African start-ups gain traction in top tech networking events
2022 kicked off for NTF V tech entrepreneurs with two major networking events: the Africa Tech Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, and the global 4 Years From Now (4YFN) the leading start-up and innovation platform of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The Africa Tech Summit on 23 and 24 February provided unrivalled insight, networking, and business opportunities for those in the African tech ecosystem. With more than 500 delegates, the summit explored the latest trends and connected African and international corporates, start-ups and investors.
The Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF) V programme attended the event with a delegation of six start-ups. David Opio, CEO of gnuGrid CRB, Uganda, was one of those. gnuGrid specialises in credit profiles and was recently licensed by the Bank of Uganda as the first indigenous Credit Reference Bureau.
Prior to the summit, Opio had already started reaching out to impact investors and venture capitalists who were planning to attend. After meeting them in person, Opio returned to Uganda with a signed contract with one company and two additional potential partnerships.
“These events are significant for start-ups as it is one of the avenues to meet people you can partner with and get ideas of how to scale into new markets, and find investors,” said Opio.
The Africa Tech Summit focusses on the pan-African ecosystem for companies wanting to scale in African countries. For businesses like gnuGrid, it can be an essential step towards going global.
“What impressed me was the diversity of people who came in terms of investment, knowledge, and potential partners. Several people from different countries came to our booth looking for collaborations,” said Opio. “The vibe was very positive, you could walk up to someone and pitch your business and they were willing to listen.”
Later that same month, supported by NTF V, L’AfricaMobile and Looka from Senegal, Esoko from Ghana and Beem from Tanzania, took centre stage at the NTF V exhibition space at 4YFN.
The event, which pulled together more than 60,000 people and another 500,000 unique virtual viewers, gives start-ups, investors, corporations and public institutions a place to discover, create and launch new ventures together.
“The start-up area was a lot bigger and better organized than before, and we were in the main conference area which was exciting. We met a lot of people. A lot of mobile operators and high-level decision makers and partner agencies were there, and GSMA’s development arm, was right next to us. These are good relationships to have,” said Beem’s CEO Taha Jiwaji.
GSMA, or Global System for Mobile Communications is an industry organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators around the world.
Beem is a customer communication engagement platform for businesses and works closely with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). Jiwaji met several existing and new partners at the event, and he is now following up on those contacts to form new business relationships.
“The face time you get at these events is important, and it is a must-do in the B2B space. This is how we convert relationships into business,” Jiwaji added.
NTF V’s booths were strategically located in a high-traffic area, giving the start-ups greater visibility and credibility. NTF V also provided extra passes to the start-ups’ partners and clients to attend the 28 February-3 March event.
Both Jiwaji and Opio acknowledged that attending through NTF V helped them defray the expense of going to such events and gave them important added visibility.
“NTF V is building a global network of entrepreneurs which offers a huge channel for us to build market connections and scale our business, elements which normally take a lot of time and costs,” Opio said.
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and drive the internationalisation of tech start-ups and export of IT&BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.