An energy entrepreneur that has become an investor – talk about paying it forward.
That is the path Angela Homsi has taken. The co-founder of Ignite, which develops, operates and finances safe clean energy-based solutions across Africa, she is also managing partner of Angaza Capital, part of the Ignite Group.
“We were entrepreneurs in the field, understanding real pain points as we went along. Global institutional finance and investment experience throughout our careers helped us build a path that we found would present real solutions. After talking to a wide scope of stakeholders including regional entrepreneurs, governments, development finance institutions, bankers, and more, we decided to launch,” Homsi told Disrupt Africa.
Launched last year, Angaza is yet to announce its first investment, but is backed by sovereign, DFI, and global private investors out of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Its initial focus is on Rwanda.
“We are working together with the African Development Bank and Government of Rwanda to enable a smart finance and innovation ecosystem to emerge in Rwanda, mobilising international partners and investors to look at the African entrepreneurship ecosystem, and cross-borders bridges for future collaborations,” said Homsi.
“This includes gaining the support of UAE-based institutions like Abu-Dhabi Global Markets and Israel-based expertise with organizations such as Startup Nation Central, the Milken Institute, and more.”
Angaza Capital is interested in early growth-stage cutting-edge innovative solutions led by very strong and resilient teams, primarily in digital health and agri-tech, but also in other enabling tech areas such as fintech, ed-tech, and smart logistics.
“We believe that the real work starts after we invest. Our most important element is our full team of in-house international experts that encompass our ventures, dedicated to supporting the founders and scaling the companies globally. We also invest with the intent to keep on deploying sizeable capital regularly for our companies as they grow,” Homsi said.
Homsi’s own background has been in investment and entrepreneurship globally, but she decided a while back that the time was right to focus on Africa and the Middle East.
“I have been an investor at Goldman Sachs, Generation Investment Management, joined Microvests’ investment committee, and co-founded Ignite. I am originally from the North part of Africa with my roots in Egypt and Lebanon, and lived in London, Tel Aviv, and Dubai. Throughout my entire career, I have been focused on using business and finance as a driver of a positive impact on a large scale – a way to mainstream sustainable capitalism,” she said.
The recent development in tech is the game-changing tool enabling massive progress at scale. Africa is the continent that presents the most acute and urgent needs, meaning the biggest market opportunities and the largest possible impact. Investing in scalable solutions that answer these real needs is the way to unlock this potential commercially – startups doing that will be winners of the future.”
She believes the tech space in Africa has “unbelievable potential”.
“It can and is already delivering better, cleaner, more affordable solutions across a vast array of industries. It really is exciting because it has the potential to create and construct new normals that Western countries cannot even imagine due to their aging, rooted in the past infrastructures and incumbents,” said Homsi.
Yet investor interest in the space is hard to gauge right now, especially given the fact the world is in “crisis mode”.
“That being said, we see long term outsized growth potential. This will be realisable as long as the countries, their governments and policymakers welcome private investors and enable a safe regulatory environment and governance,” said Homsi.
From Angaza’s perspective, COVID-19 has accelerated the urgency and boosted innovation mindset and resilience.
“It also requires a lot more work in a more difficult environment. But we embrace the challenge, with an even higher sense of commitment. It has indeed put a lot of things in perspective, more than ever,” Homsi said.
“We plan on deploying US$30 million to US$40 million of capital in life-changing technologies, and lead the way to a more inclusive and sustainable future.”