Seasons Greetings and 2014 Insights

by: Samuel Suraphel on

Photo by: Thomas Quine on Flickr Happy holidays and festive season to all! 

As this year comes to a close, here are a few of our insights from 2014, related to African tech entrepreneurship:

1.    Startups are popping up everywhere: Despite financial, technical and other challenges faced by startups in emerging markets, this has not deterred entrepreneurs from pushing forward and launching innovative companies.

The number of new ventures that are launching is amazing.  If you follow any of the tech blogs, such as TechMoran, your inbox is probably full of posts detailing a new company/product/service.  Though this is great news, the challenge persists in plugging these ventures into project and investment flows, as well as access to skills support.  A few of our engagements have zoomed in on key areas such as pitching, to better our clients’ ability to sell their product/service stories succinctly to audiences ranging from investors to customers.   We’ve additionally been able to connect clients to guidance around UX design and EdTech strategy.

With over 100 incubators/co-working spaces now on the African continent, international organizations like tipHub, She Leads Africa, Mara Foundation, VC4Africa, and ourselves, the ecosystems for support are emerging and undergoing their own growth and learning phase.  We look forward to playing our part in continuing to strengthen and increase the growth of successful companies.

2.    The DC African Diaspora Tech Ecosystem is buzzing:
This year saw many events that connected the dots in the emerging tech ecosystem in the Washington, D.C., region for African Diaspora entrepreneurs.  A few included: DC Tech Afrique, AfricanDevJobs, #DCHackEbola, Technoir 1 & 2, the Coders4Africa conference, the Ron H. Brown African Affairs Series, and Diaspora Demo Day.   

At tipHub's Diaspora Demo Day alone, there were over 20 Africa related startups, with folks flying in from the continent and throughout the US.   The year saw tons more networking happy hours and side-events, too many to count.  Outside the region, special note goes to the Design Africa conference held in April at The New School(New York City), which was one of the best applied and multidisciplinary conferences to take place, that merged technology, policy, design and other fields.  

3.    Business to Business, the elephant in the room:  Many of the financially successful African tech businesses are not written about on the popular press nor have the shiny “startup” swag afforded newer firms.  Nevertheless, business-to-business(B2B) tech companies providing solutions to financial institutions, manufacturing companies and beyond are big winners in the African technology scene, next to the MNO’s.    We recently wrote a blog post for Grofin on the upcoming impact of cloud and mobile technology, and expect this area to heat up even further in 2015.

4.    Ebola, Emergency management, and Tech Response to Crisis:   Last but not least, the current Ebola crisis in West Africa has brought public health and crisis management back to the forefront of our attention.  Though most of the global press coverage has simmered on reporting about Ebola, the crisis persists in the region and is growing in Sierra Leone.  

Through sites such as EbolaDeeply and social media, one is able to gain a broader view of the situation.  On our end, participating in the Africa Emergency Technology Response Forum(AETRF) has highlighted the efforts of technology organizations from the region in building the necessary ICT tools needed to handle emergency awareness and response.

With the launch of #AfricaAgainstEbola by the African Union and a host of telecoms, early 2015 should further highlight how collaborative tech partnerships can be used to help support emergency efforts such as the current situation in West Africa.  

Given the enormity of the challenge, we hope to see even more innovative services and inclusive partnerships develop to help in everything from awareness raising to education and logistics, particularly with a focus on aiding local entrepreneurs as they manage current needs and prepare for post-Ebola recovery.

So, thanks to the clients, staff, partners, interns and tech community that made 2014 possible!

For further insights, feel free to contact us and we’ll get back in touch.  For startups, SMEs and social enterprises or those interested in working with them through our virtual advisory service, feel free to submit your information at the following link.  

Look out for more services, activities and news from us in 2015.  

PS: Check out Mansa Colabs in the media at Impact Africa and on the Helen Show(Part 1 and Part 2)



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