Why African Diaspora are important for the African Startups Ecosystem

Early Stage Investment in Africa from a diaspora Perspective

PATRICK KAKUNZE, Actuary — Risk Management at KLP, PANGEA DIASPORA INVESTOR

This week we caught up with one the African diasporas in our Investor Program to hear about his new journey as an Angel Investor in the diaspora. Patrick is Burundian living in Norway. 16 years ago, he came to Norway as a refugee from Burundi. As a son of a mathematician and librarian mother and a chemist father, he has also pursued a career in similar field, by studying Insurance Mathematics and Actuarial science at The University of Oslo. He has spent the last 10 years working with life insurance, pension and risk management.

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Few weeks ago, I embarked on a new journey, by joining The Pangea Investor Program. The program is targeted at both experienced and inexperienced angel investors who are interested in investing in African startups. Through the program, I have joined a network of 30 other investors, where we are learning about early stage investment and the African investment and start-up ecosystems through six sessions of workshops.


Why I joined The Pangea Investor Program

The Africa rising narrative, which I think should be about Africa investing in Africa has been what attracted me to the Pangea Investor Program.

With just 10 000 NOK in investment and 2000 NOK for the investor program workshops, I have joined a network of investors to co-invest, while at the same time learning about early stage investment. So far, I have participated in three workshops, where I have learnt about the basics of early stage investment, start-up valuation, due diligence as well as the African ecosystems from speakers with unique experience from start-up investment in Africa. Most importantly, I have mentored a start-up, and learnt how to spot good investment opportunities.

As a Burundian living abroad, I see many political, economic and socio-cultural challenges in my country. Without going too much into details, Burundi, as many African countries has a high rate of unemployment among young people. However, with a young population who is well educated, Africa offers great investment opportunities for both Africans in the diaspora and international investors.

With 65% of the world´s uncultivated arable land, Africa can feed itself and the rest of the world. I see investment opportunities where modern technology can make agriculture efficient and create jobs and wealth. What is even interesting is that many African countries do not have to go through the same process of technology changes that the west has gone through. They can leapfrog through technology and entrepreneurship.

I have seen great initiatives of entrepreneurship in many for the countries I have visited over the years. I see young entrepreneurs providing solutions to local problems. However, I have realised that many of these entrepreneurs lack access to capital, network and comptence, which I believe is stopping the drive of entrepreneurship.

More importantly, there has been for many years, a lack of network that can train entrepreneurs and make them investment ready. I have always had a passion of contributing to the economic growth of the continent. However, I want to contribute with my competence, while at the same time creating impact. This is exactly why I joined The Pangea Investor Program.

Simply put, I want to be a part of the journey, because I believe my little contributions can be part of creating opportunities for African entrepreneurs, who are ultimately creating jobs on the continent.

What have been interesting about the program, are my interactions with African startups. Through the program, investors have access to startup cases from Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt. I have studied and learnt about many startups projects, which I think provide great opportunities for a beginner angel investor such as myself.

Another unique aspect of the program, is that it offers great opportunities to network with like-minded people who have the ambition of investing in Africa. I am now a part of a great network of investors. There are risk involve in all investment, especially early stage investment, but co-investing with other investors helps mitigating the risk.

It is without a doubt, that The Pangea Investor Program has put “word” and “cases” into all the media success stories I have heard about the African economic growth. Now, I know more than before that there are opportunities in all African sectors.

Mentoring African startups and learning about investment opportunities in different sectors

I have never thought that my competence, network and experience could be useful for an African start-up.

Through the Pangea Investor Program, I have mentored a Kenyan start-up, SaveKubwa, which is an online broker of insurance. I have learnt that there is little insurance penetration in Sub Sahara Africa, and here I think micro insurance combined with micro finance could play an interesting role.

The mentorship program does not only allow me to transfer my know-how and experience, but is has also given me great insights about the Kenyan insurance market. Learning about the market is also helping me to make an informed investment decision with the rest of the investors in the program.

My experience so far with the mentorship program, is that African in the Diaspora could play a critical role in helping African startups penetrate markets in Europe, United States and other countries as, many already understand the market situations in those countries.

Looking at the Pangea Investor Program from a diaspora perspective

As an African in the diaspora, I wish that African politicians could make remittance more effective, and use diaspora as a tool of socio economic development in order to create “real impact”.

I believe African diaspora could play a vital role in the Norwegian development and innovation policies towards Africa. However, waiting for governments to put policies into place will take time. Meanwhile, there are many young entrepreneurs without capital and many young graduate outside of the labour force.

I think most of us in the diaspora can agree that the governments cannot create jobs for all the the millions outside of the workforce. Job creation will mostly have to come from the private sector, especially early stage entrepreneurs. Diaspora to invest in Africa would do a lot to help create new jobs and support Africa’s development initiatives.

It is up to every diaspora to look at the opportunities on the continent, and contribute in their own capacities. What is obvious, is that my fellow Africans in the diaspora should consider other ways in creating impact on the continent, rather than the traditional way of “sending money back home”.

As a diaspora, I want to contribute to the economic growth of the continent. However, we can all agree that sending money back home does not necessarily help people get a job. And ultimately, what we really want is to stop sending money, because is not creating a long-term impact.

The Pangea Investor Program has opened another world for me as an African living in the diaspora.

I see potential in the Pangea Investor Program, and more importantly, I see great value in what I have learnt so far. It has been the missing link for how Africans in the diaspora can create impact through job creation.

Anyone interested in becoming part of the Africa success story, should join The Pangea Investor Program, because you will experience that the African economic growth is not just happening on news and media.

For those Africans in the diaspora who are only interested in investing in their countries of origin, I will say “There are many investment opportunities in Africa, and it is not sustainable to only seek opportunities in your countries of origin”. Your key driving force in terms of contributing to the African growth should be the market opportunities. By investing in Kenyan, Egyptian or Ghanaian startups, you are also indirectly contributing back home, as it gives the start-ups the chance to expand and cerate jobs in other African markets.

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About Pangea Investor Program

The Investment Program enlightens investors on investing in Africa and provides access to a larger community of investors. Investors gain first hand experience by direct interaction with startups in the accelerator. The investment program encourages interaction and cooperation between investors in evaluating startups and learning practical skills to making smart investments. The program comprises of 6 sessions that runs simultaneous to the accelerator program. At the end of the program money is awarded to one or more companies and angel investors become limited partners in a venture fund. Click here to learn more.

Are you African in the diaspora? Join our next batch of investor program. Contact dede@pangeaaccelerator.com for more information.

Written by Dede Koesah, based on a conversation with Patrick Kakunze