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Reflecting on Africa’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Reflecting on Africa’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Mahlatse Tolamo

Mahlatse Tolamo | February 3, 2023

2023 has a great outlook for the African entrepreneurship ecosystem landscape as the continent has received great attention all over the world since the pandemic. According to Partech, it is estimated that up to $2billion of funding in form of equity and debt went into African tech startups in 2019.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 seemed like it would be a bad year for the African entrepreneurship landscape however, African startups raised approximately $1,5billion and saw two exits from Strip – Paystack and World Renut – Semdwave.

 

2021 was the year when the world was open for business and there were less COVID restrictions. People adopted new habits in e-commerce, working from home tools and e-learning, giving startups more opportunities and problems to solve. This was the year when the continent took center stage as startups raised over $4billion and more importantly, 4 African startups rose to unicorn status.

 

2022 was the year that we saw interesting trends in the African ecosystem which shun positive light on the continent’s ecosystem. We saw 2 African countries who are known to produce tech talent, Nigeria and DRC joining the list of countries that have startup acts. Subsequently, this act will encourage innovation and the formation, growth and operations of startups within these countries and those looking to scale within their markets. Furthermore, a report by CB Insights indicated that African startups raised an estimated $4,5billion in 2022 and while no unicorn emerged, notable deals were made.

 

The growth of the technology ecosystem has been instrumental in the increase of the developer population on the continent. These numbers, however, do not address the need for skilled talent, both technical and non-technical, which is essential in maintaining the startup ecosystem. Despite the ecosystem growth and investments made, Africa still needs more training in various forms of capacity building, mentorship, access to markets and financial inclusion.

 

22 On Sloane firmly believes that one organisation cannot create the impact needed. Rather, we believe that it takes a combination of organisations to strengthen the ecosystem for entrepreneurs to get access to the resources required in the startup cycle. It’s vital for the ecosystem to have the startup at the center with the right players to assist in their development. As such financial institutions, corporates and government partners must be involved from the beginning to make the journey inclusive and sustainable through co-creation and collaborations.

 

Startups do not only need the technology to sustainably succeed, they also need the right business architecture. Ecosystems need to address these concerns holistically for startups to manage their growth phase of their business. As such Incubation and Accelerator hubs have been seen to play a vital role in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses by providing safe an enabling environment that helps startups identify and be clear on what sectors they are targeting, what problems they are trying to solve and the opportunities that are within their sectors.

 

Government plays a critical assistance role in creating business friendly policies alongside institutions like the AfCFTA whose objective, amongst others, is to significantly boost Intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of the African economy.

 

Given the above highlights, it is evident that Africa has great potential in producing sustainable tech startups with the correct support. The African entrepreneurship ecosystem requires a platform by Africans for Africans where entrepreneurs can leverage in order to get access to markets and feel included in the ecosystem.

 

To address the above African ecosystem needs, 22 On Sloane in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa will be hosting the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC+) Africa. GEN Africa’s key mandate is to support and connect African entrepreneurs to the best global resources and investor network, create platforms that will drive a coordinated, consolidated and collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystems and advocate for policies that will drive sustainable growth for entrepreneurs on the African continent.

 

Although there are many entrepreneurship events that bring together ecosystem role-players, GEC+Africa aims to leverage its community which has a footprint in 43 countries across Africa. As such this platform will give entrepreneurs better access to markets and allow them to scale effectively to other GEN Africa member countries. Additionally, this is aligned with the AfCFTA’s objective mentioned above which is to encourage Inter-Africa trade.

 

GEC+Africa is a platform where African entrepreneurs will be celebrated. To ensure that the entire continent is featured, we will have lead up activities in Southern Africa, North Africa, West Africa and East Africa which will be led by GEN Africa member countries. These lead up activities will be a platform to showcase regional entrepreneurship.

 

We strongly encourage, entrepreneurs, investors, Enterprise Support Organisations and policy makers to participate in this congress as it forms part of the movement of strengthening the African entrepreneurship ecosystem, sharing knowledge and celebrating entrepreneurs who are making strides in bridging the socio-economic gaps that the continent face and more importantly they are job creators. For more information about GEC+Africa , email the Project Lead: carmen@22onsloane.co and Ecosystem Enabler: mahlatse@22onsloane.co

 

Ecosystem Enabler at 22 On Sloane and GEN South Africa’s Managing Director,

Mahlatse Tolamo

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