Broad Street Capital and GreenMax join forces in Africa.

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(New York, April 26th, 2018) Broad Street Capital Group and GreenMax Capital Group join forces to develop and finance large-scale energy projects in Africa.

“We are excited to announce a new partnership with Broad Street Capital Group (BSCG), a New York based emerging markets focused merchant bank. BSCG has recently led a landmark transaction in Ukraine that is a game-changer for enabling financing of parastatal and direct state sponsored infrastructure projects. The facility is a US OPIC wrapped bond issue that for the first time offers 100% long-term debt financing at very low financing rates.” wrote Cliff Aron, Managing Principal at GreenMax.

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Owing to GreenMax’s strong Africa footprint and the company’s longstanding relationship with the Broad  Street Capital Group, the Greenmax organization was selected to lead the introduction of this innovative financing product to the African energy sector. The minimum project size is $150M  and the project must be implemented by a State agency, or parastatal.  In the later case, the host Government must provide a sovereign guarantee.

Broad Street and GreenMax plan to formally launch the product for Africa energy infrastructure at the Africa Energy Forum in Mauritius in June. The joint venture is seeking Power Africa sponsorship for this initiative and expects to be able to secure USTDA grant funding to support the preparation phase for any worthy projects. Although many countries in Africa will qualify for the financing being offered, projects in Nigeria, Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa will be of particular interest.

For more information contact Cliff Aron – cja@greenmaxcap.com

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Here’s how to properly shake hands in 14 different countries

 Business Insider

In Brazil and the United States, a firm handshake is expected. This would be off putting in the UK, as the British like to greet each other with a lighter handshake.

Every country has a unique set of customs, and it is important to recognize and respect cultural differences, especially when conducting business around the world.

We created a helpful guide for handshake etiquette across 14 countries, thanks to information from BBC and Mental Floss:

BI_graphics_handshaking (1)

(Business Insider)

Kenya Siege Damages African Success Story

Major Retailer Whose Flagship Store Was Destroyed Struggles to Recover, as Fears Rise Over Broader Economic Impact

 

By  PATRICK MCGROARTY, WSJ.com

Nakumatt, a homegrown corporate success story in Kenya, is now a charred husk in the wake of the Westgate mall terror attacks. Patrick McGroarty joins the News Hub with a look at what the tragedy means for Africa’s premier emerging economy. (Photo: AP)
NAIROBI, Kenya—When Islamic militants killed dozens of people at Nairobi’s Westgate mall last week, they also battered one of Africa’s homegrown corporate success stories and set back a rising economy.
Gunmen entered the Nakumatt retailer shortly after the assault began on Sept. 21, spraying bullets across the aisles as some shoppers tried to climb the shelves and others cowered with their children in a store room. Those who failed to recite Islamic prayers were executed. The four-day standoff killed at least 67 people, injured hundreds and left a shining symbol of emerging Africa, Nakumatt Holdings Ltd., in tatters.
Nakumatt, which sells everything from bananas to bicycles, earns more than a 10th of its $500 million in annual revenue from its flagship Westgate store, whose destruction is a major blow to the company, said Atul Shah, managing director of Nakumatt Holdings Ltd. Three of his employees were slain in the attack. “We are still trying to believe this is not real,” he said. “‘What next?’ is the question I’m asking.”The question is also weighing on the minds of many investors in Kenya. Like Africa’s other dynamic economies, the country has troubled neighbors, in this case Somalia, whose terror group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. The Westgate attack is a reminder of how easily extremists with guns can move across porous borders to strike at pockets of African prosperity.
“There’s always going to be that lingering fear now: Can this happen again?” said Biniam Yohannes, who manages a fund in Nairobi with $150 million invested in East Africa. Somalia is still emerging from two decades of civil war. African peacekeepers have pushed al-Shabaab out of its Somalian strongholds, including the capital, Mogadishu, but militants have shown they are still capable of violent attacks inside the country and beyond.
A similar pattern has surfaced in other parts of Africa. After Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was deposed in 2011, arms from his arsenal seeped south across the Sahara, bolstering militants that took control of northern Mali this year and continue to attack civilians and soldiers in northern Nigeria. South Africa is hampered by its northern neighbor Zimbabwe, where the failed economic policies of strongman President Robert Mugabe have sent millions of his citizens fleeing across the border. “A state isn’t failing in isolation,” said Clare Allenson, an Africa analyst at Eurasia Group. “When it’s your neighbor there are really problematic linkages.”
Before the Westgate attack, Kenya’s economy was humming. Nairobi, the capital, is a hive for African technology firms and multinationals. Kenya’s statistics agency said Tuesday that the economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.3% in the second quarter and 4.4% in 2012.Moody’s Investors Service said last week that the Westgate attack would likely shave 0.5 percentage points off Kenya’s economic growth this year and curtail critical foreign currency earnings mainly due to the likelihood of fewer tourist visits to the country’s national parks and beaches.Among the biggest potential victims are the companies riding Kenya’s emerging consumer class. Restaurants, hotels and consumer-oriented manufacturers are expected to all feel the pain if Kenyans stay home and foreign visitors curtail spending.
“Kenyans need to be urged to spring back and continue doing whatever they are doing, defy all the doings of terrorists and support growth,” said Nakumatt’s Mr. Shah.  Mr. Shah, 53 years old, was raised in the dusty Rift Valley town of Nakuru, where he grew up working in his father’s mattress store. In the late 1980s he dreamed of converting it into a chain of Western-style grocery and retail outlets, opening his first store in Nairobi in 1992.Today Nakumatt is East Africa’s top retailer by sales and revenue, with 40 stores across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. Before the Westgate attack, Mr. Shah was developing plans to open six stores this year in Kenya and Uganda. He still hopes to do so. Its Westgate store, in the heart of Nairobi’s embassy district, attracted the city’s comfortable and cosmopolitan upper crust. Mr. Shah visited the store himself on the morning of the attack, and he had just settled into his office near the airport when his wife called him screaming. 
image

Associated Press

A Kenyan policeman walks through the remains of the Nakumatt store in Nairobi’s Westgate mall on Tuesday, days after Islamist militants attacked.
“There is firing going on like mad, mad—they are going to kill us,” Ms. Shah said from her car, parked outside Westgate, Mr. Shah recalled. She cowered beneath the steering wheel while attackers fired 10 bullets into her car. Mr. Shah rushed to the scene, hoping to help her and a regional manager taking cover on the store’s loading bay as militants gunned down shoppers and workers inside. “I was just trying to be hopeful,” Mr. Shah said. “I could do nothing else.”
After avoiding malls for a week, Mr. Yohannes, the private equity director, said he started shopping again at a Nakumatt two blocks from Westgate. Such a yearning for normality, says he and others, points to the potential recovery for Nakumatt, a pillar of daily life for many East Africans, and other retailers. “Consumer demand is still intact—people still need reliable goods and services and suppliers need to keep up,” said Vimal Shah, who heads an edible oils manufacturer that supplies Nakumatt and isn’t related to its owner.On Tuesday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to keep the country on track and punish the perpetrators. “We fought back as one people and continue to heal our grievances together,” he told a multi-faith prayer service in honor of those killed.He also announced a government inquiry into the police and army’s response to the attack.
Business owners in the mall have accused those forces of looting their stores, and Kenya’s Red Cross says 39 people may still be missing in connection with the attack. The government maintains no one has been reported missing to police.Meanwhile, Mr. Shah is trying to mend his business. He spent the last 10 days meeting with tight-lipped security personnel and insurance companies, discerning what he’ll recoup from a store that contained up to $11.6 million worth of stock and equipment. Reassuring those who work for him and buy his goods could take longer. “We’re in trouble. There’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “We have to bring customers back.”

Write to Patrick McGroarty at patrick.mcgroarty@wsj.com

What can western entrepreneurs learn from East African startups?

From local-sourcing and utility models to investing in growth,Quinton Wall reflects on a trip to East Africa’s startup scene.

The Guardian

Traffic on an East African rural highway at sunset

Photograph: Alamy

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to visit East Africa, specifically Kenya and Uganda, to meet with local entrepreneurs in the region. My job in San Francisco means that I often visit many of the major tech hubs around the world, but still, I was not prepared for the amount of inspiration I got from my trip to Africa.

To put it mildly, the entrepreneurial flair in the region is electric. Opportunity is as fertile as the red soil of the land underfoot, waiting to be harvested. So what can western entrepreneurs learn from this rapidly emerging region?

Focus on growth

It is clear that mobile is leading the way across Africa, and like many emerging countries, they skipped right past the cable infrastructure that tethers much of western country communication to expensive and aging technology.

One technology hub I visited, the m:lab, was full of state-of-the-art mobile devices and teeming with eager mobile app developers. However, these entrepreneurs weren’t just being taught how to build more apps, they were being taught how to build growth businesses. Before you can graduate from the m:lab, students must register a business, bring their product to market and show at least six months of growth.

This focus on rapid growth was inspiring. Investors are harder to come by in this region, so entrepreneurs are forced to look at how every decision, whether it is product or personnel-related, affects the business in its earliest stages.

West-sourcing v local-sourcing

Nairobi benefits the most from western investment. It is truly a city on the verge of greatness, but this attention from foreign companies comes at a price. Many of the entrepreneurs I met in Nairobi were westerners who saw an opportunity and quickly set up shop. As these companies grew, they hired local staff, which is fantastic for the local economy, but I couldn’t help but feel that this emphasis on west-sourcing is only good in the short term. For a region heavily influenced by colonial rule, independence and national identity are powerful motivators.

Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is a great example of where I believe local-sourcing will serve the country and economy well in the long term. Kampala often misses out on foreign investment to Nairobi. The result is a heavy investment in local skills training and a very tight entrepreneur community, where everyone knows everyone and is willing to help out. They are the underdogs. They have everything to lose.

The importance of local-sourcing anywhere in the world cannot be underestimated. There will always be magnets of tech investment that draw foreign attention, but every one of these tech hubs started with friends helping friends, and locals helping locals – just look at the lineage of almost every software or hardware company in Silicon Valley.

It begins with utilities

Entrepreneurs that I met with during my time in East Africa were heavily focused on building basic utility services: communication, money transfer, social good projects and healthcare, for example. By developing utility services, even the most remote communities benefit from the influx of technology and investment – foreign or local.

With such a large rural population in East Africa, these utility services can quickly become the new normal. m-Pesa is probably the most notable example. The microfinance platform now manages the transfer of roughly 31% of the Kenyan GDP through mobile phones – never touching a bank!

Western entrepreneurs can learn a lot from the East African utility model. Studying the economy of a desired market is a sensible approach, deciding whether basic services are required first, or if the community is ready for convenience services such as social networking, lifestyle (news, travel, music, shopping) or business apps (track a package, check invoices etc). Of course, even within established countries, disruptive ideas that reimagine basic services can be the next killer technology – just ask Square or Twitter.

Now it’s your turn

If my time in East Africa taught me anything, it is the realisation that wherever there is opportunity, there are creative individuals we collectively refer to as entrepreneurs who thrive on building something out of nothing. Whether growing a hot startup in downtown San Francisco, studying computer science in Hyderabad, or selling fresh produce at a local farmer’s market, the learnings from my time in East Africa always apply: focus on a business model designed for growth, invest locally, and if utility services either don’t exist or are ready for disruption, (re)invent them.

Quinton Wall is director of technical platform marketing at salesforce.com

America’s Africa Opportunity

 David Michael, National Interest.org 

It would be easy to describe President Obama’s trip to Africa earlier this summer as a triumph of symbolism over substance. Much of the news reporting supported this impression, focusing on stage-managed photo ops—in Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell, for example—rather than the big picture.

Beyond the cameras’ view, however, a very important story has been unfolding in the world’s second most-populous continent: that of sweeping economic change and the opportunities these changes have created for American businesses and the U.S. economy.

The future success of the U.S. economy depends on the growth of our private sector: what we call the “growth imperative.” READ MORE

A NEW, MUST-READ REPORT ON AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS OUT

Omidyar Network releases Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa report 

 

Nur Bremmen: Staff reporterBy VentureBurn.com

Orthographic map of Africa

Orthographic map of Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

We have the pleasure of presenting the Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa report compiled by theOmidyar Network, the philanthropic foundation established by Pierre Omidyar — the founder of eBay — in partnership with global strategy consulting film, Monitor Group. This epic 48-page report is the result of a three-phase research project launched in 2012 aimed to better understand the state of entrepreneurship in Africa.

 

The project started with a survey of 582 entrepreneurs across six Sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania which was then augmented into 72 in-depth interviews. It promises to be one of the most comprehensive studies done on African entrepreneurship to date.

Benchmarked against 19 global peers like China, India, the USA and the UK, the issues addressed were divided into four critical aspects of entrepreneurship:

  • Entrepreneurial assets: financing, skills and talent, and infrastructure
  • Business support: government programmes and incubation
  • Policy accelerators: legislation and administrative burdens
  • Motivations and mindset: legitimacy, attitudes, and culture

READ MORE

 

 

Brics Nations Take Steps on Currency Trade, Bank

Brazil and China Set Currency Swap, but Bloc’s Idea for Development Bank Encounters Some Obstacles

By PATRICK MCGROARTY in Durban and DEVON MAYLIE in Pretoria, The Wall Street Journal
[image]ReutersSouth Africa’s first lady Bongi Ngema toasts China’s first lady Peng Liyuan as President Jacob Zuma looks on.

Members of the Brics group of emerging markets took steps to trade their currencies more freely and to establish a joint development bank, seeking to counter the influence that developed countries exert over the global economy.

Brazil and China agreed Tuesday at a summit of Brics leaders in Durban, South Africa, to use their central banks to swap up to $30 billion in Brazilian real and Chinese yuan over the next three years, allowing businesses to trade between the two countries without converting earnings and investments to U.S. dollars, the standard conduit of global trade.

Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, said the arrangement, which the countries have been working toward since this past June, would give them a means to exchange currencies “independent of the conditions of financial markets.” He also said the Brics countriesBrazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—were close to an agreement to pool some foreign-currency reserves in case of a balance-of-payments crisis.

The bloc’s move to create a new development bank, however, was weighed down by disagreements over funding and management, said Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. “On the whole, we agreed that we will continue to work on creating a Brics bank once the unresolved questions are answered,” the Interfax news agency quoted Mr. Siluanov as saying.

South Africa’s finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, added that he was pleased with the negotiations. “We’re on track,” he said.

South African officials want a new development bank to fund infrastructure projects that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have overlooked. Larger Brics members, such as China and India, are eager to establish an institution that could extend their influence deeper into Africa and other emerging markets where their economic interests are expanding.

The Brics’ slow march toward establishing their own bank illustrates their struggle to move past populist rhetoric to true cooperation between powerful and sometimes adversarial nations. Each is eager to reap the benefits of a larger trade group—and all are fearful of being flooded with products from the others, particularly China.

“What we now seek to address jointly is to find the means towards a more equitable balance of trade,” South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma told reporters in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, after meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping. “Africa is counting on the People’s Republic of China for support in the continent’s development.”

Mr. Xi acknowledged China is pursuing its own commercial interests in Africa. “We each see the other side as an opportunity for our own development,” he said.

According to the proposals discussed Tuesday, each country would likely contribute up to $10 billion to the bank, an official said, speaking before plans were to be approved by the national leaders gathering Wednesday. The bank would focus on infrastructure development, he said, both in the five-nation group and in emerging markets where they want to do business.

But economists and business leaders said an initial pool of $50 billion wouldn’t be enough for the bank to make its mark in Africa or elsewhere.

“At this point it’s somewhat symbolic,” said Anthony Thunström, chief operating officer for accounting firm KPMG LLP‘s Africa investment program. “Its potential will only be realized when it’s better capitalized, and I think that’s going to be a longer-term project.”

More specific decisions—including which country will host the bank and where it will invest—will be postponed at least until the bloc’s next summit meeting in Brazil in 2014, he said.

“There is general agreement that there is a need for this,” said the official involved in the negotiations. “Creating a multilateral institution takes quite a long time from being an idea to being set up.”

 

BRICS Nations Plan New Bank to Bypass World Bank, IMF

By Mike Cohen & Ilya Arkhipov –  Bloomberg.com

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
The leaders of the so-called BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are set to approve the establishment of a new development bank during an annual summit that starts today in the eastern South African city of Durban.

The biggest emerging markets are uniting to tackle under-development and currency volatility with plans to set up institutions that encroach on the roles of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

BRICS Nations Plan New Bank to Encroach on World Bank Turf

The leaders of the so-called BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia,IndiaChina and South Africa — are set to approve the establishment of a new development bank during an annual summit that began today in the eastern South African city of Durban, officials from all five nations say. They will also discuss pooling foreign-currency reserves to ward off balance of payments or currency crises.“The deepest rationale for the BRICS is almost certainly the creation of new Bretton Woods-type institutions that are inclined toward the developing world,” Martyn Davies, chief executive officer of Johannesburg-based Frontier Advisory, which provides research on emerging markets, said in a phone interview. “There’s a shift in power from the traditional to the emerging world. There is a lot of geo-political concern about this shift in the western world.”

The BRICS nations, which have combined foreign-currency reserves of $4.4 trillion and account for 43 percent of the world’s population, are seeking greater sway in global finance to match their rising economic power. They have called for an overhaul of management of the World Bank and IMF, which were created in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944, and oppose the practice of their respective presidents being drawn from the U.S. and Europe.

Reform Needed

“We need to change the way business is conducted in the international financial institutions,” South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a March 15 speech in Johannesburg. “They need to be reformed.”

The U.S. has failed to ratify a 2010 agreement to give more sway to emerging markets at the IMF, while it secured Jim Yong Kim, an American, as head of the World Bank last year over candidates from Nigeria and Colombia.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the BRICS nations, who met in Durban today, agreed to set up currency crisis fund of about $100 billion, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters today. He didn’t give details of proposed funding for the new bank, which Brazil wants established by 2014. The nation’s leaders are due to sign a final accord tomorrow.

FDI Inflows

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neillcoined the BRIC term in 2001 to describe the four emerging powers he estimated would equal the U.S. in joint economic output by 2020. Brazil, Russia, India and China held their first summit four years ago and invited South Africa to join their ranks in December 2010.

Trade within the group surged to $282 billion last year from $27 billion in 2002 and may reach $500 billion by 2015, according to data from Brazil’s government. Foreign direct investment into BRICS nations reached $263 billion last year, accounting for 20 percent of global FDI flows, up from 6 percent in 2000, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said on its website yesterday.

“If they announce a BRICS bank it will be quite something,” O’Neill said in an e-mailed reply to questions on March 15. “At a minimum it symbolizes they can achieve something as political group and means lots of other things could follow in the future. It also means that they will have their own kind of special World Bank, which may aid infrastructure and trade projects.”

Currency Pool

While BRICS leaders may approve the creation of a development bank in principle at the summit, details on funding and operations may take longer to finalize.

Russia favors capping each side’s initial contribution at $10 billion, Mikhail Margelov, PresidentVladimir Putin’s envoy to Africa he said in a March 15 interview in Moscow.

“It will be some time before it will be feasible for this bank to start financing say, a railway project,” Simon Freemantle, an analyst at Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest lender, told reporters in Durban yesterday. “That is some way out.”

Interest rates near zero in the U.S., Japan and Europe have fueled foreign investors’ appetite for higher-yielding assets, driving up currencies from Brazil to Turkey. Brazil has warned of a global currency war as nations take reciprocal action to weaken their currencies and protect export industries.

African Leaders

Brazil’s real has gained 1.9 percent against the dollar since the beginning of the year, while South Africa’s rand has dropped 8.7 percent in the period.

For South Africa, which makes up just 2.5 percent of total gross domestic product in BRICS, the summit is a way to showcase its role as an investment gateway to Africa. President Jacob Zuma has invited 15 African heads of state, including Egypt’s Mohamed Mursi and Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn, for talks with the BRICS leaders at the summit. For most of the BRICS leaders, it’s also the first opportunity to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping after his appointment on March 17.

“We will discuss ways to revive global growth and ensure macroeconomic stability, as well as mechanisms and measures to promote investment in infrastructure and sustainable development,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement yesterday.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

Is Africa’s business opportunity over-hyped?

Stories about Africa’s astonishing economic growth, a rapidly advancing
middle-class and a unique business opportunity
not to be missed, have been told time and time again at conferences
and in the media over the past years.

Kennedy Bungane, CEO of Barclays Africa, says investors should focus on the hard data concerning Africa's economic growth.

Kennedy Bungane, CEO of Barclays Africa,
Over the past 18 months both Time magazine andThe Economist came out with covers that read ‘Africa rising’.
The Economist’s cover caused quite a stir because 11 years earlier the publication called Africa “the hopeless continent”.

READ MORE

Crowdfunding In Africa

African tech startups raise $1 million in crowdfunding effort

Africa is the most exciting place in the world these days for tech entrepreneurship.

For proof, look no further than the the VC4Africa blog, which covers Africa’s exploding tech startup scene, and its parent organization,Venture Capital for Africa, which raises investment funds for some of the continent’s most promising early-stage startups.

VC4Africa’s mission is “crowdsourcing a startup movement across Africa.” The movement was there, capital both from within and without the continent was there, and coming now in greater and greater gouts, but the crowdsourcing was not. VC4Africa and a small handful of other groups, such as HumanIPO, are seeking to fill the gap, with increasing success.

The one-year-old organization has so far raised over $1 million in direct investment for early-stage startups on the continent, targeting the underserved sector of companies with less than a million-dollar valuation.

A matchmaking service, uniting African entrepreneurs and their companies with individuals interested in investing in them, today announced its 10,000th member. It has also reached 1,000 African enterprise members.

The service vets qualified investors and credible startups before admitting them to the community, adds a social element in profiles and interactivity, and provides “self-help tools, business modeling workshops, and member hosted networking opportunities,” in addition to structured mentoring programs.

There’s a lot of money at play, too. As Wired so crassly put it, “Want to become an Internet billionaire? Move to Africa.”

But if your goal is some good old-fashioned neo-colonial resource-extraction-style investment, think again. Africans by and large have learned from their previous relationships with non-Africans and, as a group—especially as a plugged-in group—its entrepreneurs seem unwilling to sell out their long-term interests for short-term gain. One relationship will stand in for many in this respect.

The South Korean corporation Samsung partnered with the iLab at Nairobi, Kenya’s Strathmore University, funding a wing of the tech research institute. But instead of “owning” the work of the students and faculty they are funding, they get first-look opportunities to license the tech. The ownership of the IP remains with the creators.

This is the new context for investment in Africa, and the sense of independence and control is not incidental to the burgeoning tech industry on the continent. When you are motivated by a sense of pride and ownership, you tend to give it your all. The resulting quality and market have inspired VC4Africa’s investors to risk minimum investments of $10,000 on the network’s entrepreneurs.

That boomtown, smash-and-grab attitude is one of the reasons the founders wanted to build face-to-face relationships between its members before diving into funding, co-founder Ben White told the Daily Dot.

“We don’t think people should be leaning back in their chairs and investing through a computer screen,” said White. “VC4Africa might be a virtual platform, but its a community that consists of real people who often meet in person.”

They have hosted meetups in 40 cities, in Africa and elsewhere.

But White believes that the investing climate in African tech has already matured to the point where the ability to sweep in and “invest” the crap out of a place like an early 20th century bauxite tycoon is starting to change.

“If you have the foresight to get on a plane and go to Bujumbura with the intention to invest today,” admits White, “you will be able to meet the country’s top entrepreneurs. Capital is limited and this means early investors might have an advantage setting the terms. This can be seen as unfair advantage.”

However, as any market matures, the increased competition starts to level the playing field.

“I think many (African) markets are actually starting to move into this next stage of development and we see things starting to settle,” he said. “Local investors increase their participation over time and a healthy ecosystem starts to emerge as a result.”

In the final analysis, however, “the ecosystem and the agenda has to be driven by entrepreneurs” and they are thick on the ground in Africa.

As those who were in San Francisco in the mid-nineties know, there is no place so exciting as ground zero of an explosion in intellectual capital. Africa, with a population of 1 billion people, 50 percent of whom are under 30, connected as never before to the global community and with tools to build with that many more people can afford, is in the midst of a renaissance that could make the Bay Area’s last-century heyday seem like a footnote.

VC4Africa’s story is interesting. But it’s one story among millions whose first chapters are only now being written. VC4Africa is a keyhole through which, if you put your eye right up to it, you might be able to see the next century spread out across the continent’s savannas, forests and coasts.

Photos by Venture Capital for Africa

 

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