The beauty of transitioning between calendar years is that it seems easier than normal to take stock of what has been over the past twelve months and what will be over the next year. For angel investing in Africa, 2016 was a firm step in the right direction and 2017 is set to build on this.
“2016 saw the rise of cross border collaboration of Angel groups across the continent and an increasing focus on Angel investor education as their investments in startups continued to grow. We also saw a marked increase in the number of Business Angel Syndicates and Networks emerging.”
Tomi Davies, ABAN President
There are two facts from the last year that are particularly exciting and worth writing home about:
Arguably this suggests a ‘coming-of-age’ and reaching critical mass for Angel Investing in Africa. There is a growing community of African Angel investors talking to each other (unimaginably important) and uniquely positioned to fund and grow African startups. Angel investing in Africa is kicking into second gear. Angel capital unlocks the innovative ventures and entrepreneurs critical to generating much of Africa’s employment and hope for a better future.
The African Business Angel Network (ABAN) has been one of the pivotal drivers behind this shift. Formally established as a non-profit organisation in 2015, its mission has been to increase the quantity and quality of Angel groups and investors active in African early stage investment markets.
ABAN has organised, co-organised, supported and addressed dozens of events since its formation. This activity has revolved around a clarion cry to understand and invest in the “African Opportunity”.
For the African diaspora and investors resident on other continents, this means showcasing the forecasted trajectory of Africa’s economic growth and the high calibre of existing start-ups. In other words, raising awareness of of the opportunity to invest in African start-ups, now, on the continent forecast to have the greatest economic growth over the next 20 years.
For potential and existing investors in Africa, the opportunity is the same, but the call to action is to lead and not wait for international investors to come to Africa. Improving know-how, connecting networks, mentoring new investors, shaping policy and encouraging greater levels of investment are all part of growing a stronger culture of Angel Investing in Africa.
Tomi Davies, President of ABAN motivates that, “Yes, we have problems, especially in the space of education, power and security. But we have something else — a growing middle class with cars and university degrees and a youthful population with energy and drive. The rest of the world is excited about what we can achieve and ready to support us. But first we must support ourselves.”
To get a sense of the of the growing level of activity around Angel Investing in Africa, here is a list of the 2016 events that ABAN led or contributed to:
Istanbul, Turkey, February 21-23, World Business Angels Investment Forum
Medellin, Colombia, March 14-17, GEC and inaugural GBAN members meeting
Washington DC, USA, March 22, ABAN Roadshow
Philadelphia, USA, May 9-11, ACA Summit
Porto, Portugal, May 26-27, EBAN Annual Congress
London, UK, June 22, Africa Technology Business Network
Silicon Valley, USA, June 22-24, Global Entrepreneurship Summit
Nairobi, Kenya, August 11, ABAN Masterclass
Johannesburg, South Africa, August 24, SABAN Johannesburg launch
Johannesburg, South Africa, August 26, ABAN Workshop @ DEMO Africa
Hargeisa, Somaliland, September 19-21, ABAN Masterclass
London, UK, September 29, The Next Frontier by MEST
Douala, Cameroon, October 7-8, ABAN Masterclass
London, UK, November 1, UKBAA Summit
Marseille, France, November 3-4, EMEA Business Forum
Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, SABAN Cape Town Launch
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, November 11, Africa Works Conference
Lagos, Nigeria, November 17, 3rd African Angel Investor Summit
Bangalore, India, November 21-23, World Start-Up Expo
Zagreb, Croatia, November 28-30, EBAN Winter University
Cairo, Egypt, December 6, ABAN Masterclass
Lagos, Nigeria, December 10, ABAN Masterclass with Rising Tide Africa
Connecting people, organisations and opportunities is at the core of nurturing Angel Investing in Africa. Starting 2017 compared to a few years ago, there is a vastly superior awareness of (and information about) what is happening, where and who is involved.
AAIS audience
It should come as no surprise that the theme of the 3rd African Angel Investor Summit was Co-Investing: Making It Work Together. Held in Lagos on 17 November 2016, over 150 investors gathered to connect and share best practices – opening up the channels of communication and trust required for syndication and co-investment.
In the latter parts of the 2016 the South African Business Angel Network (SABAN) launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town, establishing a body that not only drives forward Angel Investing in South Africa, but also connects the financial and other infrastructure of South Africa to Angels around the continent and abroad.
Over 150 people participated in these two launches, with many more expected to benefit from SABAN’s initiatives in 2017. Speakers included Baybars Altuntaş (Chair, World Business Angels Investment Forum), Anthony Record MBE (Co-Founder, Welsh ICE) and Connie Tzioumis (Director of Global Partnerships, U.S. State Department) and Audrey Mothupi (NFBAN Board Member).
The inaugural Lagos Angel Network (LAN) Startup Deal Day took place on 31 March 2016, followed by two further Deal Days on June 30th and November 16th. These three events brought investors and startups together, generating much needed investment activity and providing important opportunities for experienced and novice investors to co-invest.
In total US$475k was raised directly over the three days and more than US$200k in subsequent transactions – small by US standards, but significant in Africa (for now).
Following on from Nairobi, Lagos and Cape Town in 2015, ABAN Masterclasses took place in Hargeisa Somaliland, Douala, Cairo, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Lagos in 2016. With a focus on For Investors-By Investors, these sessions were well attended with top speakers sharing skills and experience with local investors.
Candace Johnson (EBAN President), Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa Lead Investor), Swiss-based investor Balz Roth,  Brigitte Baumann (Go Beyond Investing), Tomi Davies (ABAN President) and Stephen Gugu (Victoria Ventures lead) were just a few of those contributing to Masterclasses.
pic aais 2016
The primary reason Angel Investing in Africa took a big step forward in 2016 is due to the many organisations and individuals who have collaborated and partnered – investing their time and resources to see more Smart Capital unlocked in Africa.  
In particular ABAN’s work would not have been possible without the headline support of the WorkInProgress! Alliance and the LIONS Africa Partnership. Many other organisations have been instrumental to the success of the year including VC4A, EBAN, GEN, WBAF, Intercontinental Limited Trust, Socius and all the different national and local Angel groups across Africa.
David van Dijk, ABAN’s Director General, comments that, “Our supporters, volunteers and advocates are among the best any non-profit organisation could hope for – we are enormously proud of them all and appreciate the contributions they are making to Angel Investing in Africa”.
Looking ahead to what 2017 has in store, ABAN has a busy year lined up – assisting as many investors, groups and networks as possible realise their Angel investing potential. Masterclasses, Bootcamps and the 4th African Angel Investor Summit will all take place in the second half of 2017. In Q1 ABAN will be present and participating at two global events, the first in Istanbul for the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) and the second in Johannesburg for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
Reminder: All investors and VCs are invited to participate by 23 January to the 2017 Venture Finance in Africa research (5 minutes to complete) conducted by VC4A and partners. The 2016 report can be found here on VC4A.