The Sinapis Ascent Program equips highly motivated successful entrepreneurs to put their companies on a high growth trajectory and impact the world for the kingdom.

Introduction

For entrepreneurs, launching and successfully advancing their ventures past the early stage is no small feat. It takes vision, drive, and perseverance. There is real satisfaction in reaching that point of development.

But, the journey does not stop there. For those entrepreneurs aspiring to take their businesses to the next level, to achieve more than incremental growth, new obstacles arise.  Challenges include competitive advantage sustainability, existing market limitations and new market opportunities, sales effectiveness, operational scaling, talent development and leadership, and raising needed capital.

There are also fundamental, personal questions: Beyond commercial success, for what purpose am I building my business?  How does my faith fit with the desire to grow a thriving company?

Ascent is designed for entrepreneurs in this stage, equipping them to achieve breakout growth and investment readiness. We work with highly motivated founders to develop clarity and pathways for both accomplishing commercial success and driving broader impact, transforming lives and communities.

Ascent is an elite program, open to limited cohorts of engaged and highly engaged East African founders and their leadership teams who are ready to double their business in the next 3-4 years. Over the course of 9 months, you and your team will engage in a series of high-impact workshops, and individual time with successful advisors to advance your business model and team culture. You’ll also have time with other CEOs participating in the program in a peer-to-peer setting.

Ascent Core Points of Focus

  • Overall orientation of innovating and solving for constraints to growth, and gaining further traction
  • Evaluation and advancement of core value propositions, competitive advantages, and customer journeys
  • Identification of the changes needed in business operations to support exponential growth and building plans to address them
  • Exploration of how personal faith and values integrated with business build and growth can lead to broader impact in lives and communities - socially, economically, and spiritually
  • Examination of organizational culture and develop a plan that strengthens the leadership team and fosters a growth mindset throughout
  • Determination of the additional resources required to achieve the next stage of growth and understanding when needed
  • Gaining clarity of the gaps in the investment readiness plan and achieving progress to better enable access to capital

Program Elements

Ascent takes place over a period of nine months, with a small cohort of similar level growth stage businesses, and consists of four primary elements: multi-day leadership team workshops, founders round tables, investment readiness-related activities, and mentor engagement. Together, these are designed to provide structure, space, assistance, and active engagement with other entrepreneurs to chart growth pathways (both business and personal) and remove bottlenecks and obstacles.

Onboarding

Month 0
  • Ascent begins with the formation of the cohort and early engagement with each participating team.   Through the initial discussions and application reviews, we select those founders and businesses that both align with the objectives of Ascent and would fit well together in a cohort – where businesses are at a similar stage and size.  

    Upon acceptance, there are two engagement activities:  Investment readiness assessment (addressed below), and also DiSC personality assessments of the founder and leadership team.  These together with the early interviews and site visits provide ingoing understanding of aspirations, needs, and characteristics that will inform early workshops as well as participant-specific program goals.

Workshops

Months 1-7

A key component of Ascent is a series of workshops that work through core business dimensions - across strategy, sales, operations, overall management – with the purpose of defining where and how to maximize growth potential and solving for constraints to growth.

The first working session is held individually with each business’ leadership team.  The DiSC assessment framework and results provide the context and content for working on enhancements in how the leadership team can work more effectively together.  The work done here will set the direction for ongoing advancement of how the team can improve effectiveness in the coming months.

During the months that follow, we will conduct a series of six multi-day workshops bringing the cohort teams together, and with each workshop with clearly defined objectives.  Anchoring on a modified lean canvas structure and utilizing other frameworks, we will work with the teams as they consider the “art of the possible” for their businesses, define and architect pathways to growth, and solution for bottlenecks.  These workshops also create space for peer: peer support and learning, as each team has the opportunity to provide constructive feedback and collaborate in the exploration of new ideas.

In these workshops, we will also address the question of how personal faith and values can factor into the way businesses are built and led.  Through entrepreneurship, how can brokenness in lives and communities be addressed? How can a business be an agent for transformational change?  How could intentional consideration of these questions inform business design, decisioning, and stakeholder engagement?  Throughout are modules to explore this dimension. 

The following is the slate of workshops and their objectives:

Individual Team Assessment
  • Develop mutual understanding and appreciation for relative strengths among the team members
  • Begin exploring options for enhancing team effectiveness
WS 1: Kick-Off, Identity & Team Alignment
  • Sharpen and align on ideology for each enterprise team – values, purpose, vision, driving 10 year goal
  • Foster team community
WS 2A: Business Modeling – Distinctive Value Proposition & Creating Loyal Customers
  • Introduce business model as the means to identify and document the unique value proposition and supporting strategies which enable break-out growth
  • Test and validate/pivot the business’ value proposition to achieve high growth traction
  • Focus on high value customers & advance strategies for achieving conversion & improving customer lifetime value
WS 2B: Business Modeling – Delivering & Capturing Value
  • Deepen understanding of cost dynamics and considerations in a high growth setting
  • Review, challenge, revise pricing strategies
WS 3: Growth Planning
  • Define/refine customer targets to achieve growth aspirations
  • Develop actions and goals for scaling in next three years
  • Identify/prioritize the key elements enabling – and inhibiting – growth realization
WS 4: Processes and Performance Management
  • Identify and prioritize key process inefficiencies/constraints/bottlenecks affecting growth ability
  • Define and assess options for improving efficiencies
  • Equip leadership with the right dashboard for effective performance management and monitoring
WS 5: Financial and Cash Flow Management
  • Strengthen discipline of financial management
  • Understand levers for cash flow management and begin improvement plan
WS 6: Investment Readiness & Effective Capital Raise
  • Assess and prioritize capital needs – for what, when, type of funding
  • Understand investor expectations, and initiate development of compelling pitch deck
  • Gauge level of investment readiness

Founders Round Tables

Months 1-7

In addition to the workshops, a series of four round tables are held during the initial seven months. These are designed for founders only, recognizing the unique responsibilities and challenges they have. Elements addressed in these sessions include leadership, culture, governance, and personal wellbeing. 

These times together are also intended to be energizing, reinvigorating. The founder’s journey is often a difficult and lonely one. Our desire is to foster honest discussion and sharing, which leads to the building of relationships that can be sources of support that continue beyond the program. 

Below is the slate of founders’ round tables:

RT 1: Leadership Model Development
  • Explore founder leadership orientations (insights from DISC), desires, challenges 
  • Identify personal growth needs to empower team and lead exponential growth
  • Craft individual founder leadership models
RT 2: Business Model Disruption
  • Identify disruptive innovations which lead to exponential growth
  • Address constraints to innovative breakthroughs
RT 3: Corporate Governance
  • Understand value and core elements of effective governance and having an impactful board
  • Develop governance strengthening plan
RT 4: Investment Readiness
  • Identify and prioritize capital needs
  • Conduct Investment Readiness #2 (post workshops)
  • Explore core obstacles and “must-haves” in raising capital
  • Establish construct for assessing fit of investors with the founder/business

Mentoring

Months 1-9
  • During Ascent participating founders not only have access to the program leaders, they also have a mentor aligned with them. These individuals are themselves successful entrepreneurs who have been down the path of successfully growing businesses. They have lived through the trials of charting new avenues for growth, the dilemmas of making hard strategic choices, the ongoing tension of balancing personal, family, and business responsibilities, Given their experiences, they are well-positioned to be sounding boards, points of review, and counsel.
In Ascent, mentors come alongside the founder to provide:
  • Guidance – act as a sounding board, provide input and counsel
  • Accountability – help ensure founders and teams are progressing
  • Encouragement – support through times of difficulty, discouragement
Those who we select as mentors have several distinguishing characteristics:
  • Experienced in building businesses, and in leadership, management
  • Passionate about entrepreneurs
  • Desire to mentor others
  • Active faith
  • Sound judgment and good listening skills
Members of our mentor team include:
  • Curt Laird
    Founder of Re:Frontier, Xana Ventures, American University of Afghanistan Business Innovation Hub
  • Prisca Muyodi
    Founder of Educor
  • Joram Mwinamo
    Co-founder of SNDBX, WYLDE
  • Dave Payne
    Co-founder of Kentegra Biotechnology; Founder of OpenRise Advisory
  • Dr. Louis Somoni
    Founder of Haltons Pharmacy

Investment Readiness

Months 1, 7-9
  • Absence of capital is an increasing constraint on growth as a business advances. All too often, however, a firm’s readiness for investment does not advance together with its need for capital. Recognizing both dynamics, we work with founders to initially assess their investment readiness, identifying key gaps and limitations. This informs points of focus to address through Ascent. An assessment is also conducted towards the end of the program, to take stock of progress achieved and determine areas of continued work.

    Also built into the program is staged participation of select investors. Investors of all types commonly express the desire of being able to see potential investees before being asked for funds. There is an opportunity for them to not only better understand both the business and the founder, but also to provide perspectives about areas of potential concern. These investors are keen to see growing businesses advance and are active in this stage.  

    During the final months of Ascent work, we work with the business leaders in the development of investment raise material, including investment memorandum elements, associated financial modeling, and pitch deck.

Pitch Day

Month 9
  • Ascent concludes with a live pitch day where investors will be present, and for whom this will not be the first time of exposure to the cohort participants. As discussions continue with interested investors after this event, we will support the engaged founders. Our goal in Ascent is to assist the participant in their progress toward investment readiness, to afford each the opportunity to engage with and ultimately pitch to investors, and to see some early success in the raising of capital.

Unique Strengths of Ascent

Structured, team-based approach
We work directly with you and your leadership team on your growth challenges and opportunities, using lean scaling business modeling.
Distinctively experienced advisory team
Our team is comprised of business leaders who have grown businesses ranging from $5M-$200M, worked with leading companies on growth strategies, and advanced founder engagement with investors.
High quality mentors
Our mentors have track records of building businesses and have a passion for coming alongside founders to help them advance and grow personally as well as in business.
Accelerated progression in becoming investment ready
This involves identifying and addressing hurdles to raising capital, getting perspectives from investors along the way. Access to different platforms is also provided as appropriate.
Peer-to-peer learning and support
With no more than six teams per cohort, interaction is designed to sharpen ideas and provide constructive feedback loops.
Integrated, holistic goal
Our intent is to see founders and businesses thrive. This means not only strong growth but also striving with purpose, grounded in one’s faith and values, to be agents of transformational change, in individual lives and communities.
LEARN MORE

Ascent Team Leaders

Ray Barreth
Ray Barreth is a serial entrepreneur and has 35 years’ experience creating, directing, and leading SME ventures in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe. As a serial entrepreneur, Ray has launched six companies from product inception to scale.  His companies ranged in size from $40M U.S. to exceeding $100M U.S. in revenue. Ray coached entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and the Silicon Prairie, in the Kansas City Start-Up Village. Ray has been training, coaching, and growing African companies through his Venture Village (V2) GROWTH Lab which operates in Zambia and Nigeria.
Martin Kibisu
Martin is a seasoned business and organizational strategist with over 13 years of experience working with a major Kenyan international company, including leading the innovation hub. Martin is passionate about innovation and co-creation with the start-up/SME ecosystems as a practical and mutually beneficial way of solving existing and emerging business challenges. He has mentored and coached start-ups to build sustainable business models. He believes in pushing boundaries and that impossible is only a figment of our imagination.
Toby Kilgore
As Managing Director, Toby leads Sinapis’ post-training entrepreneur services, including accelerator and scaling programs, advisory and investment connection.  He is passionate to see entrepreneurs flourish in frontier markets, embracing both building businesses with excellence and intentionally living out their faith and values through their endeavors. Toby’s career prior to Sinapis involved working with executive teams of leading domestic and international institutions successfully addressing core strategy and performance issues. As partner at Deloitte Consulting and Kearney Consulting, he had responsibilities for building practices as well as serving tier 1 clients.  His areas of focus included growth strategy development and execution and customer experience enhancement.  Toby received an MBA from Harvard University, and a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt University.  
Purity Wainaina
Ms. Purity Wainaina is an entrepreneur trainer and coach with over 18 years’ experience in financial management, internal audit, risk management and control systems assessment within National Projects, Microfinance and Business Accelerators.In the last 4 years, she has successfully facilitated training and coaching for more than 200 entrepreneurs from various sectors who have subsequently gone on to achieve exponential growth. A recent achievement was designing a Business Continuity and Recovery Program to support business growth during COVID - 19. The businesses which have gone through this program have made changes in their business models that have enabled them to realize increased sales despite the depressed market, reduce costs and achieve profitability.

Fit and Application

  • CEOs/Founders + 1-4 executives
  • Growth-stage business, aspiration to double in size in 3-4 years
  • Initially proven business model
  • Expanding market potential
  • Annual revenues of $300,000+ or KES 30M+
  • More than five employees
  • Interested in exploring how to live out faith & values through business
$41.5M
IN INVESTMENT CAPITAL
RAISE BY SINAPIS ALUMNI
APPLY NOW