Cameroon’s tech hub ActivSpaces connects with European Investors

Cameroon’s serial entrepreneur Churchill Nanje Mambe at Barcamp Cameroon

Recent research done at VC4Africa showed that access to finance remains one of the key challenges entrepreneurs face when building their startups. The community at ActivSpaces,  Cameroon’s leading technology incubator,  is eager to close this gap.

Since the CPS Congress in July, ActivSpaces has been working to engage international networks of experts and investors who are in a position to support projects in the local tech community. Today we had the chance to connect with Al Banda, the community manager at ActivSpaces, to talk about the launch of their latest series Activ Insights and upcoming chat with Dariu Trueb of Ringier AG.

First off, what is ActivSpaces?

“The African Center for Technology, Innovation & Ventures, ActivSpaces triples as an open collaboration lab, innovation hub and business incubator for African tech entrepreneurs. In a nutshell, it’s a space where technological ideas impacting the future of Africa are nurtured.”

What is Activ Insights?

“Activ Insights is a new monthly networking session facilitated by ActivSpaces. This is a platform for budding techpreneurs to share and learn from one another and influential guest speakers in business and tech-related affairs.”

Can you  tell us about the upcoming event?

“On Tuesday 25th October from 6:00pm – 7:00pm we’ll be chatting with Dariu Trueb, a representative of Ringier AG, one of Europe’s largest media corporations.  Founded in 1833, Ringier is the leading media house in Switzerland with headquarters in Zurich. It has strongholds in print, broadcast, radio, online and mobile media with annual income of approximately 1.5 billion Swiss francs.

Ringier’s vision for Africa in 2012 is two-fold: to invest in leading multimedia platforms and to work with young leaders and provide them with the technology, know-how and money needed to develop some of their platforms locally. In 2012, Ringier is looking to expand into Africa and we’ve had extensive talks on business development and media investments in Cameroon. ActivSpaces thought it would be a great idea to facilitate a discussion between local actors in the tech scene and European investors like Ringier.”

Why is this so unique / what is the significance?

“This is one of the first times that several players in the local tech community will have the chance to engage in open dialogue with a top-level investor like Ringier and hear first-hand what their investment plans are for Cameroon. It will be a great opportunity for the techies to not only understand the inner workings of investing, but also, to learn how to position themselves for the near future. From a strategic perspective the potential is enormous.”

What do you hope is the outcome of this session?

“As the first Activ Insights session, we hope it will be truly insightful to the local tech community as well as to Ringier. We also hope the community will realize the need for more collaboration and hopefully crystallize some partnerships in the wake of this event. Finally, we hope that the information shared will inspire new initiatives that will bring in game-changing investments.”

Do you have a final message for the VC4Africa community and other international investors out there?

“For the VC4Africa community: Startups should build their teams by working together to create real impact and maximize potential. We’re in a phase of underdevelopment where we can’t afford to look at every other player in our field as a competitor. Maybe we need to see them as a potential partner instead.

For international investors: connecting to the African market becomes simple with a “third-culture kid” to help you bridge the gap. Work with tech incubators to help you gain insight into the market. You can find a directory of them at Afrilabs. There’s a lot of talent and an unsaturated marketplace ripe for the picking.”

Great Al. We look forward to following the discussions and to seeing more events like this come online. This is another important step for the ActivSpaces community and another great insight into the buzzing Cameroonian tech scene. And for anyone who wants to get involved, or connect with ActivSpaces in a similar way, feel free to contact Al and the team.