The lack of access to venture capital in Africa stalls the hopes and dreams of Africa’s rising tech stars. There are great developers and software entrepreneur hopefuls who work on projects in Garages and in their spare times in the hope that it will be launched to the public some time soon. The likes of Yuri Milner, Paul Graham and Brad Feld are difficult to find.
In a recent Google Ghana conference in Accra Ghana I attended, I could not help but notice the great potential Africa has but lacks the environment, mentors, investors and resources to nurture the talent. I am looking forward to Garage48 soon to hit Accra Ghana in two weeks time.
African entrepreneurs put together business plans and have the commercial know-how required to transform a concept or idea into a world-class business but the required mentors, investors and resources to take that idea to the next level becomes a stumbling block. Getting around it demands passion and commitment, but even with that entrepreneurs find it difficult. It is extremely difficult to survive as a bootstrapper but some entrepreneurs are taking their chances.
African technology entrepreneurs like John Waibochi of VirtualCity, Eyram Tawia and Wesley Kirinya of Leti Games, Ory Okolloh of Ushahidi have made their marks on the continent and they continue to inspire a lot of web and technology hopefuls.
Africa continues to see massive growth in the use of mobile technology and entrepreneurs are aware of these opportunities but how do you move from step one(the idea face) to a real business with a global focus.
Mobile payment continues to hunt a lot of consumers in Africa. Paypal is limited in functionality in Africa. This has become very frustrating for a lot of who are web entrepreneurs but i still wonder why we still do not have our own payment platform that can serve the 900 million people on the continent.
Investor firms like Sequoia Capital , Benchmark Capital, Accel Partners, Andreessen-Horowitz, Greylock Partners, General Catalyst, Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners have supported hundreds of startups and great companies we witness and use today. Africa is yet to witness investor interest in web and mobile applications. There are capable entrepreneurs who can support the software entrepreneurs but we just don’t see it happen.
Other Incubators such as Nigeria’s Social Innovation Camp and the Institute for Venture Design have recently sprung up perhaps in recognition of this need. In addition Kenya’s the iHub also work towards providing an incubator environment for technology enthusiasts.
Africa needs more of these initiatives that can encourage software entrepreneurs to build locally while thinking globally. Web and mobile products and services contribute so much to the US economy and Europe is catching up fast. The rest of the world has started benefiting from web and mobile apps but Africa is too slow and I am afraid for my continent.
As noted by Nmachi Jidenma of there is the need to develop initiatives that are solely focused on ensuring that technopreneurs are well versed in the technical skills and deep knowledge of technology that they require to compete globally. This will ensure that they stand out when incubators equip them with capital and international exposure.
Mfonobong Nsehe notes on forbes that Africa May Never Produce a Facebook, Groupon, Zynga or Google.
So the question that needs to be answered is: Can Africa produce a Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Zynga or Google and when is that happening. What’s your take on this?
Image courtesy The WhiteAfrican