It’s About Time We Considered Angel Investing!

The recently concluded EAVCA’s (East Africa Private & Venture Capital Association) conference was attended by global limited partners, local institutional investors, regulators and private equity investors to discuss and debate the opportunities driving the growth of investments in East Africa.

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Keynote speakers and panelists addressed the region’s deal landscape and examined the growth of Private Equity in the region over the past decade.

The convening also hosted conversations on the state of early stage investing and the venture capital industry with a focus on trends, highlights and challenges unique to the ecosystem.

The fact that players at VC/ PE level are cognizant of that funding gap should indicate that the discussion around angel investing is more than timely. Over the last few years, there have been relevant developments that have set the stage to engage in a more meaningful dialogue.

An article from Business Daily highlighted Nairobi as being among the top investment destinations in Africa and is set to record a sustained growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) in coming years. However, most of this capital will flow into larger, more mature enterprises and with an increasing focus on manufacturing and knowledge-based industries.

A report by Village Capital, on the state of early stage funding revealed that more than 90% of funding for East African startups went to expat founders and not because there was a shortage of start-ups with a Kenyan or East African founder.

The issue has to do more with preconceived biases than with systemic problems. A study released Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) alluded to another reason. The researchers found that cultural bias might be driving the perception of lower entrepreneurial skills, and that investors claimed emerging market entrepreneurs lacked experience, despite evidence to the contrary.

It’s no secret: investors use patterns as a proxy for potential.

These concerns should be a call to action to local business angels to rally around local start-ups and offer the much needed support to enable a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. In more developed ecosystems, there’s evidence that angel-funded startup companies have historically been less likely to fail than companies that rely on other forms of initial financing, according to a Harvard report by William R. Kerr, Josh Lerner, and Antoinette Schoar.

Investment in startup businesses has been recognized as an important resource for economic growth and, therefore, economic development and angel investors provide significant value to the overall economy by fueling entrepreneurial activity.

In Africa, the pace has already been set by organizations like ABAN, VC4A, Village Capital and other institutions with similar objectives. In East Africa, the new Tech Frontier, we cannot allow to be left behind it is about time we rolled up our sleeves and got into the “dog fight” so to speak.

Who’s with us!!!

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