An Open Letter to African Entrepreneurs and their Angels

by | Apr 11, 2016

There’s so much publicity going on right now on the African tech space and the question is who’s going to be the next African unicorn?

Building a unicorn might be close to impossible if “Angel Investors” keep pushing entrepreneurs to the limit without room for innovation.

On the continent today, typical Angel Investors are not particular about innovation, time or market fit, what they want to see is the money. My major challenge with these set of people is that they push entrepreneur’s focus from building a robust & market fit product to focusing solely on revenue.

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I’m an ardent follower of revenue generation in business but if your product is crappy and without value add or solving a need, it won’t be long before you close business.

Some investors make references to unicorns like WhatsApp and Facebook who at their earliest stage had no idea how they would make money but built a product people want (market fit & robustness).

In Africa today, you pitch to an investor seeking “SEED CAPITAL” to grow and validate your business and he’s asking you if you have made $100k in revenue.

Even local banks that are mean’t to finance startups now compete with them. Thanks to the two pan African banks who now compete with us in the eCommerce space (Ecobank’s MyMall, and GTBank’s SME Hub). If HSBC and Bank of America had competed with Facebook and Amazon at the earliest stage this article would have been a different story.

Our local banks and telcos now bully young entrepreneurs trying to create something of significance, knowing fully well that they could get trampled upon by the big boys. Investors often complain that there are no startups to fund whereas there focus is on the amount made rather than innovation and growth.

We need real angels that are willing to stay here for a while and grow with young entrepreneurs not put them under unnecessary pressure.

In conclusion, I urge burdened entrepreneurs to stop chasing investors and focus on their product and customers. We have startups that have bootstrapped to a growing point —  Traclist, Printivo and Asuqu.com to mention a few.

To our potential investors, you just have to understand that innovation, time, research and growth are essential to building a unicorn. To our local banks, telcos and other landlords in the ecosystem, this is for you “A father does not compete with his son”

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R.J. Musah
R.J. Musah

Tell me I can’t, I will show you a 1000 ways to get it done. Entrepreneurs’ Senior Advocate (ESA), Founder at Asuqu.com

On January 22, 2022, be part of the largest gathering of innovators, startup founders, thinkers, programmers, policymakers, and investors in West Africa. Register free.

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