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SuperReturn Africa
3-5 December 2024
The Westin, Cape Town

Barbara Iyayi
CEO & Founding Partner at Unicorn Growth Capital


Barbara Iyayi is the Founder & Managing Partner of Unicorn Growth Capital, an early-stage FinTech & Blockchain VC fund that invests in the future of finance. The fund backs global founders leading category-defining companies at the pre-seed & seed stage and building next-generation financial infrastructure fit for fast-growing markets in Africa and emerging markets. Barbara is an experienced investor and entrepreneur with over 17 years’ experience, spanning venture capital, private equity, investment banking/M&A and technology.

Barbara has invested in, founded, and taken board roles in FinTech, blockchain and financial services companies globally. She is an Investment Committee member of Verda Ventures, a growth stage Web3 VC fund focused on Regenerative Finance. Previously, she served as the Chief Growth Officer of Element, Inc, an AI-powered digital identity company, operating in the US, Africa and Southeast Asia, and co-founded by Yann LeCun, Chief AI Scientist at Facebook and Turing Award Laureate. In addition, she was a Venture Partner at Lateral Capital, an Africa-based venture capital firm. Prior to that, she was in the inaugural team that launched Atlas Mara, a London Stock Exchange-listed financial services investment platform from start to over $3bn of assets, co-founded by Bob Diamond, ex-CEO of Barclays.

Barbara serves as Non-Executive Director of Churpy, a B2B accounts receivable and finance operations platform and recently served on the board of the Web Foundation, an international non-profit focused on digital equality, co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. In 2021, she was recognized by Innovate Finance as Women in FinTech Powerlist. In 2022, she was honored by the Council of Urban Professionals as a CUP Finance Catalyst.

Barbara worked at various financial institutions, including as Vice President, Investment Banking at JPMorgan, and UBS Investment Bank in New York. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Columbia University, and an MBA at Harvard Business School.

Agenda Sessions

  • Igniting innovation in Africa