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One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs in Africa is access to funding. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have ideas for businesses, or already-running businesses that need help in any number of areas such as scaling or distribution, but can’t seem to find the right partner, or investor.
For West Africa, things are about to get better, as an event geared around the meeting of entrepreneurs, investors, potential partners, accelerators, incubators, and emerging businesses is having its inaugural gathering.
On the 30th to 31st March 2014, the first Angel Fair West Africa, to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, will invite around 100 entrepreneurs and investors from Africa and abroad to gather together with the aim of facilitating deals. The event is organised by the Angel Africa List in partnership with the Lagos Angel Network and the African Venture Capital Association.
At the event, a selection of entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses in front of the attendees, from there investors will be able to use those pitches to streamline who they wish to meet with during the fair. The afternoon’s agenda is structured so that attendees can explore investment, business development and other deals with the entrepreneurs and also hold investors and entrepreneurs’ panel sessions.
Angel Fair was launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was noted at the Africa Summit 2013 for its ability to connect investors with entrepreneurs. Lagos, with a 21-million strong population, is described by the investment group Spark (co-founded by Jason Njoku) as the gateway to Africa. It was chosen to host the inaugural Angel Fair West Africa because it is seen as a hub for many startups and boasts the success stories of companies like ecommerce players Jumia and Konga, and the inspiring Hotels.ng.
The event will be attended by representatives from not only Lagos, but also the Ghana Angel Investment Network and existing angel groups in Senegal and networks from within and outside the continent.
An Angel Fair with a pan-African focus is purported to be the idea of South African-based ArtLogic in partnership with angel investor and technology entrepreneur Eric Osiakwan, from Ghana, and South African corporate entrepreneur Jamie Clyde.
“Half of the 20 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa. Never before has the continent been so open for business,” says Eric Osiakwan. He notes that recent research from Omidyar Network in the form of its Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa report highlights the challenges for not only entrepreneurs, but also investors and partners, in finding each other to do deals. Perhaps events such as Angel Fair bridge that gap, creating a space where people can meet people, and ideas can flourish.