The Africa SMME Tech Report
The BIG5D Podcast
The BigFive Summit Speaker Series Episode 5: Thaheer Mullins, GP, Savant Venture Fund

The BigFive Summit Speaker Series Episode 5: Thaheer Mullins, GP, Savant Venture Fund

The BigFive Summit Speaker Series continues on the BIG5D Podcast with a conversation on how Fourth Industrial Revolution startups are driving impact with Savant Venture Fund GP Thaheer Mullins

This podcast series is sponsored by The 2024 BigFive Summit

Welcome to Episode 5 of the 2024 BigFive Summit Speaker Series on the BIG5D Podcast. This is a series of podcasts featuring conversations about Africa’s tech scene, empowering SMEs with technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, startup life, and much more featuring the incredible thought leaders who will speak at the 2024 BigFive Summit, 19-20 March in Cape Town.

In Episode 4, we chat with Thaheer Mullins, the General Partner of Savant Venture Fund. Savant is a South African deep-tech-focused venture firm and startup incubator.

As with most of the Speaker Series episodes thus far, our conversation with Thaheer has a very specific focus. At the Summit, Thaheer will lead a panel on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). So we decided to dedicate most of the interview to 4IR. What is it? And why does it hold so much promise for Africa?

We will skip the history lesson defining the previous three industrial revolutions, though this is covered in the podcast. For this conversation, 4IR is largely about connected technologies and their power to address critical challenges in Africa, while creating the potential for immense value for founders and investors like Thaheer.

In this very accessible conversation about a pretty deep tech topic, Thaheer holds up two examples of African startups that typify how 4IR is solving practical problems in Africa. The first is Sensor Networks, which uses connected technologies to monitor geezers (hot water cylinders) in homes to stay on top of maintenance and improve energy efficiency.

The second example Thaheer cites, AI Diagnostics, promises to revolutionize healthcare in rural areas by allowing physicians to provide remote diagnostics. This is a potential game changer for rural health care since it allows, for example, residents living far from the nearest hospital to have their serious health conditions monitored. This has obvious life-saving potential.

This example drives home Thaheer’s core case for 4IR and why he thinks it is a unique opportunity for Africa.

“Now you have life-saving technology as a result of 4IR that addresses the critical infrastructure and skills gap on the continent,” Thaheer says in the interview.

Interview Excerpts

The following are a few edited excerpts from our conversation with Thaheer. Please listen to the podcast to experience the full interview.

On 4IR’s ability to drive impact

There is a lot of need on this continent…and it is not being addressed. And 4IR literally gives us the ability to do so.

On 4IR’s ability to elevate local manufacturing

One of the things 4IR is addressing is the ability to build local manufacturing capacity.

On the outlook for African venture investing this year

If you're a founder raising now and you research UVC, well, you might actually be able to raise quite well. But it really does depend on who you're speaking to. And what you're offering and how it aligns with what they're doing. Right. So if you track your VCs, and you see who started raising, or who announced the funds, two to three years ago, and how many deals they've announced, then you have a pretty good idea of who you should go to.

You can also enjoy this podcast on Apple and Spotify.

Listen on Apple

Listen on Spotify

Sponsored Message

This podcast series is sponsored by The 2024 BigFive Summit

African Tech Leaders to Share BigFive Summit Stage

Join our growing lineup of powerhouse speakers at the 2024 BigFive Summit, Africa’s leading small business technology event (19-20 March 2024 in Cape Town). Our lineup now includes Lunga Siyo, Lee Naik, Aisha Pandor, Khomotso Molabe, Lindelani Ramukumbu, Ashmita Singh, Denvor Daniels, Fiona Tabraham, Miranda Perumal, Simon Ellis, Zachariah George, Zach Marks, Kimberley Taylor, Meghan McCormick, Tanja De Korte, John Kitenge, and many others.

Purchase your Early Bird tickets today for only R2000. This grants the ticketholder two days of top-level content and networking in Africa’s top destination city with an amazing group of tech builders, investors, and corporate leaders. Apply the promotional code BIGFIVE25 at checkout to save an additional 25%.

Purchase Summit tickets in ZAR here:

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Purchase Summit tickets in USD here:

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The 2024 BigFive Summit Speaker Series

Check out these Speaker Series episodes featuring discussions with some of the thought leaders taking the stage at the upcoming BigFive Summit in Cape Town.

Are you interested in participating in the BIG5D Podcast? Write to us at

The Africa SMME Tech Report
The BIG5D Podcast
In-depth conversations with the innovators and entrepreneurs building the tech ecosystems for small and local businesses in Africa & The Middle East.