Geeks on a Airplane Africa kicks off as 500 Startups eyes tech for the continent and past


500 Startups’ frontier and rising markets journey sequence ― Geeks on a Airplane ― kicks off its first Africa tour this week. The 12-day journey will make stops in Nigeria (Lagos), Ghana (Accra) and South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape City).

“We’ve done about 10 investments in sub-Saharan Africa,” stated 500 Startups’ founding accomplice Dave McClure ― equivalent to Nigerian HR platform TalentBase and South Africa’s SweepSouth ― originated as candidates by means of 500’s seed program. “We’re not announcing a new fund at the current time, but are planning on doing more investment in Africa. Whether that’s 5, 10, or 20 startups a year, we’ll have to see.”

McClure, who kicked off the Geeks journey Monday in Lagos, didn’t rule out a devoted Africa micro-fund, noting a call may very well be made inside the subsequent 12-24 months.

“Part of the exercise is trying to figure out what geographies we’d be investing in… the legal structures, other investors, and understanding, not just the companies, but what the overall ecosystem looks like and how we’d fit in to that,” he stated.

The present Geeks Africa tour agenda seems tailor-made to these goals. The journey’s companions and contributors quantity many, equivalent to regional host USAID, Microsoft and the MEST incubator. The Lagos portion kicked off with a panel briefing on Nigeria’s startup ecosystem at IBM Labs led by TechCabal’s Bankole Oluwafemi. 500 Startups joined Seedstars Lagos for a startup pitch battle with native ventures judged by McClure, Seedstars nation supervisor Tunde Akinnuwa and Omidyar Networks funding head, Scott Wu.

The Ghana leg touches down for the Enterprise Africa Summit on entrepreneurship and innovation in Accra. The Geeks South Africa section contains conferences with VC funds and Accelerators, equivalent to 10XE and Edge Development.

This primary Geeks Africa trek follows an uptick in world funding and Silicon Valley consideration towards the continent during the last year-plus. Pan-African e-commerce startup Jumia grew to become the continent’s first unicorn in 2016 when it surpassed $1 billion in market worth in a $326 million Goldman-backed funding spherical.

Notable tech names Netflix, eBay, Uber and IBM expanded on the continent final 12 months. Y Combinator visited Lagos in 2016 and accepted a number of African startups into its program. And Fb’s Mark Zuckerberg put a highlight on the continent’s tech scene along with his tour of hubs and startups in Nigeria and Kenya final September.

500 Startups’ McClure stated the seed fund will “look to target straightforward business models” in its future Africa investments, “with a heavy emphasis on consumer-focused commerce…B2B productivity tools, SaaS, fintech, education, healthcare, real-estate, and jobs and recruiting.”

Throughout and after the Geeks Africa journey, McClure additionally famous 500 Startups’ concentrate on ventures that may scale on and off the continent. “We’re definitely interested in local market opportunities in places measured at 50-100 million people or more ― Nigeria, South Africa, East Africa overall. But we’ve also seen people going after global markets from Africa. That’s something we are on the lookout for. Smart people are everywhere,” he stated.

Featured Picture: Allan Baxter/The Picture Financial institution/Getty Photos


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Désiré LeSage


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