Africa is “ripe” with entrepreneurial spirit and business opportunities from the need to solve everyday problems, according to Christina Tamer, investment analyst at Invested Development.
Founded in 2009, Invested Development is an impact investment management firm headquartered in Boston, United States (US) that also keeps an office in Nairobi, Kenya, and makes capital investments in innovative alternative energy, agricultural and mobile tech startups.
Among its investments in Africa are Ugandan startup SolarNow, which sells and finances solar home systems, and Kenya’s BRCK, which looks to solve the remote connectivity problem with its rugged backup generator for the internet.
Tamer told Disrupt Africa Invested Development had also made investments in Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa, and was always actively reviewing investment opportunities in the region in order to find startups that fit its criteria.
“A colleague of mine once said it’s hard to be in Africa and not see business opportunities to solve problems everyday,” she said.
“Entrepreneurial spirit is ripe, and we are happy to see and support programmes that are helping entrepreneurs hone their skills and ideas to create investment-ready businesses.”
She said it was becoming increasingly possible for seed investors to find well-vetted and supported opportunities in Africa, but that work needed to be done on the ecosystem as a whole.
“In Silicon Valley, there are many veterans available to catalyse innovation and investment with their experience, industry knowledge, networks, and deep pockets,” Tamer said.
“Africa is still on the bleeding edge of this type of trend, so firms like ours are trying to accelerate the closing of that gap. We do that by combining the financial resources of high net worth individuals and our industry knowledge and networks to catalyse innovation that will generate strong financial and social returns.”
Tamer said Invested Development’s investment management style was hands-on, especially in the first 18-24 months.
“We focus on helping our portfolio companies meet key milestones that will get them to the next round of investment, including providing flexible working capital to catalyse growth,” she said.
Invested Development focuses on its three main focus areas because of the unique challenges in Africa.
“Connectivity and power issues are prominent, which is why we focus on technology innovations in those areas to bridge that gap for households and small businesses alike,” Tamer said.
“In agriculture, farmer productivity in Africa lags behind all other continents because of the dearth of technology solutions available and adopted. We’re investing in the business models that make those technologies accessible to make those productivity leaps in food production that will be required to feed the population, which, in Africa, will double by 2050. Our combined approach to financing, choosing focus areas, and supporting the ecosystem is designed to maximise impact potential in Africa and other emerging markets.”