Investor Profile: Rodrigue Fouafou – Diaspora investing in startups in Africa

Last year we profiled VC4Africa member and ‘diaspora investor’ Rodrigue Fouafou after his investments in VC4Africa listed companies Njorku & Kiro’o Games. After his recent investment in SOKO Insight, also listed on VC4Africa, we had a chance to catch up.

VC4Africa member and investor Rodrigue Fouafou was born in Cameroon and currently lives and works in Canada. The Cameroonian-Canadian Rodrigue is CEO and President of business consulting and investment company HartNamtemah, which he founded together with Canadian serial entrepreneur and investment advisor Marc Andre Hart.

Rodrigue became a member of the VC4Africa community of entrepreneurs and investors in 2013 and has invested in multiple VC4Africa listed ventures since, including Njorku, Kiro’o Games (based in Cameroon), Bumbou (based in Senegal) and SOKO Insight (based in Canada and working in Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal and other countries).

What have you been up to since we last profiled you?

“Since the creation of Hartnamtemah we are continuing to execute on our strategy and vision. We are headquartered in Toronto, the financial capital of Canada. Over the past couple of months we’ve seen an increase in the demand for mentoring, consulting, financial advice – a sign that Africa is about to become a ‘must’ for all sectors.”

Could you tell something about your current investments?

“We know there is a lack of reliable data and analytics to evaluate investments and opportunity risk. This is where SOKO Insight comes in the picture. The platform is going to allow us to assess the needs and well targeted growth areas. In addition, Njorku gives us the data, needs, gaps in the employment sector. They recently launched “NukeBoard”, a SAAS DIY platform that will help companies or individuals create and maintain their recruitment online. Kiro’o Studios is doing great as well, they just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and are ready to launch their game.”

Last time you told us about Njorku & Kiro’o Games. How did you pick SOKO Insight to invest in and reached a deal with them?

“SOKO Insight’s founder Yannick and I went to the same school of engineering at the University of Ottawa. Back in school, we setup an entrepreneur club to foster entrepreneurship among young Africans studying in Canada. Early this year we spoke after Yannick’s trip to Cameroon and he introduced me to his project SOKO. As a diaspora entrepreneur, I immediately saw the value in building a web-based data collection platform to provide reliable data and insights from Africa. As an investor in start-ups on the continent, we also understand and value data, independent data to assess our investment and business opportunities in Africa. It was natural for us to offer our help and funding to Yannick when he needed additional investment. In April, he told us he has completed the pilot and was ready to scale the platform. We moved quickly to finalize the terms and the deal was closed shortly after.”

Is more coming up?

“Using VC4Africa we have pre-selected dozens of potential ventures to invest in next year. Unfortunately we can’t disclose the names yet. Next year, we plan to diversify our portfolio by investing in the manufacturing and in agriculture sectors.

Africa has the youngest population in the world and it’s an educated but under-utilized workforce. Manufacturing is slowing moving to Africa as labor is cheap and we see an increase in infrastructure investment. China has already begun the transfer textile factories to Ethiopia and Nigeria. IBM and Cisco Systems have opened shops in South Africa. Manufacturing will offer many opportunities. As more developers will enter Africa, demand for machinery, utilities and other products will grow.

Agriculture, and agribusiness specifically, is also important and offers huge potential for Africa. With growing population to feed, it is urgent that Africa invests in modernization of the production and distribution of food. Last, the cultural sector also has a demand for African creations, even beyond the African diaspora. In general the interest for African products is greatly increasing.”

What are your vision and plans for the future?

“Our long-term vision is to help entrepreneurs in Africa create value and prosperity on the continent. That in term will create a virtuous circle that will free Africa and Africans. We are specifically targeting African diaspora everywhere willing to go back home and start businesses. We think they will play a major role in Africa’s development and we want to support them the best we can.”

What would you say to others who are wondering what VC4Africa can do for them?

“The VC4Africa platform allows local and diaspora entrepreneurs from Africa to have much needed visibility around the world, to connect with mentors and investors and to raise funds. Having known the VC4Africa team for their determination and vision, we will continue to work together. The platform is at the center of a prosperity and wealth creation that is just beginning.

It seems just a matter of time before everyone in the world will be aware of the opportunities that are present in Africa.”

VC4Africa is the continent’s leading startup funding platform. Join as an investor to get priority access to Africa’s leading SME entrepreneurs and future research. Join as an entrepreneur to register your venture, follow 5 steps to fundraising and more.