It’s always a great thing when young people are doing well especially as entrepreneurs. It is inspiring and a win for Kenya where the young people are viewed as trouble makers or not ready for serious responsibilities especially where leadership and business are concerned. However, the rules still apply and we must not see the flash and forget the substance when it comes to vetting business success. Heshan De Silva is clearly a remarkable young man. However, a lot of what is being reported isn’t backed by solid facts and this is a little suspicious.
1. How he started out in business
Heshan apparently started the de Silva Group with $200.
According to his bio:
Choosing projects carefully, he grew the de Silva Group into one of the regionâ€™s most enterprising entities, with holdings in commodities, technology, renewable energy, insurance and agri-business.
There is no mention of how he was able to grow his business or the specific companies his company has holdings in. That is strange considering a company with successful holdings would want to mention them.
2. How he started the Venture Capital business and its value
This part of the Heshan story is very unclear. In interview with the Business Daily he claimed that his venture fund business was funded by two New York hedge funds to the tune of $2 billion dollars.
Initially the company which is founded by two New York hedge funds each at a cost of $1 billion
He later refuted this in an angry comment on kachwanya.com where Kachwanya disputed the figures shared in the Business Daily article.
The Business Daily published a CORRECTION to the article you are so fond of quoting. I said we are capped at $20million but have provisions to rise to $1billion should we entertain the thought of an IPO within the next 10 years. 2 partners – $500m in commitments should that arise
There is no evidence of the correction Business Daily allegedly printed.
3. The businesses his venture fund has invested in
Heshan de Silva, 25, is the CEO of VenCap, a venture capital fund invested in 17,000 businesses.
He claims that his fund has invested in 17,000 businesses. He even goes ahead in some interviews to claim that some of them are unsuccessful but he has not named a single business he has invested in. He is very vague in all of his interviews.
4. Who his partners are
He has mentioned his partners in New York vaguely. They could be the two hedge funds he talked about in the Business Daily article but I am not sure.
On the VenCap website there is no mention of the partners but an advisor, a Ted Martin, is listed.
5. He claims in his bio that he was selected by the United States Congress as one of Kenyaâ€™s Brightest Young Leaders. I couldn’t find any evidence of this anywhere.
6. He claims he serves on the boards of well-respected Kenyan companies. He however doesn’t mention any by name.