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Five Major Players Helping The African Startup Ecosystem

Five Major Players Helping The African Startup Ecosystem

If you’re interested in the African startup ecosystem, there are five major players you need to know about, says Darnley Howard.

Howard is president of Advansa International, an Arlington, MA-based consulting firm that helps companies and entrepreneurs doing business in Africa and other emerging markets.

Howard’s list appeared in a Boston Glob blog at Boston.com. Included are The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST); Venture Capital for Africa (VC4Africa); iHub Nairobi; African Venture Capital Association (AVCA); and Angel Fair.

1. MEST

“The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and the MEST Incubator provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring Ghanaian software entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa.”

An arm of the non-profit Meltwater Foundation, MEST runs a two-year training program in which budding entrepreneurs learn from experienced executives, MBA students and fellow entrepreneurs about how to monetize their innovative concepts. The incubator provides seed capital, guidance and support to graduates of the training program.

MEST is one way to tap into the community of African tech entrepreneurs, Howard said.

2. VC4Africa

Venture Capital for Africa is a matchmaking platform that connects investors with African entrepreneurs. It also helps entrepreneurs find mentors and other resources. VC4Africa members host occasional meetups and networking events worldwide. The last one in Boston was about two years ago.

3. iHub Nairobi


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Nairobi’s Innovation Hub for the technology community is an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers.

iHub sees its purpose as building an ecosystem to support the growth of Kenyan technology entrepreneurs. It says it has more than 12,600 individuals and 152 companies as members.

4. African Venture Capital Association (AVCA)

The AVCA is a member supported organization to promote private equity and venture capital in Africa. Members include institutional investors, private equity and venture capital fund managers from 62 countries.

Their activities support investments of all sizes and stages of business growth. AVCA’s research and events provide a way for U.S. investors to learn more about the startup ecosystem and the broader African private sector landscape.

5. Angel Fair

More an event than a organization, Angel Fair is the brainchild of Ghanaian entrepreneur Eric Osiakwan, Scottish entrepreneur Jamie Clyde, and Artlogic, an events company that produces high end boutique fairs supporting the arts in Southern Africa, according to Boston.com.

The first Angel Fair took was held in September in Johannesburg. It is part of a larger
conversation that included a gathering at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, where investors, entrepreneurs and academics discussed how to make angel investing work in Africa.