The quality of startup founders in Africa is on a par with the rest of the world, though the ecosystem is less developed, according to the co-managing director of Startupbootcamp Africa.
Launched in 2010, Startupbootcamp operates 18 accelerator programmes in locations that include Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Singapore, Miami and New York. The company announced the launch of its first African programme in April, and is currently working with with 10 startups at its base in Cape Town.
Co-managing director of Startupbootcamp Africa Philip Kiracofe was speaking at the recent AHUB startup event in Cape Town when he said African startup founders were just as good as their peers internationally.
“The founder quality that we have found here is certainly on a par with the rest of the world. The companies are less developed but that is to do with the state of the ecosystem,” he said.
“When you go to Silicon Valley, it is the innovation capital of the world, but the entrepreneurs are not all from there. There are a lot of entrepreneurs that have been drawn there.”
It is Startupbootcamp’s ambition, he said, to play a role in building the African tech startup ecosystem so it can attract the most promising entrepreneurs from around the world in much the same way Silicon Valley does today.
“The goal for us is to build such an ecosystem that African entrepreneurs don’t leave, and that the best entrepreneurs from around the world come here because this is where the opportunities are. We are taking a long view on this but we are hugely invested in the opportunities,” he said.
Speaking on the same panel, Antoinette Prophy, founder and managing director at the 88 Business Collective, advised startups not to copy Silicon Valley, but rather build businesses for Africa.
“Don’t adopt the Silicon Valley mindset of chasing unicorns, but solve African problems. If you become a unicorn, great, but I think a lot of African investors are coming here looking for unicorns but don’t solve problems. We need you to, the continent deserves you to,” she said.