“Dive in and make an impact” – startup finalist’s call to budding African entrepreneurs
Six African Startups counted among the finalists for the Global Startup awards held in Changsha, China last week where the best individuals and companies from seven regions around the world were recognised for their ability to unlock entrepreneurial value.
Every year, the best startups are selected from seven regions around the world – the Nordics, South East Asia, Central Europe, SAARC Region (South Asia), Euro Asia, South Europe and Southern Africa – to compete in the Global Startup Awards.
However, the six categories were dominated by contestants from Europe and South-East Asia with none of the African contenders managing to secure a top spot.
Charles Savage, Founder of South African startup, Easy Equities, which competed in the category of Startup of the Year, said: “It’s a great privilege to be representing the continent and one we are really excited about. Competing with global players gives us the incredible opportunity to learn, collaborate and have some fun while doing what we love – sharing our story and journey with the world.”
He believes that the reason why African countries were represented in six of the eight categories is due to scarcity being a massive driver of innovation. “I am a firm believer that for every problem there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity waiting to be unlocked. Africa has lots of challenges to overcome and perhaps this drives us to be such effective innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Savage is positive about the continent’s prospects to monetise innovation, saying “Africa’s ability to leapfrog the technologies and infrastructure that held it back over the last few decades is being enabled by smarter and faster technologies empowering the continent to surpass global growth as it comes off a low base, with consumer demand for products and services still being largely unfulfilled.”
Pedro Ferreira, Director of CoWork Lab in Mozambique which was nominated as Best Coworking Space, concurred, saying “I believe that the outlook for the continent is really good and that we should expect double digit growth rates from many countries in Africa over the next decade.”
On being selected to participate in the Awards, he said “It feels great and it is a big honour to represent Africa in such a competition. Coworking spaces are relatively new on our continent and this will also be an opportunity to learn from our peers and to gain more knowledge and add more connections to our network.”
Ferreira’s advice for other African entrepreneurs is to study the market, utilise best case practices and take the first step. “The market exists and the continent needs entrepreneurs with tenacity and willingness to take that first step and persevere so they can reap the rewards later.”
Philip Kiracofe, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of South African accelerator SBC AfriTech, one of the contenders in the Best Accelerator or Incubator category, maintains that Africa needs many more incubators and accelerators to help empower startups. “We are happy to collaborate and share our best practices with anyone helping to grow tech and innovation hubs across the continent. Africa represents the most exciting growth opportunity for the rest of this century, and we say dive in and make an impact.”