A growing network of networks supporting mobile innovation

A growing network of networks supporting mobile innovation

“Africa as a geographic space is a hotbed for innovation right now.  Never before have we seen so many people pick up the entrepreneurial challenge,” said Ben White, opening speaker on Day 3 of infoDev’s Mobile Startup Camp.   

Mobile Startup Camp participants enjoy a cool day in Dupont Circle, Washington DC.

Ben knows this firsthand.  As co-founder of VC4Africa, he’s had a front row seat to the explosion of young African entrepreneurs, and the growing ecosystem of mentors and investors looking to support their development.   VC4Africa is an online platform that connects these stakeholders to one another for mutual benefit.  For entrepreneurs, the platform provides opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from one another, as well as tools and mentorship that helps them become ‘investment-ready’.  For angel investors and other partners, the platform provides an on-ramp to the African innovation space, and access to the entrepreneurs that fit their investment profiles. 

“We’re trying to align incentives so that deals get done,” explains Ben. “Our hope is that the entrepreneurs we’re supporting today will be the next generation of mentors and investors tomorrow.”

In many ways, the Mobile Startup Camp is a face-to-face microcosm of the virtual ecosystem VC4Africa is creating.  Throughout the week, 18 up-and-coming entrepreneurs from Africa and the Caribbean have had the chance to meet and learn from one another, and receive mentorship support from seasoned entrepreneurs and angel investors.  Core to infoDev’s support to these potential high-growth entrepreneurs is helping to catalyze and support the networks and ecosystems that will enable their success.

Tayo Akinyemi, Director of AfriLabs and also a participant in the Startup Camp, has a similar goal.  Her organization connects the growing number of business innovation hubs across Africa – 23 hubs in 15 countries so far. 

“The reason why we’re building this network is to create an infrastructure that supports tech entrepreneurship,” she says.  “If we invest in building these spaces across the continent, then it will create an enabling environment for enterprises to proliferate and grow.”

Connecting and scaling these networks is important to providing the support entrepreneurs need to succeed.  As the networks become more robust, new and larger partners become interested in and able to provide additional resources to the entrepreneurs associated with them.

“Networks are powerful because they present you with opportunities that perhaps you didn’t know existed or may not have pursued,” says Suzana Moreira, Founder of moWoza.  “The value and quality of your networks is the growth engine of your business,” adds Alloysius Attah, Co-founder of Farmerline.

To learn more about Suzana, Alloysius and all the other entrepreneurs participating in the Mobile Startup Camp, visit the Camp’s website.  If you are an investor interested in seeing the startups during Demo Day on November 15, send us an email.


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