Still Early Days
It is still early days for angel investing in Africa. Capital deployed is marginal (eg Europe reports €9.8 Billion invested by business angels in 2016; USA > $24 Billion in 2015), and the number of deals closed every month is in the 'tens' and not in the hundreds or thousands. At the same time, we can only get excited when we see how the number of angel groups, investor networks and initiatives has grown from a handful (when we started two years ago) to over 50 today. Now, most of these networks have not made investments yet, and some probably never will, but the point here is that angel investing - deploying mentor capital to help entrepreneurs start and grow their companies - has become part of our everyday vocabulary. And we are just getting started.
Promoting a Culture of Angel Investing
Promoting a culture of angel investing is central to our vision. Every strong and stable economy requires a vibrant private sector; and entrepreneurship is a critical component in private sector growth. Yet, in most African countries - it remains incredibly difficult for entrepreneurs to attract any financial or vocational support. In promoting a culture of angel investing across Africa, we strive to see more smart capital being deployed in ways that will help African entrepreneurs drive private sector growth across the continent - and we strive to see more local African investors, and investors in the diaspora, support the next generation of African leaders. Africans investing in Africa.
Beating the African Drum
Promoting a culture of angel investing means engaging with key stakeholders - both on the continent and abroad. The ABAN team is on a continuous mission to speak about what entrepreneurship and early stage investing means in an African context and why we invest in African entrepreneurs.
In recent weeks, ABAN President Tomi Davies has spoken at the EBAN Annual Congress in Malaga, the ATBN tech event in London as well as at a closed-door conference in Amsterdam with the World Bank and others. Our roving ambassador Rebecca Enonchong has spoken at Afrobytes (Paris), The Next Web (Amsterdam), VivaTech (Paris), and the Africa Price for Engineering Conference (Nairobi) about technology and entrepreneurship. Chris Campbell and his team at SABAN hosted two 'Women in Angel Investing' workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Stephen Gugu and his Kenyan angel network ‘Viktoria’ celebrated it’s first investment (congrats!). The Lagos Angels Network is gearing up for their 2nd quarterly deal day for this year, as Cairo Angels completed their 20th investment (read all about here). ABAN co founder and VC4Africa CEO, Ben White was back in Uganda this month, and is currently working hard on preparations for XL Africa - the World Bank program looking at 'creating a Series A market in Africa'. Good things are happening.
We are incredibly excited about the current state of affairs and we should applaud the pioneering investors that are leading the way. That being said, it is way too early to declare any kind of victory. Every promising African entrepreneur deserves a fighting chance to start and grow his or her company - and deserves a committed business angel to open doors, share wisdom and provide funding. The time to invest in Africa is now.
The article was originally published in the ABAN newsletter.