Ian Lessem, managing partner at HAVAÍC, has discussed a significant increase in investment demand for African technology start-ups
He said that startups on the continent are at a distinct advantage because they compete out of necessity. As a result, they can, and very often do stand toe to toe with startups in more of the established tech hubs of Palo Alto, Singapore, London and Tel Aviv.
“African innovators face local challenges so pervasive; they simply have no choice but to tackle them head on and become subject matter experts in finding solutions for real world problems, like food security, health, education, safety, financial services and logistics.”
Lessem added that African technology driven solutions borne out of necessity create efficiencies, new products and opportunities, and most importantly solve local challenges that resonate globally. Because of this they have the inherent ability to leap across national boundaries and sidestep the usual rules of cultural friction.
“With the world having quickly adjusted to the realities of the ongoing global social and economic crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, solutions that solve real world challenges are without a doubt the best opportunities for growth. People and businesses are craving solutions that make their day to day lives easier, better and less frictional, and the pace at which they are adopting technology to do this continues to accelerate.
“While it seems unlikely that the greatest contributions to and innovations in biotech or space travel will emerge from Africa, African founders are paving the way when it comes to creating commercial and innovative solutions to local challenges that also have global relevance. And, crucially, when coupled with technology they can scale quickly on home ground and abroad,” said Lessem.
With African businesses continuing to punch well above their weight, proving their ‘right to play’ and their potential to scale domestically and internationally, Lessem said it is an exciting time to be part of the African VC environment. “The attitude of supporting local while acting global also has the positive consequence of developing the early-stage ecosystem overall. By attracting foreign capital international partners, local entrepreneurs and their communities thrive, which is critical for Africa’s economic growth. With all this in mind, it is clear that the next startup wave is set to come from Africa.”