Last Friday, members and supporters of VC4Africa came together for a VC4Africa meetup in Addis, Ethiopia, hosted at local incubator IceAddis. The next VC4Africa meetup will be next week on Thursday May 9th in Lagos, Nigeria on the closing evening of Mobile Web West Africa. We had a chance to catch up with Addis meetup organizer Yoseph Berhane to find out more about last week’s VC4Africa meetup in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “We should organize the meetup on a permanent basis!”
Please introduce yourself and how you got involved in VC4Africa?
“My name is Yoseph Berhane, I got involved in VC4Africa around mid August 2012, when my venture ‘Dungo Energy Solutions‘ got published on VC4Africa. I am currently completing my profile to fundraise. Last month I wrote an email message to VC4Africa that I was interested in organizing a new VC4Africa meetup in Addis Ababa.”
Can you tell us something about the local startup scene in Addis?
“The entrepreneurs’ scene is somewhat interesting to closely look at. Ethiopia’s Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency (FeMSEDA) has announced to be training 200.000 people until 2015. Many of them will need start-up capital once they graduate from the course. Many others already have a very good business idea that can bring tremendous benefits to millions waiting to get financed.
The investors’ scene is also interesting to closely look at. There are many people who have the money but don’t know what to do with it. These people are currently reluctant to invest in a business that is based on new ideas by entrepreneurs, even if they know they can make huge profits from investing in it.”
Why did you step forward to organize this meetup?
“Ever since I started my solar lantern distribution social enterprise in November 2011, I have seen many people in Ethiopia with brilliant business ideas who are struggling to access startup capital. It is important to me that these people win their struggle, but currently the odds are stacked against them. I organized the meetup to help entrepreneurs in accessing the much needed start-up capital.
How did the event go? Around how many people attended and what were their backgrounds?
“The event was great! Each participant was given a chance to introduce himself or herself. Most of the participants were entrepreneurs. Around 16 people attended. Their background was diverse, including electrical engineers, doctors, NGO project managers, investors, experts from a government agency that is working on business incubation, an entrepreneur trainer, a researcher, other entrepreneurs and sales and marketing officers.”
Can you tell us about the most interesting person you met and why?
“The most interesting person I met was Vince Diop from BellCash. He has a good business idea, which can transform the mobile banking business in Ethiopia. He also has a very good knowledge of venture funding and was facilitating the meet up smoothly, asking good questions and entertaining the meetup participants with jokes. Bethel Yemane from Renew Strategies has also impressed me from the women participants.”
What are your conclusions, final thoughts and message to the VC4Africa community?
“I would like to thank Florian and Alem at iceaddis, the VC4Africa team and Yonatan Fiseha for all their help! The main concern of the participants was how to continue the meetup in the future. An investor who was present in the last meetup in Addis, also held at iceaddis, said that we should organize the meetup on a permanent basis! The majority of the participants have agreed with his idea and I have taken the assignment to communicate future program announcement to the Ethiopia group on VC4Africa. The next meetup will be in a local bar.”
Thanks Yoseph! It’s great to see the local VC4Africa community come together like this! The next VC4Africa meetup will be next week on Thursday May 9th in Lagos, Nigeria on the closing evening of Mobile Web West Africa.