The Application: Taking the 1% chance

'You have to know failure to then understand success. I do think that everybody has to fail at some point.'

Thabiso Foto is the Chief Financial Officer of Founders Factory Africa, which invests in early stage entrepreneurs - from somebody with an idea who hasn't actually built out the business itself to businesses that are at pre-series A stage of a startup.

She tells Kathy how she is trying to help them go from that idea to actually building out a backable venture or an investable opportunity. The entrepreneurs face considerable challenges: 

  • Lack of experience – they are working with entrepreneurs who have never run a business before.
  • Access to finance – access to funding for entrepreneurs is very limited, particularly in Africa.
  • Access to market - they are working to get the startups speed to market, so that they can actually build out and start growing their revenue quickly enough to then be able to access the next level of investment.

During their conversation Thabiso talks to Kathy about growing up in a big family in a very small town called Kwe Kwe in the midlands of Zimbabwe. Her parents had a strong belief in education and she shares how on their values of hard work and discipline anchored them all. Thabiso is the sixth of seven children and she also credits her success to the role her siblings played in her life. One of her four brothers, pictured here, was in Oxford to celebrate her end of course ceremony.   


The Application is a podcast that tells us about our alumni – their background, what was the driver that caused them to apply for the Oxford Executive MBA (EMBA), what the turning points in their lives are, what their identity is and the tension that often embodies so much of our professional lives.

This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the EMBA programme and to mark this milestone, Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean, has stepped back behind the microphone with a number of our alumni to reflect on their journeys before, during and after their Executive MBA. 


The Oxford Executive MBA is a transformational programme, that will challenge you to explore the answers to complex business issues. Learn how to innovate, how to lead responsibly and how to navigate change to transform your own business practice.