A call for action to drive investment  in African innovation

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 June 2021:

Viva Technology, the Conseil Présidentiel pour L’Afrique (CPA) and Seedstars Africa Ventures have announced new public-private partnerships and private investments to support and promote African and diaspora entrepreneurship. These announcements are yet another illustration of the vibrant African entrepreneurship scene, and the rising attractiveness of Africa’s tech innovations and economic growth.

In a joint call, Vivatech, the CPA Coordinator Wilfrid Lauriano Do Rego and Seedstars Africa Ventures also called on major corporations and institutional investors to build on this momentum and join  their efforts to support Africa’s growing economies with new financing models.

Strong support by Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness and Cédric O, Minister of State for the Digital Sector.

Today’s announcements directly echo the New Deal for Africa signed May 31 by leading African and  Global Heads of State, which stated entrepreneurship as Africa’s main asset and called for “African  entrepreneurs’ [to] access financing by targeting their projects’ most crucial phases, particularly  startup.” said Charles Michel, President of the European Council.

Franck Riester said:  “We need to further encourage the development of entrepreneurship in Africa, which is one of the  keys to prepare the future for the continent’s youth. This is why we support the ecosystem with the  Pass Africa, proposed by the CPA and its partners. This new partnership with Seedstars Africa  Ventures is an important step in facilitating access to capital financing for today’s and tomorrow’s  entrepreneurs. And through its commitment to the continent, Vivatech contributes to accelerate  investment in African innovation, to serve growth.”

“The African tech industry is growing at a really fast pace in sectors such as financial services,  mobility, logistics or agritech. Though, stronger connexions between French and African  entrepreneurs and investors need to be created in order to build a long-term cooperation. This is  why I wanted to bring my support to this important initiative, which is in line with goals of the CPA  announced by the French President in 2017,” says Cédric O.

ANNOUNCEMENT 1: LAUNCH OF THE AFRICATECH AWARDS BY VIVATECHNOLOGY  

With the AfricaTech Awards ceremony scheduled to take place during the 2022 edition of  VivaTechnology in Paris and online, this pan-African initiative shines a spotlight on the startups and  founders making the strongest positive impact for African citizens and societies.

The goal: to identify and bring out the most promising startup solutions making a significant  contribution to African growth across key sectors: Agriculture, Health, Finance, Energy, Retail,  Education.

The AfricaTech Awards is more than a prize; it is a call to action – a 360º program taking place  throughout the year in the run-up to the next edition of Viva Technology. The Awards provide many  advantages such as speaking opportunities, visibility across media and among corporates and  VCs, business opportunities, and mentoring during the year. Viva Technology is very proud to  welcome the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as one of its main partners. In addition, the  AfricaTech Awards Entrepreneur Webseries will be launched to inspire and create more  opportunities. AfricaTech Awards Partners will be announced in Q4, including a leading international  organization, global media partners, corporates & VCs.

Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director: “African innovators are changing their countries one  start-up at a time and developing home grown solutions from fintech to edtech or healthtech. Yet  over 80% of African startups report difficulties in accessing funding. To help bridge that funding gap,  I am thrilled to join VivaTech today to announce IFC’s collaboration on the new Africa Tech Awards  that will identify and foster Africa’s most promising and innovative tech entrepreneurs so they can  receive financial support, mentoring opportunities and contacts with key investors.”

ANNOUNCEMENT 2: PASS AFRICA PARTNERS WITH SENEGAL AND IVORY COAST, AND WITH SEEDSTARS AFRICA VENTURES TO STRENGTHEN TIES WITH AFRICA’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP  ECOSYSTEMS 

Pass Africa is a unique and prioritized route created within Bpifrance to accelerate entrepreneurs operating between France and African countries, in terms of investment, financing, insurance,  guarantees and support for innovation. It’s also a mobilized and connected community, which  provides network, communication and partnership opportunities.

As part of today’s announcements, the CPA unveiled major partnerships with Ivorian and Senegalese counterparts to link the Pass Africa label to programs catered to entrepreneurs of the  diaspora in these countries. These agreements aim to create synergies and to make it easier for  Pass Africa laureates to carry out activities in partner countries. Other partnerships are under  discussion. Finally, Seedstars Africa Ventures and Pass Africa will partner to facilitate access to  capital for diaspora startups and provide them with African market support and international  networks.

Wilfrid Lauriano Do Rego, CPA’s Coordinator: “Pass Africa is not only a support program for startups,  it is a priority. It is the recognition of the priority we wish to give to the african diaspora in France, a  powerful catalyst for innovation and economic growth, both in France and Africa. We want Pass  Africa to be a new answer to the challenges of diaspora entrepreneurship. And we want to bring the  success stories of these entrepreneurs to the highest level.”

Maxime Bouan, Managing Partner at Seedstars Africa Ventures: “As we seek to constantly expand  our partnerships with international and regional institutional actors, Pass Africa’s endorsement will  directly contribute to facilitate market access and revenue growth for these entrepreneurs.”

ANNOUNCEMENT 3: SEEDSTARS AFRICA VENTURES PARTNERS WITH LBO FRANCE FOR ITS USD 100  MILLION FUND FOR AFRICAN EARLY-STAGE ENTREPRENEURS 

Aiming at addressing the investment gap existing in Africa, Seedstars Africa Ventures partners with  LBO France as part of the new African strategy of the French PE firm totalling €6.3 billion in  commitments. In cooperation with Seedstars, a global emerging market accelerator active in 25  African countries, the fund focuses on financing innovative companies operating in sub-Saharan  Africa in seed and series A rounds.

Robert Daussun, CEO of LBO France: “Africa has become LBO France’s new frontier with Venture as  one of the strategies we are implementing on the continent. Innovation is buoyant there, the mood  is incredibly positive and demography and economy are powerful drivers. Partnering with  Seesdstars, is a terrific opportunity to address this new market.”

The fund is closing its third investment, growing its footprint from education and connectivity to  agriculture. It leverages a footprint across the region to invest in early-stage companies across  sectors, beyond the region’s main tech hubs. By investing up to $2 million and with a capacity to  reinvest, the fund acts as the missing link between accelerators and later stage funds.

Maxime Bouan, Managing Partner: “Bringing on board LBO France is a major milestone for African  entrepreneurship as it shows the attractivity of the venture capital segment and the increasing  comfort international investors have in investing in early-stage African innovation.”

Funded by private institutional capital, the fund is being joined by public institutions and corporates.

Tamim El Zein, Managing Partner: “LBO France’s commitment is a strong signal to the market,  incentivizing corporates and other institutional investors to partner and benefit fully from the African  growth opportunity.”

About Viva Technology 

In just four years VivaTech has become the biggest startup and tech event in Europe and is recognized  worldwide as a powerful catalyst for business transformation, startup growth and innovation for the  common good. Every year, VivaTech brings together in Paris the world’s top business leaders, startups,  investors, researchers and thinkers for a unique experience combining inspiration, networking and a  showcase for innovation. Starting in 2021, VivaTech will be enriched with a digital platform that will bring  together an even larger community of innovators. By 2019 VivaTech had already reached 231 million people  worldwide and brought together 124,000 visitors on-site in Paris, among them more than 13,000 startups,  3,000 venture capitalists and 2,500 journalists from 124 countries. The fifth edition of VivaTech is taking place  June 16-19, 2021.

About Conseil présidentiel pour l’Afrique (CPA) 

The Conseil présidentiel pour l’Afrique (CPA), which was officially announced in Paris by the President of the  Republic Emmanuel Macron on August 29, 2017 in his yearly address to ambassadors, is in line with the  President’s commitment to renew the partnership between France and the African continent. Members of  the CPA are volunteers, which hail from civil society and are part of the African diasporas. This independent  structure aims to develop a permanent bond with civil society, youth and African diasporas, in order to  further take into account their expectations and concerns, and formulate proposals for actions related to  promising sectors in the relationship between France and Africa, such as entrepreneurship, innovation,  sustainable development, education, healthcare…

About Seedstars Africa Ventures 

Seedstars Africa Ventures is a pan-African venture capital fund positioned as the missing link between the  earliest stage investors (e.g. business angels, accelerators and local funds) and later stage investors  (growth capital and private equity). The fund focuses on African innovation and is looking to fund and  support the Continent’s next champions, with an existing footprint across 25 countries in Sub Saharan  Africa. Seedstars Africa Ventures is an institutional fund supported by corporates, financial institutions and  family offices, both African and international.

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