Jasiel Martin-Odoom

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy

Africa Investment Officer
Accion Venture Lab
Jasiel Martin-Odoom

Please describe why you chose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

I wanted to get a clearer understanding of how policy, entrepreneurship, and innovation intersect. While there are a lot of investment programs in the country that touch on one or two pieces of this, I decided to go to NYU Wagner because they had a specialization which looked at all three. This is something that was very important to me and, even now, I consider myself to be at that intersection between policy, business, and impact.

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

At Accion Venture Lab, I manage our African portfolio companies. I sit on a couple of boards and provide critical support to our clients that need more direct support. Here at Accion Venture Lab, we are a leading early-stage fintech investor in emerging markets with significant experience in embedded finance. We have invested in over 60 startups across emerging markets with 1/6th of our investments in Africa. As early-stage investors, we bring our expertise to bear in a few distinct ways: a) global learnings through our portfolio across various fintech models, b) our in-house consulting / operations team that works with portcos post-investment to collaboratively address top key needs that the founder is focused on, and c) connections with global debt & equity investors to support our portfolio companies in subsequent rounds. In my day-to-day job, I read a lot of pitch decks and see on average 200 FinTech pitch decks each year. In addition, I write a lot about African tech startups and investing on Twitter.

Please describe how your experiences at NYU Wagner prepared you for your career?

While courses like corporate finance and accounting policy were immensely helpful after graduation, my capstone project gave me real experience launching a startup. For my applied capstone project, some of my colleagues and I worked on a start-up idea. We worked on this for about a year, and, although we didn't take it further, it showed us how the startup process works. In particular, we identified a problem to solve and created a “product” to solve that problem. Going through that process has given me empathy about the process that has helped me work better with founders.