Emma van Emmerik

The Future of Africa Lies in the Hands of Entrepreneurs

On August 22, Rockstart teamed up with PitchDrive to host 14 top African startups in our Ballroom. The run of show included an introduction to the African startup scene, pitches by each entrepreneur, and a panel discussion with two tech entrepreneurs hosted by Rune Theill, Rockstart co-founder and CEO.

The African startup ecosystem is becoming home to booming startup growth. CcHUB, Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space is at the heart of this movement. In the words of Bosun Tijani, CEO of CcHUB, the continent is brimming with entrepreneurs creating “businesses that are essential to the future of Africa”.

The HUB is a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors, and hackers in and around Lagos to co-create new solutions to social problems in Nigeria. The HUB is designed to accelerate the successful development of social tech ventures through an array of business support resources and services, developed and orchestrated by management and offered both in the space and through its network of partners.

CcHUB & Rockstart

CcHUB partnered with Google for Entrepreneurs to launch PitchDrive, a tour where 14 top African startups visit exciting tech cities in Europe (London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich, and Paris) to pitch to investors, explore international opportunities and learn about frontier technology markets. This year’s group consists of entrepreneurs from eight different countries: South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Ghana.

PitchDrive’s stop in Amsterdam included a visit to Booking.com, a classic canal boat ride, and an evening with us at Rockstart, where each startup had the opportunity to pitch its cause

Tijani and Rune Theill, CEO of Rockstart,co-hosted the event. Following an African-inspired music performance, Tijani took the floor, prefacing his introduction of the startups with his excitement about the current growth trajectory of startups present.

“I think that the technology we have access to lately is changing our world in tremendous ways,” Tijani stated. The aim of PitchDrive is to bring together ambitious African entrepreneurs to collaborate and learn from each others’ experiences and to travel as a group to build a strong business network in Europe.

Each startup was born out of the determination to address a complex social, economic, or health market need in their respective country and greater Africa. Real Food, for example, aims to address the rise of chronic lifestyle diseases in Africa by providing access to healthy, nutritious food with home delivery. Founder, Juliana Costa, stated that her aim is to become the Hello Fresh of Africa, increasing accessibility to the population by offering ordering opportunities on various platforms, including WhatsApp. Real Food was founded 15 months ago, has been profitable for 12, and seeks to improve the nutritional quality of African diets by minimizing farm-to-table time.

Another startup, Piggybank.ng is addressing he negative trend of African citizens lacking proper savings. Co-founder Odunayo Eweniyi stated that according to the World Bank, only 15.4 percent of the African population commits to accumulating funds  in their lifetime. Therefore the startup created an online platform that securely makes putting away money possible by combining discipline plus flexibility to help users grow their savings to reach their savings targets.

The evening concluded with a panel moderated by Theill, Tijani, and Trevor Kimenye, co-founder and CEO of Ongair. The panelists discussed how PitchDrive is integral in driving increased awareness of African startup growth to international investors. The 14 startups serve as ambassadors of the continent’s ecosystem. These founders are “making it easier for entrepreneurs coming after them to raise funding from Europe,” said Tijani. “People will see that Africans have an understanding of tech. People will see that Africans can do business.”

PitchDrive is shining the stage lights on the African startup scene and empowering fellow entrepreneurs to follow their path to the international stage.

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