Break-out Panel Discussion

Entrepreneurship Panel:
“Made in Africa” Entrepreneurs: Why, When and How to Build and Invest in an African Start-up


Ballroom 1 22 April 2017 14:15 - 15:35

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Adnane Addioui
Tracey Austin
Andrew Hunt
Alex Thomson-Payan
Adebola Williams
Rob Withagen

Panel Theme:
“Made in Africa” Entrepreneurs:
Why, When and How to Build and Invest in an African Start-up?

Panel Description:

“Entrepreneurs love problems [and] solving them through innovative business models and the application of new ideas and technologies. Never has the advancements of new technology been more pertinent in solving social issues than in Africa”
– (African Business Review, 2017)

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (“GEM”) reported that, although Africa ranks highest for the number of entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, it ranks lowest for innovation-tense fields and that more than half of all start-ups are involved in the wholesale/retail sector. However, Africa’s entrepreneurial reputation is rapidly being redefined as the continent is currently flourishing with impressive start-up stories relating not only to the agriculture and manufacturing sectors but also to media, FinTech, solar power, mobile money and even drones.

According to GEM, Africa has the most positive attitude towards entrepreneurship as well as the highest level of entrepreneurial intention when compared to other regions. GEM estimates that nearly 25% of all working-age adults in Africa are part of a start-up business, and highlighted that Africa ranks joint-first with the Latin America and the Caribbean region for the highest level of youth entrepreneurship and second for the average percentage of female start-up entrepreneurs in the world (after Latin America and the Caribbean).

These statistics, together with the wave of African start-ups that are attracting global attention, provide strong support for the notion that entrepreneurialism will be one of the most prominent promotors of the “Made in Africa” ideal though the creation of “Made in Africa” products and solutions.

This panel will discuss this viewpoint considering the question as to “why” you should build/invest in an African start-up, as well as explore “when”, “how” and other key issues related to promoting entrepreneurial endeavours.

Guiding Questions:

  1. In what ways is “now” an optimal time to build an African start-up? How are aspiring African entrepreneurs today better positioned than those before them?
  2. What are the key drivers behind the increasingly high number of African entrepreneurs? What are the popular reasons for creating an African start-up, how are teams typically formed and where does the initial funding normally come from?
  3. What are the main challenges faced by African start-ups and what are some examples of memorable highs and lows faced by the founders? What are the top tips that can be passed on to aspiring entrepreneurs with an Africa-focused business idea?
  4. What are some of the most noteworthy African start-ups attracting global recognition? Why are they special?
  5. How do African entrepreneurs leverage technology/social media to promote their start-ups? What other ways can you promote your start-up? Why are partnerships important? What are some examples of successful collaborations?
  6. What are the most common type of financiers in African start-ups and how do they compare from an owner perspective? What are the key factors founders should consider in selecting and accepting an investment proposal and at what stage should an entrepreneur accept funding?
  7. Most impact investing funds focused on Africa are at a start-up stage. What are the key characteristics in start-ups these funds are looking for in selecting a first investment? What sectors and countries are attractive to impact investors?

Panels Overview:

Technology Panel:
Africa and the next wave of digitization

Finance Panel:
Financing African Businesses –
Successes, Challenges and The Way Forward

Energy & Infrastructure Panel:
Resource-full but not yet power-full

Creative Industry Panel:
Maximising Africa’s creative economy

Innovation Panel:
Changing the game: Sustainable solutions fuelling the next phase of Africa’s economic development

Entrepreneurship Panel:
“Made in Africa” Entrepreneurs:
Why, When and How to Build and Invest in an African Start-up?

African Opportunities Panel:
Navigating African career and entrepreneurial opportunities