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5 major players in the Africa startup ecosystem

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 10, 2014 06:00 AM

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In case you haven't been paying attention recently, the overall economic forecast for Africa is strong. The continent is in growth mode according to the OECD and UN Economic Commission for Africa. That extends to the Africa startup ecosystem as well. Here are 5 major players you need to know!

1. MEST
“The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and the MEST Incubator provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring Ghanaian software entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa.”

An arm of the non-profit Meltwater Foundation, MEST runs a two year training program in which budding entrepreneurs learn from experienced executives, MBA students and fellow entrepreneurs about how to monetize their innovative concepts. The incubator provides seed capital, guidance and support to graduates of the training program.

MEST is one route to tap into the community of African tech entrepreneurs.

2. VC4Africa
Venture Capital for Africa is a matchmaking platform that brings together investors and African Entrepreneurs. VC4Africa also assists entrepreneur in finding mentors and other resources. VC4Africa members host occasional meetups and networking events worldwide. The last one in Boston was about 2 years ago.

3. iHub Nairobi
Nairobi's Innovation Hub for the technology community is an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers, designers and researchers.

iHub sees as its purpose the building of an ecosystem to support the growth of Kenyan technology entrepreneurs. It boasts over 12,600 individuals and 152 companies among its membership.

4. African Venture Capital Association
The AVCA is a member supported organization with a mission to promote private equity and venture capital in Africa. Members include institutional investors, private equity and venture capital fund managers from 62 countries. Their activities support investments of all sizes and all stages of business growth. AVCA's research and events provide a way for US investors to learn more about the startup ecosystem and the broader African private sector landscape.

5. Angel Fair
More an event than a organization, Angel Fair is the brainchild of Ghanaian entrepreneur Eric Osiakwan, Scottish entrepreneur Jamie Clyde, and Artlogic, an events company that produces high end boutique fairs supporting the arts in Southern Africa. The first Angel Fair took place this past September in Johannesburg. It is part of a longer conversation that included a gathering at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, where investors, entrepreneurs and academics discussed how to make angel investing work in Africa.

Darnley Howard is president of Advansa International, a consulting firm that assists companies and entrepreneurs doing business in Africa and other emerging markets. Additional insights can be found at Darnley's blog emergingmktstories.wordpress.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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