Africa’s Startup Ecosystem Set for Massive Growth, Experts Say

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Africa’s startup ecosystem is set for massive growth, experts at the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit have revealed. Stakeholders at the recently-concluded event agreed that the growing number of startups securing major financial commitments sets the stage for an entirely new era of growth in the African venture capital industry.

This was the most discussed topic during the sixth edition of the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit held this November in Cape Town, South Africa.

Growing interest from foreign investors, including an increasing number of Chinese investors, startup valuations becoming too high, entrepreneurs increasingly looking to international markets and the question if local entrepreneurs are really benefiting from the influx of funding, were highlighted across a rapid series of panels, keynotes, fireside chats and roundtables across the three day event, that marks the 6th year Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A) and African Business Angel Network (ABAN) organize the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit.

Industry leaders challenged these topics while sharing insights and lessons learned from investing in the continent’s top businesses. Participants dove head-first into these and many more startup ecosystem topics with African powerhouses like Pieter de Villiers, Eghosa Omoigui, Keet van Zyl, Rebecca Enonchong, Ido Sum, Lauren Cochran, Tomi Davies, Marième Diop, Johann Choux, Paul Cook, Yassine Oussaifi,  Llew Claasen, Abu Bakr Cassim, Olivier Furdelle, Khaled Ismail, Ben White, David van Dijk and many others, leading the conversations.

The 2019 event comprised 3 days of rich content and networking activities including new components this year such as a full-day Fund Manager Training and curated speed-dating sessions between Limited Partners and General Partners.

Co-organizers, ABAN and VC4A, welcomed 330 investors representing Africa’s early stage investing ecosystem. The Summit attracted the highest ever number of early stage African investors from 35 different countries representing 110-plus investor organizations, funds, family foundations and business angel networks.

Rebecca Enonchong, female founder and treasurer of the African Business Angels Network announced the Catalyst initiative to summit attendees. The initiative, in partnership with Afrilabs and funded by the AFD will stimulate angel investing across the continent by matching investments up to EUR 60K. She adds: “This mechanism helps build layers in the ecosystem and creates more pipeline for investors since angels will be able to invest in more businesses.”

Everyone at the Summit agreed that Africa’s startup ecosystem is maturing. To-date in 2019, over $1billion has been raised with 83 deals alone exceeding $1million and with 18% of those companies co-founded by women.

The event concluded that “the hunger and energy to do better and to do more is mighty.” With the quick adoption of Netflix across the continent, as Enonchong reiterated that in Africa, the potential is endless. It emerged that the key to ecosystem growth and success is to treat Africans as consumers.

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