MEST Presents The Next Frontier: The Year of the African Scaleup

MESTAfrica background as an Incubator with focus on African scaleup by establishing Hubs in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town with plans to expand to Abidjan. MEST is a subsidiary of Meltwater Foundation and have invested in 13 of their (incubator) companies.

Next was a brief intro by @SHACK15hub Community Manager, Sam Jervier, who explained about the co-working space with a niche focus as a Data Science hub. They are also part of the @MEST ecosystem, with an office in Berlin.

The event was Organised and coordinated by @DylanRichts Partnerships and Fundraising Associate @MESTAfrica. Dylan is also Co-Founder @TLAAfrica. Held on 8 February 2018, @SHACK15hub hosted @TLAAfrica @MESTAfrica event.


The Year Of The African Scaleup

Panel (L-R)
Paris Petgrave
Co-Founder @RareSeedCapital @WeLoveWork
Tomi Davies
President and Co-Founder @ABANAngels
Nicole Anderson
Managing Partner @RedsandPartners

The Panel was expertly moderated by Paris petgrave who led through questions and topics seamlessly and enabled highlights and objective points made by the panelists. Main subject areas covered as below;


Funding Africa

1. Three things we need on the continent. 1. Cash 2. Access to networks 3. Mentoring and bringing people together.

2. You can’t get away from the role academia has to play. This is where organizations like MEST come in.

3. Africa’s future in tech from people who actually know the landscape from a grassroot level .

4. There are a number of questions African scaleups must ask. 1 – What is the need and who is looking at that space? 2 – Are the problems you’re solving city based, regional, continental or global?

5. The culture overheads in Africa need to be maneuvered before any kind of development can take place across the continent.

6. Block chain holds the promise of improving transparency in financial transactions in Africa could tackle some of the issues around corruption .

7. Corporate venture is important for Africa because of their capacity for patience and skills transfer, which traditional VCs still struggle to deal with .

8. Governments have a massive role to play for African cities and countries that are looking to be taken seriously as promoting and supporting entrepreneurship. Rwanda and Mauritius are prime examples.

African Scaleups

1.  Dominate locally before expanding globally, the way MTN and Protea did with South Africa before moving abroad. And when Protea came to Nigeria, the first 10 or so hotels, they did with local partners so they could learn.

2. If we are looking for examples of successful scaling across the continent, start-ups need to look at how successfully larger incumbents like @MTNza have succeeded .

3. Instead of hoping for Unicorns let’s aim for gazelles. Gazelles churn out 20% month-on-month revenues that can serve as returns for its investors.

4. ‘Organisational Debt’ is an issue because of challenges with talent pipeline, culture, communication and on-boarding as the company scales. i.e. the issue of salaries for locals vrs foreign talent in scale-ups.

5. Not that long ago @scoutu wrote a fantastic report on many of these same challenges faced by Scale-ups in London, which reminds us that lessons can still be learnt.

Exit Strategy 

1.  In the African context exits and the focus on exits is fallacious and against the African focus on long term investments. We look for Gazelles not Unicorns.

2. Exits, from another perspective, are more about acquisition today than anything else.

3. Exits in Africa can be in different forms. The concept of destination IPOs is no longer attractive. Acquisition are more common.

4. Becoming a public company is no longer as attractive. Silicon Valley has killed that. Exits will be more about acquisitions rather than the big IPO.

An added bonus topic was:

Fintech & BlockChain Masterclass by Nicole

She gave a fascinating discussion about the Token Economy and how this is going to make funding more accessible for companies raising on the continent

She is on the advisory board of @GetWala and will be joining @Getwala team in #CapeTown next week as they gear up to launch #Dala crypto wallet in South Africa.

Crypto and blockchain is not just about access (although key) but it is about wealth creation on the ground.

The panel came to a close by the Moderator and networking followed afterwards.