Tech Trends (Channels TV)

African Startups Need To Package Themselves As Viable Asset Class, To Enable Them Access Funding; Says Michael Oluwagbemi

The Startup ecosystem in Africa has come up, over the years, through many ups and downs. What has, really, been the gain of the ecosystem, thus, far? This and many other issues, relating to the Startups ecosystem, were answered by Michael Oluwagbemi, Co-Founder, LoftyInc Allied Partners, when I had him on the Tech Trends Show on Channels Television.

CFA: What has been the biggest gain for innovations in Africa?

Michael: I will say the biggest gain is organizing, just having everyone agree to work together. I remember the very early days, when AfriLabs, which is the organization, you referred to, was being considered, I was actually on a trip to Ghana, trying to build linkages with other incubators and acceleration hubs, which were, then, just being developed in our different countries disparately and I was on my way to MEST.

When I got to MEST and somebody at MEST told me that, there is this thing called, AfriLab that everybody is trying to put together, that I need to contact, our then, first Chairman, who today, runs VC , that I should contact him.

I did and immediately, Innovation hub was among the very first few hubs that, was admitted into AfriLabs and then, we had our first meeting in Berlin, Germany. It was an enlightening session to see African young people, then, coming back home under the guise of bringing back all the skills they’ve learnt in universities across the world, to help develop technology in Africa.

CFA: Some would say that, it’s more of hypes and less of real progress. What is your opinion?

Michael: PR is progress. For longest time, Africa had the bad hype. In fact, they still talk about the bad press. Bad press perpetuates the imagery of Africa, that of ignorance, of hunger, of diseases, poverty and war. Yes, when you now have good press, hype, that is progress.

CFA: Do you still see the issue of funding as a challenge?

Michael: I have always regarded funding as an over-hyped challenge because, it is not scarcity of money that is the problem, it is the scarcity of good and great projects. There is no scarcity of money, to say, even, within Africa, but the question is, have we correctly hyped ourselves? Have we correctly packaged ourselves? Have we correctly put ourselves together that, we are the best investment option, out there, compared with other asset classes? Have we put ourselves out there, as a viable asset class, that will return money in the long run, for investors, but not only doing that, but also solve problems, that will return what I call, emotional capital, emotional return, the social capital, back to investors. I think that is very important, as well.

You can watch the full interview here