Angel investing in Africa on the rise, but more collaboration is necessary

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Angel investing in Africa is on the rise, but more collaboration and development within the continent’s tech startup ecosystem is necessary for the sector to reach its full potential.

This is according to panellists at the recent Africa Technology Summit (ATS), hosted by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), which convened leading corporate executives, entrepreneurs, investors and media who are shaping Africa’s tech ecosystem.

Ben White, chief executive officer of African funding platform VC4Africa, said his company was seeing a “huge influx” of support, with the number of angel investors increasing substantially.

“Twenty-three per cent were angels investors last year at the investor fair in Kenya. This year there were 50 per cent in the network. That number could grow to 80 per cent by next year,” he said.

“It also means the average experience of the investor community is growing and more people are figuring this out, resulting in a huge interest in the space.”

Yet the space is still developing. Eric Osiakwan, managing partner at Chanzo Capital​, said it was important to understand that Africa is “new”, and will make mistakes.

“The press is getting negative about exits and so on, and that is not very good. But we need to be patient. We should work more with each other,” he said.

“It is a really nice meeting point for those on the ground and those coming in. The meeting of perspectives and experiences all working to enhance the ecosystem. We should have a diverse way of looking at the issues and should compliment each other. There is a growing trend of urbanization of tech communities across the continent and that will be helpful in moving things forward.”

The need for collaboration was also stressed by Amber Fowler, partner at seed and early-stage venture capital firm EchoVC.

“One major difference between Africa and Silicon Valley is that in the Valley they share information even though they do compete as well,” she said.

“They are more open and willing to collaborate. In Africa we have had to encourage them to talk to each other. The openness is crucial but they are resisting that. It is one of the major missing pieces.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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