Though there have been countless attempts to help Africa with economic development through foreign aid and other government programs, entrepreneurship may be one of the most promising solutions. Yet a fundamental problem exists: it is tough for African startups to catch the eye of investors, and investors often don’t understand African markets well enough to give valuable advice.
A new organization called Ingressive is looking to change that, especially as investment in Africa begins to accelerate.
Maya Horgan-Famodu founded Ingressive in an effort to connect investors with African entrepreneurs.
“It’s really hard for people to enter the market who don’t have previous experience, but the time has come where people are looking toward Africa for new investment and new opportunities,” she told Opportunity Lives.
Horgan-Famodu’s father is Nigerian, which gives her a direct perspective on what business in Africa looks like. She also has an impressive background in private equity and entrepreneurship journalism that gave her the business knowledge to be able to make a difference. Using her skills, she has been able to apply her passion to improve African investment directly.
Ingressive already represents several groundbreaking startups and hosts a proprietary algorithm to streamline the investment process. The company also sponsors a “Tour of Tech” trip to several African countries to facilitate in-person meetings between investors and entrepreneurs. Last year, 150 investors from around the world participated.
This summer’s Tour of Tech trip will take attendees to hubs of entrepreneurship in Lagos, Nigeria, Nairobi, Kenya and Zanzibar, Tanzania. The introductions, presentations, and discussions solidify future relationships and give investors a better understanding of the entrepreneurship culture in Africa.
Since startups in Lagos or Nairobi often face very different obstacles and cost structures than their counterparts in Silicon Valley or New York City, observing these environments firsthand and speaking with entrepreneurs is vitally important for investors to create a successful partnership.
The tours also allow investors to develop a set of contacts in Africa to pursue additional investment opportunities. Ingressive targets venture capitalists looking to get into the growing African market but don’t have any experience there.
“At the end of the day, you really can’t understand the capacity and the opportunities that exist unless you’re there,” Horgan-Famodu said.
Ingressive aims to be profitable, but value-driven. “By and large, we have the betterment of the continent in mind when creating our solutions,” she said.
Africa deserves more than empty promises. Ingressive’s innovative methods could be the catalyst to a revitalized African startup economy. Linking African startups with much-needed investment is a crucial step to transforming the continent’s future.