Africa’s Startup Ecosystem on the Brink of Massive Growth

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa: 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 AESIS2019 held recently 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 round-tables across the three day event, that marks the 6th year VC4A and ABAN organize the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit.

Lessons learned from investing in the continent’s top businesses

Industry leaders challenged these topics while sharing insights and lessons learned from investing in the continent’s top businesses. At AESIS2019, 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. Both of which were oversubscribed. The first day of the Summit also included the first Annual General Meeting for the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) as efforts continue to spur angel investing across the continent and to unlock resources for starting companies at their earliest stages of development.

The organizers 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+ investor organizations, funds, family foundations and business angel networks. The motivation? To bring together leading investors from Africa and beyond to network, exchange insights, create partnerships and make deals.

Key takeaways from the Summit include:

  • The number of women (co-)founders are on the rise at 18% in 2019
  • Africa’s startup ecosystem, as of 2018, is on par with Southeast Asia’s of 2014, with major increase in early-stage investing expected
  • Ecosystem actors need to stop looking to Silicon Valley and create own ecosystem model and path for growth, African startups create social impact but investing for profit remains leading driver for investor participation
  • Fund managers and investors need to play the long game to reap any returns while there is a need for more fund managers to enter the industry
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