Syndicate content

Innovation

Towards A Business Model For Funding African Startups

Note: This blog post is adapted from a much longer discussion by the author under the same title that was published at Tekedia on January 7, 2013. You can read that blog post here. Small sections of this article are identical to segments of the original article.Africa's entrepreneurs are teeming with ideas for innovative startups. But where can they get the funding?

The problem in brief
Africa is experiencing a boom in entrepreneurship due to proliferating Internet and mobile computing technologies. Simultaneously African startups face the often life-threatening impediment of inadequate access to seed and early stage venture capital. Fortunately, a number of developments in other parts of the world point to the contours of an approach to solving that problem in a manner that necessarily starts out small, but that can eventually be scaled in a meaningful way.

Being Average is Your Superpower

Sandra Moscoso's picture

Last week, on my way home from work, I met a young man raising funds for a charity. He stood outside of a subway station and as part of his pitch, he asked, "if you could have any superpower, what would it be?" I offered the same answer I have been giving my children for years. "I have a superpower. It's reading." I suspect this both annoys and inspires my children. Given that annoying and inspiring are among my favorite parental duties, I rather like this answer.
Since then, a few things have happened that are making me want to revise my response to that young man.

Social Media and Social Change: How Young People are Tapping into Technology

Ravi Kumar's picture

Today, 43% of the world’s population is 25 years old or younger. This young group is impatient and ready to change the world. Change for this generation “has everything to do with people and very little to do with political ideology,” according to a new global survey, Millennials: The Challenger Generation, by Havas Worldwide, a future-focused global ideas agency.  Some 70% of young people believe that social media is a force for change, says the survey.

These five examples from around the world show how youth used technology, social media and the Internet to make a difference recently.

HappyLife and Social Games: Solidarity goes viral!

Liviane Urquiza's picture


Stéphane Buthaud - HappyLifeLast week, I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with Stéphane Buthaud, the founder of HumanoGames, which is a video game company whose mission is to “change lives.” Mission accomplished.

Thanks to the game HappyLife, launched just one year ago, Facebook users can provide financial backing for the projects of small entrepreneurs all over the world.

This is how it works:  Each player creates his or her own micro-business in the virtual world of HappyLife and re-invests the profits to help an entrepreneur get started in business in real life.

“A Project for Solidarity on a Global Scale”

Nothing in Stéphane’s background pre-ordained him to become a creator of games for the Web.  After engineering studies and a Masters degree in International Business, he gained solid experience working for a number of NGOs on micro-finance projects; first in Bosnia, then Rwanda, China, Argentina, etc.  Until the day he decided to found his own social enterprise.

What made him decide to create a game on Facebook? “It was the best possible way to foster solidarity and rally a community without borders around a common objective.  I wanted to develop a solidarity project with a global reach, to help people who come up with projects, but who lack the means to get started,” Stéphane explains.  

Really? A game on Facebook that could help in the fight against poverty…?

#9 from 2012: 'Why Nations Fail': The Constitutionalists Were Right All Along

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2012

Originally published on May 1, 2012

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have produced a magisterial book: ‘Why Nations Fail’. If you are interested in governance, nay, if you are interested in development, you should read it. I picked it up the week it was published and I could not put it down until it was done. That is how powerful and well-written it is. Yet it is over 500 pages long. In what follows, I am going to focus on what I liked about it and the thoughts it provoked in me as I read it.

First, I admire the simplicity and power of the thesis: what the historical evidence suggests is that nations with inclusive political and economic institutions are capable of sustained growth. Nations with extractive political and economic institutions are not. End of story. Even when an authoritarian state/regime appears to engineer economic growth for a while, it will hit a limit soon enough. Why? Human creativity, human inventiveness and necessary creative destruction of old ways of doing things cannot happen in authoritarian environments. Vested interests are able all too easily to block threatening entrants to the economy; property rights are not secure and so on. Those who control political institutions use their power to extract surpluses in often brutal ways. Key quote:

Angel Investors as Startup Enablers in the Developing World

Oltac Unsal's picture

A normative definition that I use as a recovering angel investor myself is that an angel investor actively helps a seed stage startup succeed with both mentorship and capital in exchange for those intangible benefits of mentorship and a return on investment.  In World Bank parlance, then, they automatically provide both investments and technical assistance with no agency costs; a great recipe for solving multiple problems (funding capacity, entrepreneurial capability and access to early stage finance) in a cost effective way. Knowing that 318,480 of them invested $22.5 billion on 66,230 ventures in the US and achieved 27% annual returns forms the basis of our hypothesis that angel investing could work well in the developing world.

Is Africa ready to climb the value chain in agriculture?

Five hundred million. That’s the official estimate, the number that practitioners arrive at from a range of 200 to 900 million. That is the number of smallholder farmers in the world, and it makes a lot of eyes pop in development circles.

Take for example the most recent agribusiness value-chain event, Making the Connection: value chains for transforming small holder agriculture, which convened recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While the 500 attendees represented the private sector, government, civil society, farmers’ organizations and academia, almost all discussions had a way of looping back to one topic: smallholders.Why is it that the attendees were so fixated on the farming segment of the value chain? Is Africa not yet ready to climb past the very first rung of the value chain? Today, it is estimated that a mere 10% of the global agricultural production undergoes processing.

Radical Openness at TED Global

Sanjay Pradhan's picture

This summer I was invited to speak at the TED Global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on Open Development. As you might know, TED features "Ideas Worth Spreading" and this year's global conference focused on "Radical Openness." This was an opportunity to highlight how the traditional development paradigm is opening up in dramatic ways that allows us to achieve stronger development results. 

Today, many of us the world over are working to open up aid, increase transparency, empower citizens, and connect country practitioners to innovative solutions globally -- all of which moves us towards our goal of eradicating poverty. As per TED practice, this is interwoven with the evolution of my own thinking and experience as a development practitioner, since I was a student in India. I want to invite you to share your own innovations in Open Development.

Notes from the ‘Capital of Innovation’

Murat Seker's picture

This past summer, I joined my colleagues on a visit to the Global Innovation Summit and study tour in Silicon Valley—which is undoubtedly the world’s capital of innovation and entrepreneurship. Also joining us were representatives from Lebanon and Vietnam, who were clearly interested in enabling inclusive innovation in their respective countries.

Silicon Valley isn't afraid of failing and risking its way to success.  The Global Innovation Summit brought together more than 500 innovation practitioners—including entrepreneurs, financiers, think tanks, NGOs engaged in inclusive innovation, and government officials from emerging markets.  While we were there, we got an inside look at business accelerators, financiers, higher education institutions, and NGOs engaged in inclusive innovation.  It was an important learning opportunity for us, considering the importance of innovation to the development agenda and the World Bank’s role in fostering innovation in our client countries. 


Pages