VC4Africa exists to support entrepreneurs – whether it’s about improving the formulation of an idea, gaining some media exposure, making a meaningful connection, establishing a joint venture or securing an investment. Anything that helps the entrepreneur realize their potential.
Many times, just some visibility can make a big difference. For example, recently Hasan, the founder of Extended Bits, a software testing company in Somaliland, was profiled for the VC4Africa website and the story was picked up by BBC World only 8 hours later. Needless to say this was a major achievement for his team and he has generated many new contacts as a result. Since this interview, Hasan has gone on to sign a joint venture with RLabs. This partnership will see the international network of Social Incubators support Hasan’s team in Somaliland.
In a similar case, Gossy, the founder of StudentCircles, a Nigerian venture, was picked up by a number of media channels and later again by Forbes Magazine. Gossy explained in an e-mail to VC4Africa, ‘Thanks for the interview. I feared at some point that my servers would give up on me, but thankfully held strong to the traffic. VC4Africa gave my venture its first major coverage and this was the reference that allowed it to be featured on Afrinnovator and other media outlets. The interview was a point of reference for us to be able to get here. We will continue to owe this to VC4Africa. The impact is sure.’ The same goes for 26 year old Valery who saw his inbox fill with e-mails from possible partners after his interview about Agro-Hub, a mobile market information service for farmers in Cameroon. In this way, VC4Africa creates a spotlight for promising entrepreneurs and makes them visible to the world. In turn, we improve the discovery process for investors and serve as a powerful showcase for what is already being achieved across the continent.
Entrepreneurs on VC4Africa have also secured funding and established strategic partnerships need to grow and scale their business. VC4Africa saw Swiss investors support the launch of a new startup in Cameroon, Dutch investors support the launch of a new company in South Africa and an American company establish a joint venture needed to launch their SMS services into Kenya.
Rick, the founder of Market-fleas.com, an online craft market similar to the more renowned Etsy.com, closed his first investment round via VC4Africa.biz. He writes, “Hi Ben, We finally finished our investment round and once again thank you for the great platform. It really is the best out there as we found a lot of fraudulent sites on the web claiming to help angel investors and entrepreneurs connect.” He goes on to explain, “As web entrepreneurs, we found the going tough as a startup and tried a lot of avenues to get initial investment including venture capital firms in South Africa, other online investment platforms and more, with absolutely no luck. The problem was that 1.) we we’re a startup so a venture capital company with a minimum mandate of R50million was never going to look at us and 2.) every investment platform that we found (paid) would send (the guaranteed) connection via a random yahoo or gmail account which gave us hope, only to crush it again later. VC4Africa helped us connect (for free) to an investor we found within three days of being on the site, and created a platform where we could connect easily and without hidden agenda. Thank you VC4Africa, you are the only true investment platform.”
Other members don’t require funding and are finding the strategic partners they need to expand their business instead. Brian, the founder of Next2.Us writes, “Your website has been very helpful to me. I was able to connect to a company that wants to represent Next2.Us geosocial SMS network throughout Africa. We have executed a Framework Agreement and are finalizing a relationship with a SMS provider that will allow Next2.Us Africa to offer our geosocial network service in Kenya.” Since this e-mail Brian has gone on to test and launch his service in the Kenyan market.
These stories represent only a snapshot of the value being created through the VC4Africa network and we encourage you to share your stories as well. As a peer-to-peer platform we only see a fraction of the connections being made via the community, again the open approach is the strength in the concept, and despite this limited visibility we still we see conversations and concrete progress being made every day.
Want to get involved? Take a look through the hundreds of promising ventures and reach out to the entrepreneur for more information. Write a blog post about VC4Africa, register as a new member, post your own venture to the platform or host a VC4Africa meetup. As a community, why can’t we see hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs realize their potential and defy the missing middle?