Francis Ngwa Niba in London, Uk
Some 20 people, some with a lot of business ideas and some already budding entrepreneurs from Africa met a handful of investors in a small posh bar in The City of London last Wednesday March 27th. They came from very different backgrounds but they all had one thing in common; a passion for Africa and how to develop the continent through meaningly investment ideas and money.
Africa has it all, in and out of the continent but somehow, crossing the “t’s” and doting the “i’s” is still a problem. The “X’s” are still missing.
I am talking about ideas on how to improve the state of affairs across the continent. We have people with all types of brilliant ideas about business, leisure, manufacturing, ditribution and the service industry in and out of the continent
What is lacking now is our very own Silicon Valley in the USA or our own The City as in London. Those with these brilliant ideas from Africa need to connect with the money boys, investors or venture capitalists. Investors need to start believing Africa too has dreamers with great ideas and they need to start investing in those ideas so they can come to fruition.
That is why Venture Capital for Africa (VC4Africa) the largest online grouping of African entrepreneurs and businesses organized the March 27 meet in The City, London. Since 2008, VC4Africa has been doing its best to bring together the brains, the ideas and the money together to network and make deals.
And guess what, the organizers were not even there! I learnt most of them live out of the UK which is why they could only send a young bright girl to do the networking for them. I expected a formal occasion with speeches, but that was not the case. The young girl glided between invitees and just kept repeating “Sir, meet Mr….he is so and so…Haven’t you heard about him?” I watched her doing her intros and marvelled.
She did her job brilliantly. However, I thought something was lacking. Whatever excuses they might have, one of the organizers should have been there because we are talking about millions of dollars here.
Well, not surprisingly, the people with all the ideas and businesses, some that were already operational and some still on the drawing board , were all young and from Africa. There was Chidi Nwaonu, the young Nigerian with plans to trade and invests in Africa, Boakye Acheampong, the Ghanian Events organizer, Efua Edusei, designers, Joelle Eyeson and Darlington Orji, Juliet Segayi the Business consultant, Fahad Yousuf the Somalia student organizer and a host of others.
Some of the investors included Hugh Miller of the Quant International property Group (they are interested in investing in building plush hotels across Africa, Christopehr George from NUVISION Abroad who also fronts a group of investors looking to invest in Africa and Daniel Mark , a partner with Crown Mark company, a UK based wholesale company looking out for business oppportunities in Africa.
Some of the investors were looking to invest big money in Africa; “I am looking on investing anything from one hundred million dollars” one of them told me. “Sierra Leone needs a good hotel in Freetown. We will want to build one there because many expatriates travel there and there aren’t enough quality hotels there” another added.
These are venture or risky capitalist, they want to invest in risky situations and want their money back with a sizeable profit, Africa gets the investments it badly needs, everyone benefits.
According to it’s website, “ VC4Africa started as a LinkedIn group in the spring of 2008 and has grown organically into what is now the largest online community dedicated to entrepreneurs and investors building companies on the continent. The VC4Africa community has always been free for anyone to joinand the entire network and its content remain open and accessible. VC4Africa can be found on VC4Africa.biz, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
A core vision behind the project is that VC$Africa is only a platform within a larger social movement. Open communication and collaboration is encouraged
And all members are invited to become active participants in both growing and developing the project”
Bill Zimmerman. A successful tech entrepreneur and Ben White a serial entrepreneur are the founding members