Improving access to risk capital globally,

with a social ethos,

through micro private equity and micro-mezzanine finance. 



VAALBARA was an Archean supercontinent that consisted of the  Kaapvaal craton, today located in the eastern part of Southern Africa, and the Pilbara craton, today found in the north-western part of Western Australia. VAALBARA is the original, oldest supercontinent on Earth – it existed 3.6-billion years ago.

To us, Vaalbara signifies the salient continuities that unite communities and environments across space and time and acts as inspiration for the type of big picture thinking required to solve major challenges.



VAALBARA builds on almost four decades of continuous institution building and socially motivated investment around financial inclusion. We are a development finance organisation, with a base in the Netherlands and in South Africa, committed to improving access to risk capital around the world. We support heterodox entrepreneurs building lasting organisations dedicated to scalable solutions. Our larger goal is to support projects that improve livelihoods, foster innovation ecosystems and promote sustainable development. We invest long-term capital into high value-adding teams and start-ups – in particular women founded, owned and managed enterprises. Our entrepreneurial partners employ over 75-people directly, and 3000 permanently employed indirectly who, in turn, support around 8000 livelihoods.

We focus on high-value added activities that multiply opportunity and drive social transformation or adaptation to climate-breakdown.



We partner select teams through an at risk strategic navigation model for a minimum period of four to six months, wherein we collaborate to (a) drive funding readiness, (b) improve fundability and (c) develop a strongly aligned relationship and, finally, (d) test mutual partnership thesis for potential further risk capital investment. Building on the initial take on period, we then look to invest directly from our own balance sheet into selected projects and teams lead by highly experienced entrepreneurs and operators. Where capital requirements exceed $1-million, we leverage our strong fundraising and operational track-record and experience to lead larger fundraising rounds for our partners. We have no time, size or exit constraints, enabling us to partner long-term and think about value.


Laying operational foundations for scale

Advising on how to best position for growth and scale and as SGBs look at international expansion, including technical support to help de-risk growth and help get SGB’s ready for future investment.

Sales approach to local and international markets

Reviewing and analysing the most efficient sales and marketing approach, especially Europe and the continental Americas.

Organisational structure

Evaluating where gaps are in terms of management, legal and governance capabilities, and ensuring proactive addressing of these challenges.

Technology strategy

Support in selecting or developing the right technologies to underpin sustainable growth and global scaling, including development of technology policy frameworks to underpin organisational culture.

Regenerative models

Support in thinking through and acting on strategies to underpin stakeholder-centric sustainability into the future, based on holistic and regenerative approaches.

Value sharing

Assisting with the development of incentive pools or creative schemes to include stakeholders, within and external to the organisation, in value creation and upside – building strong foundations for sustainable success.

Go-to-market strategy

Partnership strategies, determining whether it makes more sense to go direct to the market with or without partners initially, or even to selectively acquire partners in certain instances.

Capital raising / investor relations

Connecting to key investors, managing investor conversations and expectations, and also being a sounding board to the entrepreneur in deciding on capital structure, the potential to take on some debt in the business, the creation of an employee options plan to share value with talent in the business at all levels (profit share models etc.).

Management Buy-outs or Buy-ins (Founder exits)

Supporting highly entrepreneurial management teams in bids to buy outright ownership of companies and to gain control over their destinies.

Consolidation potential

Assisting with potential for SGBs to play the role of consolidator in their sectors across international markets. Market-research and potential acquisition targets where SGBs could quickly achieve scale in a new region / something unique like IP or a strong team of design engineers.


Ecosystem development

We are passionately committed to the sustainable development of Start-ups and Small and Growing Businesses, to the creation of growth opportunities for entrepreneurs and teams alike. We care about the development of local and global innovation eco-systems – we see ourselves as positive-sum connectors and collaborators.

Commitment to people

We partner very strong, highly committed and dynamic teams and mission driven organisations who are making, or intend to make, a demonstrably positive impact in the world. We ultimately invest in the creative people that drive businesses, not just in businesses.

Exclusion criterion

We abide by the International Finance Corporation’s Exclusion List and aim to partner international Development Finance Institutions who map to The OECD DAC Blended Finance Principles for Unlocking Commercial Finance for the United Nations’ SDGs.

Power of small teams

We believe in the power of small entrepreneurial teams – with shared values and long-view thinking – to make a material difference in the world. We have first hand experience in lean operating models, and in the creative uses of technology to create hyper effective scalable structures.

Our Team

We are a small, highly experienced team of operators and entrepreneurs, with a strong advisor network.

Rally Schachat (Principal)

Rally is an international strategist, entrepreneur, and investor. He has ventured into the worlds of Hospitality, Culture, Food Security, Finance, Technology, Healthcare, and Real Estate. Living, studying, and working in the UK, France, and South Africa, having traveled extensively, and participated in numerous cross-border and cross-cultural initiatives; Rally has built himself as a global citizen, with an international network, applying a universal approach to business and relationships. Rally’s core competency lies in unraveling complex puzzles, building deal structures, financial and risk analysis, strategic positioning, economic and political game theory, business/social network development, and design-oriented thinking.

Alma mater :University of Edinburgh (MA Hons) Politics and Economics; CFA Institute; Le Cordon Bleu (Paris)

Ross Esson (Principal)

Ross has more than 10 years’ experience in the design, implementation and change management of large-scale infrastructure projects ($50 – $100MM) across Southern and Eastern Africa focusing on public transport, airlines, construction and IT. Alma mater: University of Cape Town.

Ross Boyd (Advisor)

Ross is an experienced business leader with broad Commercial and Operational experience developed internationally. Thanks to his 16+ years with General Electric he has had the opportunity to turnaround struggling business units, build strong teams, bolster failing support functions and localize activities in Africa and China. Prior to his departure from GE, Ross was the Supply Chain Executive for GE Power in Africa tasked with restructuring and developing Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as a stand-alone sourcing region within the US$1.2-billion Regional Power business. Ross holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Witwatersrand, an Advanced Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a MBA from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Cobus de Ridder (Principal)

Cobus is an entrepreneur and seasoned operator; he has operationally led several start-ups from inception to accel past the US$1MM revenue marker inside 24-month time frames. Alma mater: Stellenbosch University. 

Frederik de Ridder (Principal)

Frederik is a civil engineer and economist by trade, with international start-up and finance experience across Sub-Saharan Africa, the UK, Western Europe and North America; he serves on the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and the Advisory Board of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Alma mater: University of Cambridge (Cambridge-MIT Institute); University of Cape Town. 

Personal: extensive cultural immersion in 35+ countries; hiking, scuba, philosophy.




Making Blended Finance Work for the Sustainable Development Goals

The global community has spoken loud and clear: more resources must be mobilised to end extreme poverty and mitigate the effects of climate change. Blended finance - an approach to mix different forms of capital in support of development - is emerging as an important solution to help raise resources for the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries. 

read more

Impact Investing: What's the Point? is clearly time for the “industry” to reflect on what it has set out to achieve over the past decade or more. There is no better place to start than Herb Sturz’ question to me: “What’s the point?” which in this case translates into the question: what is impact investing for?. 

read more

Impact Investing Market Mythologies

...In a recent article Diane Isenberg, founder and owner of Family Office Ceniarth investments, describes her intention to convert all Ceniarth’s investments to impact first investments. In doing so she is living up to a philosophy she and co-author Neil Neichin expressed in an article a year prior those people who promise comfortable market-rate returns while solving global poverty are the equivalent of diet gurus promising that one can lose weight while eating limitless amounts of chocolate cake. 

read more

Impact Investing in the 21st Century

The universe of international development has become very seized with “problem statements” and “theories of change”. In many institutions every project proposal and strategy document is required to spell these out, which is odd if you think about it: you can’t have a new theory for every course of action. 

read more


+27 (0) 11 4863493


South Africa:

99 Kilkenny Road, Parkview, Johannesburg, 2193


Rembrandt kantoor, 2nd floor, Joop Geesinkweg 701, 1114 AB Amsterdam

Work Hours

24/7 - no clocks!