VC4Africa members recently came together for the second London meet up. We had a chance to catch up with Lydia Ofori, the organizer of the event, and get her impressions. We would also like to thank Jonathan Marks for the images and video work.
Hi Lydia, how did the Meetup go?
Very well. I was encouraged by the turn out. We are also very grateful to the Hoxton Apprentice for allowing us to host the meetup on their premises.
This was the second VC4Africa Meetup in London, why did you decide it was time to step forward and organize a follow up event?
You know, the story of Africa is a today and now story. There are a lot of things happening and we are seeing so many innovations come online. The moment is right to give Africa the well needed visibility. And there is no other place to raise the profile of such talent other than in London. London is the financial centre of the world and has such a diverse mix of talent. Underneath all the buzz, a lot of investors would like to experience the proximity of the growth of opportunities that are currently happening in Sub Sahara Africa. The meetup encourages conversations of this sort, and allows the online engagement to take place in real life, which is a good thing. As someone who believe in the Africa story, and has been speaking around the subject for a while, it was the right time for me to get involved and support the vision of VC4Africa by hosting the meetup.
How many people showed up and can you give us a breakdown of how attended?
We had a great turn up of entrepreneurs and a good selection of people from the investment world. Around 50 people. The sectors represented ranged from high tech solutions to green energy.
Who was the most interesting person you met and why?
Everyone that I managed to speak to was interesting. I very much liked Charles Akpom’s Afroterminal. Charles and his team have built a platform which connects Africans at home and abroad. I did find his story to be interesting and inspiring.
What did you like about the meet up structure and what do you feel could be improved?
The whole concept about meetups is to allow new and existing conversations to take place in a friendly environment, and in a free flow format. I say new conversations because for some (and most) their first conversation about a project does take place at a meetup. By existing conversations, I refer to people who have already established a connection on the VC4Africa.biz platform and then have a chance to meet in person. For such parties, the meetup is an extended platform which supplements and enhances existing online relationships.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get hooked on Africa?
The story of Africa is an intriguing one!! Coming from a Ghanaian heritage, I have always followed developments on Africa on many different levels. The investment landscape being one of those levels. In my spare time I compile news articles on Africa on mypitchbook as my contribution to the visibility agenda. I also support VC4Africa on a pro bono basis, acting as the officer for London. I provide offline support and organize things like this meetup.
What is the next milestone you seek to achieve?
We are already planning our next gathering. A representative from the World Trade Centers Association attended the meet up and has offered to host the next event at the stock exchange. So naturally, we are excited about that connection.
What do you think of VC4Africa and how can members support you further?
VC4Africa provides a long awaited solution for both Africa centric entrepreneurs and investors alike. It is filling a well needed gap in the space. Having a platform of this depth and magnitude is encouraging. Entrepreneurs are able to actively engage with investors, and with one another, from different parts of the world. In addition to showcasing their talent, with the hope of gathering investment interest from the venture capital investment community, entrepreneurs are also able to benefit from online mentoring and connections with seasoned global industry experts.
A final message for the community?
Keep going…. the journey of a thousand miles begin with small steps. Always maintain a high conviction of your idea and get involved!!