1. How has AfricArena disrupted the tech startup space on the African continent?
AfricArena (AA) positions itself as the "African tech ecosystem accelerator." This mission means we bring together all the key players that make up a technology ecosystem. Such include startups, well-established corporations, investors and VCs, public sector, incubators and hubs, and general civil society. No other organisation or platform has been able to consolidate all the key players of a tech ecosystem in an African context like AfricArena has done. Furthermore, startups have benefited the most through this ecosystem consolidation spearheaded by AA. Thus far, over $2 million worth of deals has been made via AA. That number will exponentially rise as AA gains traction and attracts more investors and corporations into Africa.
2. What success has come from the opportunities the platform has provided for startups and how is this success measured?
The success of startups that AA showcases come in varying forms. An obvious metric is the US dollar amount of investment a startup receives ($2 million). However, funding isn't always an absolute science in terms of measuring startup success. Other ways include working alongside a major corporation (e.g. startups that have won innovation challenges created by our corporate sponsors); a great deal of publicity and media spotlight for the startup; and participating on bigger global platforms, where more opportunities lie.
3. What are the benefits of established organisations partnering with startups in Africa?
There is truth in saying "to be the best you must learn from the best." Startups can learn a lot from working alongside well-established organisations, just as a student would learn from their professor. From the startup point of view, the benefits could include financial security, and learning to have a disciplined management structure and maintaining a sustainable business model, etc. From the point of view of an organisation taking a startup under its wing, a major benefit is the chance for the organisation is to harness fresh ideas and talent that startups tend to possess. Big organisations have procedures and can be cautionary at times, whereas startups are free to experiment. An example of such a collaboration is Cape Town based startup, Sea Monster, with AirFrance KLM. Sea Monster and AirFrance KLM are partnering to improve the travel experience through interactive entertainment. The two businesses united through the AfricArena Tour 2018.
4. Why do you believe Africa is such a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs to launch businesses from?
Much is said about Africa being "the future". AfricArena believes that the future is happening now. Many people are unaware of such innovations coming out of the continent because these startups are not receiving funding and publicity. Africa is fertile ground for businesses that will transform global society. This is because, during the AA Tour, we come across entrepreneurs from all walks of life starting solutions-driven businesses that are dealing with pertinent issues. Africa has many challenges and it is through these challenges that opportunities lie.
For example, counterfeit drugs are a major issue in Africa (and globally). AA gave the spotlight to a startup (RxAll) that was breaking ground in proving a solution. Their sophisticated technology allows people to authenticate pharmaceutical drugs in real-time. The AA platform brought them to a bigger platform (i.e. Hello Tomorrow), which has, in turn, resulted in partnerships with major organisations and a lot of publicity. All in all, there are many other startups like RxAll in Africa, and African entrepreneurs should continue to look for sustainable ways to improve the continent (and the world).