It’s time to fix the startup funding landscape in Kenya
Thomas Sankara
986

Unfortunately most of this is wrong and intemperate. My team has raised a lot of money, over many years, from investors in both East and West Africa and from US and European investors. As the Village Capital report noted, the key is to build trust and relationships with the investors. Part of that involves maintaining the highest standards of governance and integrity. The standards are global, not Western versus African.

Local investors are often super aggressive on valuations, and exploit local founders. You get better terms from international and professional investors.

To talk about “uproar from local founders about mistreatment” is very misleading. There is a shortage of capital for African startups, but international interest grows every year. Instead of poking fingers in the eyes of international investors, work on building the trust and relationships. It is a multi year process.

Who can judge about capital misallocation? Many of the investors have seen thousands of businesses across dozens of countries and have quite sophisticated models. Are you really sure that you know better? Is it their fault if you can’t persuade them to invest? Maybe spend more time on the trust and relationship building.

Don’t knock the expats. Of course not all are perfect or committed for the long term, but many are and many bring world class experience and create interesting companies. They have been responsible for bringing in many of the international investors, and educating those investors about the potential in Africa.

All founders lack experience, whether local or international. You don’t learn about governance and investor relations while working in corporate. Fund raising is a gruelling process until you have established those deep relationships.

It is sad to see you play the race card. Show that you can maintain the highest standards of governance consistently and you will find open doors.

“Nepotism, racial bias, misplaced pattern matching”: investors have no interest in any of these. They are full time professions trying to be data driven on maximising their returns.