From 25 to 29 September, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School hosted 42 leading African and Africa-focused venture capital (VC) fund managers under the umbrella of the ‘Africa Venture Finance Programme’.
Orchestrated by the European Investment Bank’s Boost Africa programme and Africa Grow, this in-person programme took place for the second time, bringing together investors from 15 funds, including Partech, TLcom Capital, Novastar and Atlantica Ventures. The five-day event allowed participants to share resources and knowledge and discuss current and emerging challenges and opportunities, as well as the importance of impact for investing in Africa.
57% of the attending fund managers were women, reflecting a targeted drive for gender inclusiveness on the course. The industry influencers navigated a week replete with insights, connecting and exchanging with leaders from the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Commission, KfW, DEG Invest and other development finance institutions (DFIs). Conversations among participants demonstrated a collective commitment not just to investing in Africa, but doing so in a manner that brings about impactful, sustainable change.
This year’s programme included an award ceremony recognising excellence within the industry. Nominees, shortlisted by industry peers, presented their case to a jury of fund investors with Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, the CEO the African Venture Capital Association (AVCA), overseeing the proceedings as jury chair. Khaled Ben Jilani of AfricInvest received a life-time achievement award, while Flat6Labs was recognised as ‘Best Emerging Fund Manager’. Knife Capital took home the ‘Deal of the Year’ award for their investment in Kasha, a healthcare platform in Rwanda.
“The EIB has long worked with partners to encourage and support new ideas that will bring about lasting change for people across the African continent. The Bank is committed to fostering dialogue and sharing solutions and best practice; in recent years it has shared specialist skills with thousands of professionals across the African financial sector. We are proud of Boost Africa’s impact on the African VC ecosystem and it is great to see the continued success of the Africa Venture Finance Programme,” said Thomas Östros, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank.
“With its dynamic academic approach, know-how and real-world applications, Oxford University equipped the participants with the skills and networks necessary to navigate and thrive in the fast-evolving world of venture finance. The ripple effect of this program is already felt across the African VC ecosystem, enabling knowledge transfer, innovation and impact among GPs. Collaborating with strong strategic partners proved to be a key driver for a successful ecosystem building initiative” stated Thomas Klein, Managing Director of DEG Impact, advisor to the AfricaGrow Technical Assistance Facility.
“The African Venture Finance Programme is a great example of the type of high quality, impactful programmes that we aim to deliver at the Saïd Business School. We are proud of our strong links to the African Continent through our students, alumni and faculty and look forward to continuing to educate emerging leaders on our programmes.” – Aunnie Patton Power, African Venture Finance Programme.
“Witnessing the sheer tenacity and innovative spirit of African-led startups is nothing short of inspiring. These trailblazing entities stand as potent catalysts for continent-wide socio-economic development,” expressed Jalpa Patel, CEO of Adam Smith International, implementing partner of the EIB’s Boost Africa Technical Assistance Programme. “Through collaborative platforms like the Africa Venture Finance Programme, we’re not just spectators but active contributors, facilitating a future where these leaders are empowered to navigate, influence, and notably elevate Africa’s burgeoning investment landscape. It’s more than support; it’s a collective stride towards sustainable prosperity and global impact.”
“Spending the week with faculty and fellow Africa-focused investors was an incredibly gratifying experience. Sharing knowledge and insights is always powerful and I deeply enjoyed the entire program. I came away convinced that high integrity entrepreneurs focused on driving positive change and high impact to the continent have investing partners that will do what it takes to help founders and startups be successful. Sincere thanks again to our sponsors, faculty, coordinators and believers..”– Eghosa Omoigui, Managing Partner Echo VC, Course participant.
Key Takeaways from this Year’s Africa Venture Finance Programme:
- Attendees explored alternative approaches to the Silicon Valley VC model for portfolio construction that may better serve the African market. Participants also looked towards the VC ecosystems in Europe and the Middle East as potential models for future evolution.
- Participants foresaw a surge in the importance and usage of venture debt as a financing option in the coming months and years, indicating a potential shift in funding strategies.
- The substantial opportunity for regulators to facilitate the flow of private capital by mitigating investment barriers, thereby invigorating the African startup ecosystem was noted.
- Discussions highlighted the need to tailor investment models and strategies to the unique opportunities and challenges present in Africa, leaning into localised knowledge and expertise. Similarly, participants stressed the advantages of inclusive investment practices and leadership, in particular in terms of gender diversity.
- Topics like the future of AI in Africa and innovative solutions for identifying and building remarkable companies demonstrated a forward-thinking mindset among participants.
- Ensuring startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa are not only funded but adequately supported and nurtured through their growth phases was identified as a priority among fund managers.
The African tech ecosystem has seen a surge of capital inflows in recent years, reaching a record US$6.2 billion in 2022, up from US$1.7 billion in 2020. However, this still represents a mere 1% of global venture funding, well below the continent’s share of global GDP (3%) and its share of global population (17%). With an evident potential for profitability and global competitiveness, African startups represent a hub of innovation that, with the requisite support, can dynamically address both continental and global challenges.
About Boost Africa
Boost Africa is a joint initiative of the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank to enable and enhance entrepreneurship and innovation across Africa, supported by the European Commission and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States Secretariat. The EIB pillar of the Boost Africa programme comprises senior and junior tranche investments into VC funds in sub-Saharan Africa and is complemented by a technical assistance facility. The Boost Africa programme has so far supported five funds with close to EUR 70m senior and junior equity investments in TLcom Tide Africa, Partech Africa Venture Capital Fund, AfricInvest Venture Capital Growth Fund, the Janngo Capital Start-up Fund, and Atlantica Venture Fund.
The Boost Africa Technical Assistance Facility provides bespoke support to strengthen the core professional and operational skills of partner fund managers and their investees to realise growth potential among innovative tech start-ups and high-growth SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa. The funding is managed by the EIB and implemented by Adam Smith Europe, part of the Adam Smith International Group. The Technical Assistance Facility sits under the broader Boost Africa programme.
📧 firstname.lastname@example.org Boost Africa Technical Assistance Facility
AfricaGrow is a fund of funds domiciled in Germany, which aims to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups on the African continent by investing in pan-African regional and country-specific private equity and venture capital funds with proven track records and capacities. The Fund intends to have a catalytic effect on the emerging and dynamic African SME and start-up ecosystem, and thus contribute to the promotion of jobs and income, as well as strengthening sustainable economic growth. As a legally independent entity, AfricaGrow is a central instrument of the Compact with Africa (CwA) initiative, which was launched in 2017 under the 50 German G20 presidency. The technical assistance facility is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), while the fund is managed by Allianz Global Investors and advised by DEG Impact GmbH.
📧 email@example.com DEG Impact
About the EIB
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union, owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
EIB Global is the EIB Group’s specialised arm devoted to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance and a key partner in Global Gateway. We aim to support €100 billion of investment by the end of 2027, around one-third of the overall target of this EU initiative. With Team Europe, EIB Global fosters strong, focused partnerships alongside fellow development finance institutions and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies, and institutions through our offices around the world.
Susanna Seymour, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +352 43 79 87207/Mobile: +352 691 285 351 Website: wwww.eib.org/press- Press Office: +352 4379 21000 – email@example.com