MEST's Director of Investor Relations talks entrepreneurship, connectivity and funding…
We’ve heard time and again how investors in Africa are scared off the continent by negative stories they see and read in international media.
But bad press doesn’t only deter investors. It perpetuates a general idea that Africa is not a continent for anyone to visit – including its diaspora – and definitely not a place to be doing business!
Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Gradually, it seems more people are waking up to realise this and can see beyond the headlines. The internet and social media has also made it easier to portray a more balanced view of Africa’s landscape, and citizens of the continent can themselves put a quick end to any misinformation being spread about their countries by mainstream media channels (see Ghana Vs CNN for a recent example).
Moving past that, there are of course those with Africa business interests who are undeterred by propaganda; but new investors still find it a struggle to know where, who or what to invest in, particularly if their curiosities lie within fast-rising, diversified sectors such as FMCG, agriculture, service industries, fintech etc. And if they do know what they’re looking for, how do they find those businesses? Maybe (but rarely) via specialist media. Or perhaps through a mutual contact. Either way, it’s all a bit of a needle in a haystack scenario.
Over the past two years we’ve spent time with a range of global investors as well as ‘ready-to-scale’ small/medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly in Ghana, who in essence are trying to find each other.
Meanwhile, Africa has a young population and a growing labor force. By 2034, the continent is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion. SMEs are key drivers of Africa’s economy, therefore it’s imperative they do well and have the capacity to grow in to larger companies. By default, sustainable businesses can also mean opportunities for skills development and those seeking employment.
But a common struggle for SMEs in Africa is raising finance, particularly for those placed in the so-called missing middle.
It seems this is a gap slowly being addressed and to foster the process effectively, communication; knowledge sharing; platforms to facilitate honest discussion; opportunities to interact, and network building among all stakeholders involved will be key. And as the ecosystem evolves, so will we at AB2020.
Following 2016’s Resolution, our aim for 2017 is to continue doing positive PR for Africa’s business and investment landscape – both online and offline – through digital media, events and market entry missions.
Subsequently, we’ll leverage our platforms to encourage relationships between investors and startups/SMEs; build an even bigger team of partners on the continent; and raise the profile of the success stories and unsung ‘superstars’ on the scene.
As creator of AB2020, my purpose is simple: do Positive PR for Africa, and make connections between people already operating and those interested in doing business on the continent. Help all involved to succeed in their endeavours, and thus set a fruitful stage for the next generation.
Hopefully that includes you.
Happy New Year!
Akosua Annobil, Founder
Next Post: AB2020’s End of Year Roundup