Last Thursday VC4Africa members came together in 26 cities in 20 countries to connect with fellow entrepreneurs, investors and supporters as a part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013. The event attracted 2000 signups and was a big success – a big thank you to all hosts who volunteered to organize the meetups in their cities! See some impressions below. Did you join too or watched it happen online? Please add what inspired you most in the comments below!
VC4Africa believes that entrepreneurship development in Africa can be accelerated when we are able to connect a global network of knowledge and capital. Last Thursday, November 21, VC4Africa members and supporters came together in Accra, Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Buea, Cairo, Chicago, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali, Monrovia, Lagos, Lille, London, Los Angeles, Lusaka, Nairobi, New York, Silicon Valley, Tunis, Washington D.C. and Windhoek.
The first timezone wave of meetups was in Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi:
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Iceaddis meetup hosts Oliver Petzoldt & Markos Lemma shared: “iceaddis is really proud to be part of such an awesome global event … We all do this with a lot of passion and love – so let’s celebrate tonight!” In Addis a lot of business people showed up, a perfect match for the developer community. The entrepreneurs present for example had a chance to talk to EthioTelecom directly: “great to have engineers from the telecom who want to listen to startups… a great dialogue with entrepreneurs who are depending on connectivity.”
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Meetup host Nina Werner of Mara Tanzania shared: “The meetup Dar es Salaam was a great success! Over 50 people showed up and we got them to mingle, interact, and share stories.” Tanzanian DEMO Africa entrepreneur Nisha Ligon added: “Amazing venue, and we didn’t stay in a conference layout for more than 2 minutes – people were networking across the beach!”
Meetup host Bertil van Vugt welcomed more than 75 people in the Mercury Lounge in Nairobi. “It was nice to see more investors attending – as during other meetups the entrepreneurs were in the majority.” Bertil also met many interesting entrepreneurs, and also a few guys who walked from far to attend the meetup: “They heard about the meetup, but never visited Mercury Lounge as they are living in one of the slums of Nairobi. But to see their enthusiasm and determination to make a change for their community was very inspiring.”
“As I’m leaving Nairobi soon for Amsterdam, Joel Macharia and Jasper Grosskurth are taking over from me as VC4Africa representatives in Nairobi. I hope they will continue to organize these meetups as there is clearly a demand for informal networking events for the startup community in Nairobi!”
Attendees in Nairobi were very enthusiastic. Job Larry shares: “got to interact with lots of entrepreneurs and came off better today..”. Fred Ananga adds: “Eye opening VC4Africa Meet up at Mercury Lounge.. Always good to share ideas…”. And Ancent Munuve speaks of a “great interactive session … superb networking … amazing setup”.
In the next time zone meetups started in Cairo, Alexandria, Kampala, Kigali, Lusaka, Windhoek & Johannesburg….
About 30 people showed up in Kampala. Meetup host Reinier Battenberg says it was a “healthy mix”: “Lots of IT, some energy, some finance, some hardware … There were some real nice synergies and people made follow up appointments. Also, 3 fund managers walked in. We had to create a queue for people who wanted to pitch with them spontaneously.”
Meetup host Johanna Cloete says the Windhoek meetup was “a lovely evening with great communication”. “We met at Nice Restaurant and had lots of fun while unraveling the mystery of VC”.
“The greater number present were engineers of some kind or other but what was most surprising was that most were civil engineers. None were related and signed up without inviting each other.” One of the discussion points was on negative and positive aspects of venture capital. “Many lively discussions erupted… Interest has definitely being aroused amongst the attendees.”
Johannesburg, South Africa
At the Johannesburg meetup the DEMO Africa entrepreneurs of the company SSTREAMM organized a livestream connection where attendees of the meetup were interviewed! We’ll add a link when the edited version of the livestream recordings are put online.
In the next time zone meetups started in Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Buea, Lille, Lagos & Tunis…
The Amsterdam meetup attracted many diaspora entrepreneurs, investors, and others. VC4Africa’s Saskia Reus-Makkink, who prepares entrepreneurs for fundraising, shared she liked the mix of entrepreneurs, investors and partners. “We spoke to investors about upcoming funds and what they can offer entrepreneurs and partners. New partnerships were initiated, and many entrepreneurs I spoke to were very happy with on the spot feedback to help fine-tune their business models”.
Beate Wedekind of TheNewAfrica hosted the Berlin meetup. “It was a truly amazing evening. Everybody talked to everybody and the last guests left at midnight. New alliances have been built, and the exchange of opinion and knowhow was very open minded and trustful.”
“It was very inspiring to see how easily people who meet each other for the first time connected, and I know that some already continued their talks today.”
“Around 40 people attended, half/half women and men. Each and everyone with a background in either already being active on the African continent or planning to be. From experienced entrepreneurs to startups, from writers to publishers, from fashion designer to industrialist, from tech innovators to scientists, from solar experts to university teachers, from banker to VC and business angels.”
“We already set up a follow up meeting, a casual cocktail to celebrate the New Year.”
The Brussels meetup was hosted by the Afropean Initiative Foundation, that aims to promote the visibility of Afroprean professionals at the European level. For Micheline Dembo Ayaki, its president, organizing the VC4Africa meetup was a way to reach out to and create synergies between those Afropean professionals.
“The Brussels VC4Africa GEW meetup was ‘formidable’! True to Brussels’ cosmopolitan tradition, conversations were going on in various languages including of course English and French. Around 50 Afropean professionals responded to the invitation: entrepreneurs, investors, European Commission and Embassy representatives, accountants, lawyers, journalists. With such a diversity of backgrounds, there were many exciting stories to tell, awesome experiences to share – and everyone left with something to take away. From a construction company wishing to expand on the African market to build energy efficient houses, to a business angel wishing to invest in Africa, the loose structure of the meetup – no agenda, no speeches – clearly worked for us! We are happy that people get in touch after the meet-up which is the start of a new African adventure!”
The Brussels meetup was not only a success for the attendees and organizers VC4Africa and the Afropean Initiative Foundation – it also marked a milestone for the Brussels-based Afropean community and raised expectations for the next one(s) possibly on a monthly basis. To be continued!
Meetup host Olisa Udezue share the Lagos meetup went very well, with over 40 attendees. “Most where entrepreneurs, a few marketers and only one VC. Just before the organic buzz got out of hand, we took turns introducing each other. With all the hype in Nigeria around women entrepreneurs, its good to mention that we recorded only two remarkable ladies at the event!”
“I think social entrepreneurs should be given special attention because of the impact their services has on society at large. Rex Mafiana, the successful MD/CEO of FlexIP Group a start-up gave a short inspirational pitch on start-up best practices and pit falls to avoid. He also volunteered to offer his business plan template to everyone who is interested or still working their business plans.”
“It also became clear that everyone needed more PR and most didn’t know how to achieve this at a reasonable cost.” “And perhaps one of the solutions to the lack of patient capital is to bootstrap a more Nigeria tuned VC4Africa initiative, maybe a “VC4Nigeria” complimenting similar initiatives like YouWin, cchub and Wennovation Hub. Or with more focus on the VC side where other successful VCs from VC4Africa investments play a big brother role, share risks and rewards alike?”
Meetup host Martin Diatta shares: “We came together with a quality group of 17 people. Everyone was happy at the end!”
The Tunis meetup was hosted by Microsoft and Cogite. “We had a fantastic event with over 100 people. Lots of young talent and investors. We are thrilled with the turnout and we hope to make this a periodic event!”
In the next time zone meetups started in London, Accra, Monrovia & Dakar.
The meetup at iSpace Ghana in Accra was a big success too!
Meetup organizer Sunny Nyemah: “We had about twenty people show-up for the meet-up. It was exciting, and connections were made. We appreciate the efforts from VC4Africa.”
In the next time zones meetups started in Chicago, New York & Washington
More than 30 people attended in New York.
Meetup host Michael Idiokitas: “It was a great time. The entire spectrum was represented: from entrepreneurs to investors to those with a general interest in the African marketplace, around 50 people showed up.”
“A lot of connections were made tonight, so I foresee some great things in the future as a result.”
In the next time zone meetups started in San Francisco / Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, US
Meetup host Bobby Jones shared the Los Angeles meetup went very well. “10 people showed up, and we had interesting exchanges, ideas etc. Another meet up is to be held before the end of the year!”
Silicon Valley, US
The Silicon Valley meetup was a big success too!
Did you join, or watched it happen online? What inspired you most? Please add it in the comments below!