London: High profile speakers and investors from venture capital funds, development finance institutions, corporate venture capital firms and accelerator programmes have taken part in the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s (AVCA) inaugural Venture Capital in Africa Summit alongside entrepreneurs and founders from across the continent.
The Summit in London gathered the top 150 venture capital leaders from Africa to examine the bottlenecks to unlocking the potential of early stage companies and to catalyse the growth of the industry. The event comes at an exciting time for the VC ecosystem, with investors hunting value earlier in the cycle and African start-ups receiving over 50% more investment in the first half of 2018, than in the whole of 2017.
The Summit was opened by ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Alitheia Identity and Ziad Oueslati, AfricInvest followed by Erik Hersman, one of Kenya’s most successful entrepreneurs and founder of BRCK, who highlighted in a keynote speech how innovation can improve Africa’s infrastructure. Afterwards, a panel with Maurizio Caio, Founder and Managing Partner, TLCom and Ziad Mokhtar, Founder and Managing Partner, Algebra Ventures discussed how start-ups can grow to become unicorns.
In a panel on institutional investors featuring Anthony Barker, Managing Director, The Pension Superfund, David Donahue, Partner at Mbuyu Capital, Michelle Ashworth, Venture Consultant, CDC and Head of Venture for Church Commissioners for England commented that: “there is a perception that VC investments in Africa are risky, but the potential of a successful VC firm is higher than it is with a PE firm. At CDC, we want to generate returns and act as a catalyst for African growth.”
Founders, including the leaders of Andela, Baobab Circle, BINKABI, Flutterwave, InspiraFarms, Jumia and Lidya also discussed the key challenges they faced when building their businesses, with Seni Sulyman, Vice President of Global Operations, Andela remarking that, “access to capital for entrepreneurs remains a major challenge in Africa, but financing alone cannot solve everything: mentorship and support are equally of relevance.”
Dan Kranzler, Senior Partner, Capria and Pule Taukobong, Founding Partner, CRE Venture Capital also focused on how African tech ventures can leapfrog Silicon Valley, while Candace Johnson, President, Johnson Paradigm Ventures took part in an interview where she highlighted the growing role of angel investors and how Africa’s innovations can be replicated in other markets.
A panel with Michael Oluwagbemi, Co-Founder and Executive Partner, Loftyinc and Ben White, Founder, VC4A focused on building viable start-up ecosystems, with the latter adding, “incubator and accelerator programmes play perhaps the most important role in supporting entrepreneurship across the continent and we need to see more holistic engagement from the government, for the VC ecosystem to continue to thrive.”
Els Boerhof, Managing Partner, Goodwell Investments reiterated the impact potential of VC investments in a session with Sev Vettivetpillai, Chief Executive Officer, LGT Impact. A panel with Jen Braswell, Director, Value Creation Strategies, CDC Group and Tosin Durotoye, Chief Strategy Officer, TechAdvance focused on gender parity as a means of boosting returns, with Braswell noting, “in many countries, the majority of entrepreneurs are female, but they usually struggle to secure investment. We’re working hard to reverse this.”
The digital revolution was a key theme of the event, with an interview with Kahina Van Dyke, Senior Vice President, Ripple underlining that, “blockchain can have a major impact on the continent in a great number of areas, including remittances, financial services, governance and contracts but regulators need to be more proactive in their engagement.” This was echoed in a panel focusing on apps featuring Wale Ayeni, Regional Head, Africa, IFC Venture Capital and Tunji Eleso, Managing Partner, Growth Fund. Ayeni noted that, “entrepreneurs in the digital space can build world-class businesses to scale with significantly less time and capital than in other areas. The IFC is proud to work alongside other VC players to help leverage on our experience and fuel the growth of innovative solutions.”
Michelle Kathryn Essomé, Chief Executive Officer, AVCA noted, “venture capital is truly gaining traction across the continent and we expect the industry to go from strength to strength, generating positive returns for investors while also having a substantial developmental impact in a variety of sectors, ranging from financial inclusion, to education and health. It’s certainly a very exciting time for the industry. We believe in the transformative power of private capital on the continent and we will continue to serve as the voice for private equity and venture capital across Africa.”
Notes to editors:
AVCA: Enabling private investment in Africa
The African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association is the pan-African industry body which promotes and enables private investment in Africa.
AVCA plays an important role as a champion and effective change agent for the industry, educating, equipping and connecting members and stakeholders with independent industry research, best practice training programmes and exceptional networking opportunities.
With a global and growing member base, AVCA members span private equity and venture capital firms, institutional investors, foundations and endowments, pension funds, international development finance institutions, professional service firms, academia, and other associations. This diverse membership is united by a common purpose: to be part of the Africa growth story.
For further information, please visit the AVCA website or contact AVCA at: email@example.com or +44 (0)20 3874 7008
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