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With support from the international community, DEMO Africa is helping local startups get into the global limelight. The annual event recently saw 40 tech startups showcase their businesses in Lagos, Nigeria.
DEMO Africa is one of the flagship initiatives of LIONS@FRICA, a project started by the US Department of State, Microsoft, DEMO, USAID and Startup Weekend.
The US State Department through the LIONS@FRICA partnership will this year sponsor five DEMO Africa startups for a 10-day trip to pitch at the DEMO US. The five who were picked from the forty that pitched on the DEMO Africa platform, include Jifunza (Rwanda), Nerve (Nigeria), Paysail (Ghana), Chura (Kenya) and SpacePointe (Nigeria).
In a video message to the participants at the conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the need to groom the continent’s young population to foster entrepreneurship. “You can count on the United States support as you take on this journey to transformation through entrepreneurship,” he said.
The interest around the business-technology scene In Africa is on the rise. Notable influencers including Baybars Altuntas, Vice President of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN), was present at the DEMO Africa forum representing the interest and views of over 20 000 angel investors across Europe. Baybars confirmed that indeed, the majority of EBAN members want to learn more about African startups and the ecosystem, this being their new source of investment pipeline. “To fully engage European angel investors we seek our counterparts across Africa. This is key for co-investing into opportunities on the ground. The European Business Angel Network could support an African Business Angel Network with incubation.”
VC4Africa’s CEO and Founder Ben White says that the event is a critical platform for discussions geared towards fast tracking prosperity and growth in Africa with entrepreneurship being cited as the key to Africa’s freedom and prosperity.
In line with this new found interest of the international community, White confirmed that VC4Africa will rally a delegation of angel investors from African countries to participate in the European Business Angel Network, which will be held in Helsinki, Finland in November. The Network, will see among other things, a roadmap developed for the way forward for Africa. “We see angel networks emerging across the continent. Now is the time to bring them together in a shared conversation about how best to move forward,” he says.
Microsoft, another key player, announced a new Collaboration Challenge with AfriLabs to increase knowledge sharing across the hub network in Africa and spur innovation. The challenge, officially launched at this year’s DEMO Africa event, is tasking hub members with proposing and delivering an activity, process or tool that fosters collaboration within the AfriLabs network.