Africa’s ICT investment landscape: where to look next?

This article was originally published on How We Made It In Africa on March 27, 2013. Please find the original article here. ICT in Africa is a blooming industry with its own set of unique opportunities and challenges. In the past decade, the growth of Africa’s mobile industry is considered to be one of the continent’s successes in development and technology. Services like M-Pesa have been innovative in developing solutions for an African context, offering mobile banking and money transfers where many remain unbanked. According to a recent report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), ICT in Africa remains an attractive business area. While it is true that most of the investment in this sector has been directed towards mobile and related applications, recently the focus has been on international submarine cables and developing broadband access on the continent. The mobile industry – growth slowing but investment opportunities remain AfDB estimates that the continent’s mobile industry contributes US$56 billion to the regional economy, around 3.5% of total GDP. Today the sector is competitive, with most markets now having at least three operators, which drives down prices for consumers and increases penetration. However, AfDB predicts that this industry will continue to grow, though profitability is declining. One of the reasons for this is due to the expanding coverage to underserved rural areas as operators look to acquire new subscribers at low-income levels. “The extreme pricing pressure and regulatory risks will affect the investment environment in the future,” stated AfDB’s report. “Poor road infrastructure that makes it expensive to transport equipment to set up mobile towers, and a dependence on diesel generators to power...

IT Liberia Competition challenges entrepreneurs with innovative workshops

In Liberia, our partner BSC Monrovia has taken proactive approach in the ICT Challenge, offering its participants a series of extensive business & IT training sessions. While internet penetration in the country is improving, this program, held at BSC Monrovia Entrepreneurship Center, also offers essential preparation to entrepreneurs with unreliable internet access. Prior to the Coaching deadline, 66 entrepreneurs applied for the IT Liberia Business Plan Competition. After scrupulous evaluation by the jury, 20 entrepreneurs were selected to attend a series of training workshops. BSC Monrovia undertook a workshop, between February 4 to 7, offering; business development, customer care, human resources, marketing and financial plan training. Allowing BSC Monrovia to utilize the service provider skills they developed during BiD Network’s Ready4Finance training. From March 18 to 22, competition partner iLab Liberia provided an innovative IT training session showing participants the benefits of IT engaged business, offering training and inspirational success stories to enlighten even the most observant Luddite. With a full day devoted to micro-blogging, social media marketing and access to finance online, iLab demonstrated the impact ICT can offer when starting or growing a business. The participants will now spend a month writing their business plan with the assistance of coaches and mentors as well as the facilities of BSC Monrovia, and some may even become local celebrities as the training week was filmed for a television show produced by the country. The final deadline for the competition is June 30, still time for ICT entrepreneurs to plug into the possibilities. Apply...

Women in Business | Underinvestment in Women Entrepreneurs

In 2009, only 17% of bidnetwork.org members was comprised by women entrepreneurs.Aware that women are key agents for sustainable development and so that they can have access more services and support, BiD Network has undertaken many initiatives – such as the Women in Business Challenge – to support and promote entrepreneurial equality. As a result of these efforts, women entrepreneurs now make up 35% of the member base, but further work remains to be done, locally and globally. As we attempt to improve and develop the services we provide to women entrepreneurs, we have recently engaged in a research partnership with Value for Women. This knowledge sharing structure will produce a series of research projects, providing insight on the difficulties and current trends facing women entrepreneurs, the first of which is the brilliant infographic below. The infographic looks at the issues of underinvestment in women’s entreprises and with the results detailing thatonly 1 in 10 entrepreneurs in impact investor portfolios are women, provides insight into the barriers women face when starting or growing a business in Latin America. With the next #WIBChat on March 19, on the topic of Access to Finance, the infographic provides interesting background to those wanting to join or follow the twitter chat. Please click on the image below to see an enlarged...

PERSPERICHT – Nationale Postcode Loterij

Recordbedrag van 291 miljoen euro voor goede doelen van Postcode Loterij Bill Clinton in gesprek met Femke Halsema Amsterdam, 13 februari 2013 – Ruim negentig goede doelen schitterden vandaag op het Goed Geld Gala van de Nationale Postcode Loterij.  In Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam maakte de grootste goededoelenloterij van Nederland bekend dat zij dankzij haar 2,5 miljoen deelnemers dit jaar een recordbedrag van 291 miljoen euro kan schenken aan de goede doelen.  De helft van ieder lot doneert de Postcode Loterij aan goede doelen op het gebied van mens en natuur. Eregast Bill Clinton was aanwezig namens zijn Clinton Foundation die sinds 2005 steun van de Postcode Loterij ontvangt. Femke Halsema vroeg Bill Clinton naar de definitie van leiderschap, de grootste uitdagingen van dit moment, duurzaamheid en de rol van maatschappelijke organisaties voor de samenleving. Bill Clinton sprak de aanwezigen in de zaal toe: “Elke Nederlander die meespeelt met de Postcode Loterij is daardoor eigenlijk zelf een goededoelenorganisatie, omdat je bijdraagt aan het verbeteren van het leven van anderen. Jullie kunnen trots zijn op dit bijzondere systeem van de loterij”. Baanbrekende droomprojecten werkelijkheid Na het gesprek met Femke Halsema maakte Bill Clinton bekend dat Artsen zonder Grenzen een van de twee organisaties is die een schenking krijgt uit het Postcode Loterij Droomfonds. Het Droomfonds geeft goededoelenorganisaties de mogelijkheid een nieuw, moedig en baanbrekend project te realiseren. Artsen zonder Grenzen: Doorbraak voor tbc Met de donatie van 6.791.000 euro uit het Droomfonds gaat Artsen zonder Grenzen de strijd aan met multiresistente tuberculose (MDR-TB), nieuwe vormen van tbc die niet te behandelen zijn met de standaardmedicijnen. Volgens de meest recente gegevens...

The ICT Challenge 2013: Accelerating Entrepreneurship & Innovation through ICT

Amsterdam, February 18 2013 – The ICT Challenge 2013, supports ICT entrepreneurship in five emerging markets: Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Palestine. This business plan competition – organized by BiD Network, in collaboration with Investment Partners; eVentures Africa Fund, SEAF, and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF), and Coaching Partner; Ernst & Young and Event Partner; TNO – aims to identify high potential business ideas, provide international exposure and finance. Information and communication technologies (ICT) draw societies and cultures together; strengthening economies, enterprises and communities around the world. The impact of ICT is magnified in emerging markets as it contributes to the development of education, health, markets, social capital and trust. Yet the industry still requires incubation in order to flourish, with 25% of the world’s population still unconnected from the benefits of such technologies. [*1] The ICT Challenge 2013 provides entrepreneurs with the assistance of the BiD Network coaching program, the access to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs, coaches and investors, and the opportunity to present their business plan to committed ready-to-invest financiers. ‘African SMEs are rapidly developing localized applications, content, platforms and solutions enabling over a billion Africans to use the web for communication, business, e-learning, and transactions. eVA Fund aims to capture the vast potential of digital media in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are delighted to partner BiD Network, who have proven effective at identifying potential investment opportunities, and training entrepreneurs to a matchmaking level’ says Vincent Kouwenhoven, founder eVentures Africa Fund. The ICT Challenge seeks businesses: • operating in one of the five following countries: Burundi, Rwanda, Liberia, Kosovo, or Palestine, • ICT focused, • growth  potential and a finance need of USD $10,000 to $1...

The Women in Business Challenge Awards

The Growing SMEs Conference in The Hague witnessed the culmination for many of the challenges run throughout the year. After a long and arduous competition, the Women in Business Challenge reached its final stage at the conference. This was the third edition of the Women in Business Challenge, a competition that since 2009 has provided support, coaching, visibility and finance to over 600 women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. This year the jury and sponsors noted a surge in the quality of business plans being submitted, making their task of selecting the finalists alone harder than ever. Selected from almost 300 applicants, the five finalists were chosen on account of their potential for growth and the overall quality of their business plans. While all five finalists did fantastically getting this far, there could only be one winner. Special congratulations should be awarded to the other four finalists – Kiki Kamanu and her eponymously named fashion label, Kosi Yankey and her company Nuba Foods, Stela Maris da Silva and BioPro, and Lois Gicheru and Solafrique. The winner of this competitive challenge, selected by our panel of expert judges mainly due to the potential societal impact her product could have, was Ella Peinovich and her innovative and empowering e-commerce platform, Sasa Africa. Ella Peinovich received a check for EUR 5,000 as reward for winning the Challenge as well as tailor made advisory services worth €5,000 from UnitedSucces. Peinovich went on to state: ” Sasa Africa is by and for women. According to some estimates, women represent 70 percent of the poor in the world. But at Sasa Africa we tend to look at...