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Seedstars Summit 2017: 3 key insights for African tech entrepreneurs

Recently, the Seedstars Summit 2017 took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Seedstars Summit is a conference for innovative tech startups from emerging markets competing for an equity investment of up to $500k, lots of mentoring, networking and other valuable business opportunities.

Part of the vision of Seedstars is to identify high-growth and high-impact startups in emerging markets. According to the innovation foundation Nesta, in the UK 6% of firms create 50% of new jobs and GDP growth. Seedstars is going after the 6%  of startups that can create 50% of new jobs and contribute to GDP growth in emerging markets.

In order to qualify for the Seedstars Summit tech startups had to compete at 65+ local and 5+ regional Seedstars events. At the local and regional events the best startups get identified and selected and then invited to the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland.

Seedstars summit Lausanne

Here are 3 key insights from the 2017 Seedstars Summit which you need to know about:

Seedstars Index: Evaluate the quality of your environment

In life and business we are shaped by our environment. When you find yourself in a supportive environment with lots of opportunities, mentors and resources you are more likely to succeed than without those factors. So if you have a choice, as an entrepreneur you want to start your business in an environment that gives you the best chance of success.

How do you know which environment gives you the best chance of success? One resource you can draw on in helping you to make that decision is the Seedstars Index.

The Seedstars Index (SSI) measures the quality, potential and maturity of the startup ecosystem visited by the Seedstars team in emerging markets. In total, Seedstars visited 66 ecosystems in 63 countries across the globe. It is also the only index in the world focusing on rising  startup ecosystems which have the most need for measurement and improvement.

The Seedstars Index measures 3 pillars: Culture, Environment and Opportunity.

The uncomfortable news for African tech entrepreneurs is that Africa has the lowest average SSI score of any region in the world with 46.4 out of a possible 100. According to the SSI Africa is still very much in development and it is home to 6 of the bottom 10 ecosystems evaluated. To put it into perspective, the second lowest region is Latin America with 53.7. Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) comes out on top with a score of 57.5.

Of all the ecosystems evaluated in the Seedstars Index including Silicon Valley, Cape Town's ecosystem ranks at number 5 which is very impressive placing it above Hong Kong, Moscow and Mexico City. In Africa, Cape Town obviously ranks at number 1 above Nairobi in Kenya, Johannesburg in South Africa, Kigali in Rwanda and Lagos in Nigeria.

If you are still to decide where to start your business or you are stuck in the place where you are right now, take a look at the Seedstars Index in helping you to decide where in Africa you should start your business.

More African success stories are needed

Africa has come a long way in many ways and as such the continent can be proud of those achievements. 2016 has seen the growth of numerous co-working spaces and tech hubs across the continent, the visit of Mark Zuckerberg to Lagos, Nigeria, major tech accelerators such as Ycombinator, 500 Startups and TechStars have opened their doors to African startups  as well as African start-ups raising over $360 million.

Also, in 2016 Giraffe from South Africa won a $500k equity investment at the Seedstars Summit beating 53 other tech startups from around the globe. Clearly, these are encouraging developments that need to be built on. But many more are needed.

As the Seedstars Index shows, 6 of the 10 bottom entrepreneurial eco-system evaluated are on the African continent while Africa has the lowest SSI score of any region in the world. This is against a backdrop of millions of unemployed, massive social inequalities, failing education and health systems and many other challenges.

Seedstars Summit Africa women

To address these issues more African success stories are needed with innovative solutions. Success stories have a ripple effect as they can act as a catalyst for ecosystems across the continent. Success stories inspire, change the perception around entrepreneurship and show that it is possible to succeed with innovative tech solutions amid daunting socio-economic constraints. This is what Africa needs more of.

African success stories will boost African ecosystems on the Seedstars Index score, encourage more investors to invest in African startups, produce more homegrown role models for other African entrepreneurs to be inspired by and show the world at large that Africa is an innovative continent with world-class capabilities.

It's all about the network

You have probably heard this many times before: It's all about the network and who you know.​ To improve your chance to succeed in business it helps to know the right people who can assist you in moving your business forward.

After speaking to a few entrepreneurs in attendance at the Seedstars Summit one thing became clear: what they valued most about Seedstars in general and the summit was access to a valuable network of mentors, supporters, possible funders as well as fellow entrepreneurs and much more. 

Business is a team sport as nobody has all the necessary skills, knowledge, energy and resources to succeed on their own. That's why you need people that will support you on your journey. Seedstars provide a very valuable network across the world which can create interesting opportunities for your business.

Working on your business is important. But so is making time to meet new people who will open doors for your business. So next time there is a Seedstars Summit or event in your country, or any entrepreneurial event for that matter, go along and meet inspiring people. You never know who you might meet and to what kind of opportunities it may lead to.

Until the next Seedstars Summit arrives in town you can start building your network online and connect with the Seedstars team via twitter:

Claudia Makadristo Seedstars Summit

Claudia Makadristo

Regional Manager Africa for Seedstars

Alisee de Tonnac Seedstars Summit

Alisée de Tonnac

Co-founder & CEO of Seedstars

Marcello Schermer Seedstars

Marcello Schermer

Managing Director Seedstars

Selam Kebede Seedstars Sumit

Selam Kebede

Startup scout across Africa for Seedstars

Seedstars Summit Africa team

See you at Seedstars Summit 2018

Now that the Seedstars Sumit 2017 has passed, look out for local and regional Seedstars events across Africa. The Seedstars team will continue with their quest to identify and scale the best African startups across the continent. Also, follow the twitter hashtag #SSWAFRICA to stay up to date with tweets about Seedstars activities on the continent or like them on facebook.

We hope to see many more African tech startups at the Seedstars Summit and ideally win some of the prizes on offer. Until then, keep pushing and doing great, innovative work.

About the Author Rise Africa Rise

Rise Africa Rise is your online guide to tech entrepreneurship and (social) innovation for African entrepreneurs, startups and businesses. Our aim is to provide you with valuable digital strategies, tools and insights to support you in building a world-class and competitive business in the 21st century.

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