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Debunking Africa’s startup investing myths, presenting the African opportunity at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2016

Every year, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) brings together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policy makers and other startup champions from more than 160 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures. At the week long event, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to boost their ecosystems with the best practices gathered from their peers around the world.

This year’s event was hosted in Medellin, Colombia. The week long meeting showcased the country’s outstanding hospitality, offered a platform for showcasing the best in ecosystem building programs, and offered valuable networking opportunities. But maybe most important, was the strong representation from Africa. The continent is increasingly recognized as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, and is one of the key reasons the GEC event that will be hosted next year in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the ongoing efforts to engage an international network of stakeholders, and in preparing for next year’s event, the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) and her partners traveled to Medellin under the title ‘Debunking Africa’s Startup Investing Myths’. The session organized by the Lions Africa, a public private partnership that includes organizations like ABAN, DEMO Africa, Microsoft and VC4Africa, aimed to create a greater public awareness and engagement for the role of business angels in helping new firms start and scale across the continent.

Here are some highlights from the Lions Africa panel session titled: Investing in African entrepreneurs: perceptions, myths and recommendations to improve deal flow:

  • Africa is NOT one market. 55 countries and 2000+ languages means there is a vast plurality of ideas, cultures, environments, challenges and opportunities;
  • Good quality data about early stage investments is hard to come by or does not exist; from what we do know, approximately US$200m was invested in early stage tech-related ventures in Africa in 2015;
  • In comparison to the US and EU this number is still very small, but the differentiator in favor of Africa is the enormous untapped potential;
  • A lack of organized angel investor groups leaves a significant gap in the funding cycle compared to more developed markets;
  • Top sectors for 2015 mentioned: Solar, FinTech, Entertainment, eHealth, Telecoms;
  • There are some really impressive stories to be told including Chura, a Kenyan venture connecting mobile networks on one SIM or; Tagmarshal, a company built in South Africa with funding from Germany and revenue in the USA, amongst many others;
  • At the same time a growing number of outstanding ecosystem building platforms that include the likes of DEMO Africa, Impact Amplifier, VC4Africa or our very own ABAN.

The interest to know more about the African startup ecosystem is considerable. Hosting the GEC next year in Johannesburg, South Africa is a significant milestone for the industry and a unique opportunity to bring interested parties to the continent. Working with our partners and friends we are committed to building up a lasting impression that will result in more resources being invested into our brightest entrepreneurs.

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