according to Shoppe Black.

Today, both parents are not only gainfully employed, but they are both accomplished educators while Kanyi did undergraduate and graduate studies at Stanford University, where he majored in Philosophy, and studied among others computer science, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

He taught elementary and middle school math and science and claimed to have worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign team. “I really enjoyed being on the teaching team for Design Your Life, a class for undergraduates out of the Stanford Design Program,” he says on his website.

“We’re over-mentored and under-capitalized,” the venture capitalist told Bloomberg on why Black businesses need investment than activism. “I believe there’s an opportunity to use the acute national attention to catalyze structural change but it doesn’t happen on its own.”

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