Largest gathering of investors convene at 8th Africa Early Stage Investor Summit

Momentum and capital behind an Africa tech revolution. Investors at the 8th Africa Early Stage Investor Summit celebrated record-breaking deal-making on the continent surpassing $3 billion invested in 2021 into African startups. 

On November 3rd, 4th, and 5th, VC4A and ABAN hosted the 8th edition of the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit (#AESIS2021): Online and complemented by in-person Investor Meetups hosted in 13 cities around the world. The event welcomed more than 2,000 delegates attending from 75 countries around the world, the largest gathering to date, with more than 600 early-stage Angel and VC investors connecting at the annual summit to take stock of the industry’s progress and to chart the way forward. 

#AESIS2021 was fueled by record-breaking deal-making and startup activity on the continent. The number of startups securing funding in Africa outpaces funding for startups globally. From 2015 through to 2020, the number of African tech startups receiving financial backing grew 46% annually — six times faster than the global average, and marks a new period of growth for Africa tech investing. See the research presentation keeping up in the VC game by Max Cuvellier from Africa: The Big Deal.

David S. Rose, renowned Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, explained in his keynote, ‘The industry is being driven by a young and growing population that is tech-savvy and eager to start a business. Africa’s population is increasingly well connected and eager to consume digital solutions.’ These trends feed a growing interest in the continent and ensure continued investment and support for Africa’s entrepreneurs.

The investment opportunity was unpacked by industry leaders like Lexi Novitske, Managing Partner at Acuity Venture Partners, Tidjane Deme, General Partner at Partech, Pardon Makumbe, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at CRE Venture Capital, and Aniko Szigetvari, Founding Partner at Atlantica Ventures (watch the panel). The extensive program was complemented by a series of investor-only Masterclasses and DFI Speed Dating, a Learning Track made possible by the UK South Africa Tech Hub: 

  • Preparing startup investments for Series A – by Khaled Ismail, HIMangel (see Masterclass)
  • Investing Successfully as an Angel – by Idris Ayodeji Bello, Afropreneur & Founding Partner at LoftyInc Capital Management (see Masterclass)
  • Preparing for Exit and IPO – by Ope (Reju) Sule, LSE AIM Team (see Masterclass)
  • Succeeding in VC as an Africa focused GP – Eghosa Omoigui, General Partner at EchoVC (see Masterclass)

A highlight to the program was the presentation of the latest VC4A’s Venture Showcase cohort of 16 companies currently raising Seed and Series A funding rounds (see the Venture Showcase companies – Seed Cohort and Series A). Noreen Makosewe, the CEO of Radical Leap Company commented, ‘The innovative startups showcased during the Venture Showcase at #AESIS2021 is simply incredible. So inspiring!” Kevin Simmons, a partner at LoftyInc added, ‘As an addicted investor shopper, this event is unreal – I am being excited by so many companies.” VC4A reported that of the 78 ventures that participated in previous Venture Showcase editions, 51 secured investments after or during participation, through 75 investment rounds. The total investment raised through these 75 rounds is $163,4 million, which makes an average of $2,2 million per funding round. 

At the same time, #AESIS2021 showcased many unique initiatives working to unlock necessary capital for companies at the earliest stages of development, starting with the launch of Catalytic Africa, the African Startup Matching Fund, a co-creation of ABAN and AfriLabs with the support of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Digital Africa. Through Catalytic Africa, angel investors and angel networks registered with ABAN will be able to double or triple their investments into African startups registered with AfriLabs-vetted hubs (watch announcements). Also, new funds were announced by LoftyInc and Cairo Angels (watch announcements), fireside chats explored the future of investor syndicates like the Future Africa Collective (watch Fireside Chat), and new plans and investing views were shared by some of the continent’s most prolific investors like Kepple Ventures, 500 Global, Launch Africa, Flat6Labs, (watch panel) and the Naspers Foundry (watch fireside chat).

Improving investor support and access to capital for women was also high on the agenda. Tokunboh Ismael, co-founder of Alithea Capital and Chair at African Venture Capital Association (AVCA) made clear in her keynote, the industry would not realize its potential until it met the needs of the continent’s women, the greatest untapped asset for the future of Africa. Her call to action was mirrored by multiple initiatives including Dazzle Angels, Rising Tide Africa, and ShEquity sharing important updates and roadmap on how the industry is working to address the issue (watch the panel). 

#AESIS2021 Investor meetups in 11 cities across Africa + DC and London from VC4A on Vimeo.

More than 80+ of Africa’s high-profile investors addressed the #AESIS2021 audience over the course of the three-day event. As organizers, we are extremely grateful to the UK South Africa Tech Hub that sponsored the Learning Track and series of Investor Masterclasses. We also thank GIZ and the Make-IT in Africa Program as a general summit partner, making it possible to host #AESISI2021 as a free event. The program and meetups were also not possible without the partnership and support of the Work in Progress Program and Naspers, for whom we are sincerely thankful. 

Mathew Marsden, coFounder at GetLion concluded, ‘The event brought together leading minds in African investing, and in summary, the future is bright. Investment appetite is growing, more funds and angel syndicates are emerging, a diverse array of ecosystems are booming and even more “exits” are anticipated. The message for investors… get in or get left behind!

Join the Investor Community to relive #AESIS2021, network with fellow investors, and discover the most investable companies as part of the Venture Showcase – Seed Cohort and Series A on