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AfricArena honours 5 start-ups at Dakar summit

Tidjane Deme, a Partech partner, kicked off AfricArena’s West Africa summit by sharing new data with investors, entrepreneurs and online viewers. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Tidjane Deme, a Partech partner, kicked off AfricArena’s West Africa summit by sharing new data with investors, entrepreneurs and online viewers. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

No less than five African start-ups now have a shot at participating in AfricArena’s most sought-after tech summit in November. The winners – mostly representing West African innovators – will come head-to-head with other start-ups seeking global investment.

Organisers of AfricArena’s recent summit in the Senegalese metropolis Dakar says more than 20 start-ups showcased their innovative ideas to the tech accelerator’s ecosystem of investors and incubators. It was attended by more than 250 high-level investors, 300 conferencegoers and 1 500 virtual viewers.

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In the end, it was the Ivory Coastbased fintech start-up Bizao who was announced as the most innovative start-up at the summit. Senegalese delivery start-up Yobante Express was the best emerging entrepreneur while Ghana’s Survey 54, a consumer intelligence platform, won best seed start-up. Crowdyvest, a Nigerian digital investment platform, won best series A start-up.

Raphael Dana, the co-founder of Gozem. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Gozem, a Togo-based transport technology platform, was announced best late-stage start-up and a South Africa-based venture development and investment company, Founders Factory, was considered the most attractive investor.

“It has been an amazing experience to pitch and exchange with all the best start-ups of the region,” said Raphael Dana, the co-founder of Gozem. “We are thrilled to win the award for best growth-stage start-up in West Africa, and look forward to coming back next year.”

AfricArena’s West Africa summit was presented in partnership with DER and the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA). The event’s supporters included the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).

“This was a special week for the investment in the region, especially in Senegal, where DER played a huge role in the ecosystem,” remarked Dr Mame Aby Sèye, who champions women and youth in entrepreneurship on behalf of the Senegalese government.

More than 20 start-ups showcased their innovative ideas to AfricArena’s ecosystem of investors and incubators. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Since its inception in 2017, the South Africa-based AfricArena has gained global recognition as a leading ecosystem accelerator and deal flow platform across Africa. Its platforms are said to support the creation of market access and investment opportunities for its ever-increasing community of founders, angels, corporates and VC investors.

The West Africa summit attracted an A-list of speakers, including Tidjane Deme, a Partech partner. Partech Africa is a well-known venture capital fund dedicated to African start-ups who use technology to tackle fundamental problems by creating large opportunities.

Mareme Dieng, the lead of innovation and strategy at 500 Startups, and Breega chief executive Ben Marrel counted among the celebrated panellists at AfricArena’s West Africa summit. Photos: Supplied/Ventureburn

Founders’ bootcamp by AfricArena

According to AfricArena the West Africa summit was preceded by a founders’ bootcamp, a one-day programme to fast-track more than 35 start-ups in key areas often overlooked by other incubation programmes.

At the bootcamp, founders were exposed to a curated selection of resources by the Digital Collective Africa. This collective of African investors, incubators, accelerators and founders supports early-stage start-ups. More than 60 investors present shared their expertise, including Ben Marrel from Breega while Startupbootcamp presented a pitch training session.

AfricArena also hosted its flagship venture capital, the annual VC Unconference, in Dakar. This, says organisers, takes place in a “very unconventional” weekend format.

Attending investors exchange ideas through spending time together, having fun, doing some work sessions and discussing the future of technology in Africa. The discussion pointed out a few key elements of change, including the gender imbalance in both the venture capital and tech founder spaces.

Meanwhile, the attention now shifts to Station F, the France-based business incubator located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. It is noted as the world’s largest start-up facility.

Powered by the French South African Tech Labs, African business and technology go-getters are invited to visit the innovative spaces at the heart of the European ecosystem’s dynamism by connection with local entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts.

“Prior to the Viva AfricArena event happening on 14 June 2022, the French South African Tech Labs offers an incredible opportunity to African-based corporates and investors willing to experience the booming start-up ecosystem across France and Europe,” says organisers in a media release.

“AfricArena will be turning the largest start-up incubator in the world, Station F, into the stage of African tech entrepreneurship. Over 40 start-ups – from seed to growth stages – will spend the day pitching to foreign markets and showcasing the best tech Africa has to offer.”

African start-ups who need access to foreign deal flow or wish to scale beyond the borders of the continent can apply to join the AfricArise scale package.

READ MORE: Futuregrowth bags one of SA’s largest seed funding rounds

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