Karen Serem Waithaka
Chief Investment Officer

Karen is the Chief Investment Officer at the Catalyst Fund, spearheading the end-to-end investment process, including sourcing, due diligence, and closing deals. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, she splits her time between South Africa and Kenya, expanding Catalyst’s reach in these vibrant markets. With previous experience as an Investment Director at Global Partnerships Social Venture Fund, Karen managed the entire investment process, and invested in 7 Seed to Series A high-impact companies improving the livelihoods of underserved communities in East Africa. She brings comprehensive expertise in governance, strategy, and portfolio management, having served as a board observer for 9 investments under her purview.

In addition to her venture capital background, Karen has valuable experience in private equity, having worked at TBL Mirror Fund and Safaricom Spark Fund I. At TBL, she invested in 9 growth and later-stage companies in FMCG, ICT, and Healthcare sectors. At Safaricom, she managed investment opportunities and facilitated strategic collaborations for startups leveraging the telecom giant’s networks and expertise. Karen’s diverse experience also includes setting up her own advisory firm, where she guided startups through the fundraising journey, offering financial planning, strategy, recruitment, and mentorship support. With over 15 years of experience across Actuarial services, Corporate Finance, Private Equity, and Venture Capital in Africa, Karen is a highly skilled and well-rounded investor. Her leadership will be essential to the fund’s success.

Join Catalyst Fund

We are actively looking for early-stage startups that improve the resilience of underserved and climate-vulnerable communities in emerging markets.