Up and running, African Business Angels Network (ABAN) launches at EBAN 2014
Together with colleagues we launched a pan-African association to promote Angel investing and accelerate early stage entrepreneurship.
In the past few years business angel networks have been created across Africa, including networks like the Lagos Angels Network (LAN), Cameroon Angel Network (CAN), Cairo Angels, Ghana Angel Network (GAIN), and Silicon Cape. Of course we continue our work at Venture Capital for Africa (VC4Africa) and we expect many more to emerge the next few years. To facilitate this growth of investor networks for early stage entrepreneurship on the continent, and with support from the European Business Angels Network (EBAN), a group of us have come together to establish a pan-African network of networks called the African Business Angels Network (ABAN).
The idea of such a pan-African network was first discussed at the 5th EU-Africa Forum held in Brussels in February 2014. This is where VC4Africa hosted the Venture Capital roundtable with our colleagues at Sovec. One of the outcomes was the decision to organize an Africa Angel Investor Summit that would bring together the various African Angel investing networks to explore the creation of a pan-African network. In September 2014, VC4Africa and LAN hosted the first pan-African Angel Investor Summit as part of the DEMO Africa 2014 event in Lagos, Nigeria. Participants at the summit included business angels, impact investors, venture capital funds, and corporate venture capital managers. Participants at the meeting expressed the need to connect with counterparts across the continent and around the world through an organized structure. At the recently concluded EBAN 2014 Conference held in Helsinki, Finland the official launch of ABAN was announced.
With over 20,000 angel investors in Europe, many who consider opportunities in Africa, the timing for local African angels to rise couldn’t be more critical. Indeed, foreign capital can only engage when there are local investors willing and able to lead the way. At the same time, African companies increasingly look outside the continent for expansion or follow on capital. So there are many cross border opportunities to be had.
But first and foremost, the association looks to bring together the existing angel investing networks already active on the continent. There is a need to share our experiences and best practices. For example, LAN has spent considerable time looking at both equity and debt financing options that would work for the Nigerian context. This is analysis that could be useful for colleagues in Cameroon or Ghana. Why invest in these resources independently when we can do so more efficiently together?
And we know there are many individuals out there working to set up their own networks. We know many groups are in their formative stage and should have a resource where they can tap into the best ideas, tools and models. Here ABAN can work to accelerate their efforts needed to grow the angel investing community across the continent. Bottom line, this is an effort focused on growing the pool of available capital and for one purpose only….. to ensure the top innovators get the support they need to realize the potential of their ideas.
Our launch was made as part of Global Business Angel Week, a global event where angels and entrepreneurs around the world celebrate a culture of angel investing. And for ABAN and partners the focus this year is on African innovation and the central question ‘How do we multiply investments in African startups over the coming year?’. Already more than 2,500 members of the VC4Africa community will join 45 events that will take place Thursday the 20th of November.
At VC4Africa, we are excited to support this initiative and see ABAN as the next step in building a healthy and robust ecosystem for powering startup entrepreneurship on the continent.