The AfricArena pitching event


Africa has been able to attract the attention of many players in the global business sector. There are many positive developments that are taking place across the continent. This is all the way from technology, business to luring the interest of international investors into the continent. This shows that there is much in the store waiting to be tapped for those who have an idea on how to get them. We are going to offer an effective guideline on how to get the potential from the sponsors, corporate and company perspective.

AfricArena founder Christophe Viarnaud launched the AfricArena world trip in April this year. The tour comprises of stopovers at few of the African cities. These are cities that have experienced fastest growing tech in the recent past. The tour started in Reunion Island and Mauritius at the beginning of May 2018. The next stopover will be in Nairobi on 13th June, followed by Casablanca on 4th July. Lagos will come next on 18th July and lastly, it will be in Dakar on 19th September this year. Every stopover will have quick pitch competitions. This will be both in investor format and corporate challenge format. After which the three winners will take part at the 2018 AfricArena conference that will be held on 15th to 16th November this year in Cape Town SA.

The tour will go beyond the African borders. Four winners of the 2017 AfricArena will have investor road shows to Paris and New York. This will be aimed at showcasing Africa as an investment point and also to VivaTech hosted in Parish which features Afric@Tech section from 24th to 26th May this year. This will be the first time that the event is taking place in Paris. It will give the African tech an opportunity to shine out.

AfricArena was created to offer adherence for African startups as the best during the event. According to Viarnaud’s speech in 2017, the event is compared to watching a movie, placing the startups in front of investors’, media and attention of the corporates. They will be able to showcase for two consecutive days for various investor format challenges to allow them to do well and get investors and corporates. Furthermore, the major arena stage will have an opportunity to host the competition pitch session. This will be developed to host the best pitching sessions for startups in Africa. It will help them to pitch their services and products in front of investors.

However, AfricaArena World Tour will have to pick startups from Africa tech cities. That means that for a startup to secure a place it first have to open innovation challenge pitches. This will be organized for sponsors and corporates to select startups to collaborate with in offering solutions to an existing problem. Three of the selected startups will then have an opportunity to pitch at the AfricArena. Thereafter the winner will be awarded a POC or corporate’s incubator program. Here are the specific tour challenges:

RCS Bank Challenge; here the RCS will be sourcing a technology or product to secure and keep clients authentication details and ID. This will ease the client on-boarding and approve their transactions.

The Vinci Energies Challenge; here Vinci Energies will be sourcing for technology or a product to make energy accessible across Africa curtsey of energy flow optimization AI or blockchain and energy efficiency solutions.

The ‘best of ecosystem challenge by La Reunion French Tech and French Tech Ile Maurice category; the category is inviting the disruptive startups of every AfricArena tour city to showcase for them. Startups that have customer or market validations searching for international exposure are invited to make applications.

Furthermore, there will be investor pitches, giving the African best startups an opportunity to showcase in front of investors who will be physically present and online since the event will be streamed worldwide. Investors will be taught on how to work with African startups effectively. Therefore there will be marketing element during the event. The continent will be receiving more money yearly that will be used to fund the continent’s startups.

The Partech Ventures’ latest annual funding report explains broadly about the African startup ecosystem. The report shows that the 2017 venture capital funding got to %560 million recording a growth of 53%. Nigeria Kenya and South Africa were at the top with a total funding worth 76%. Francophone Africa is increasing deal of tractions with 14%. The interesting part of it is that financial inclusions inform of insuretech, off-agrid tech and fintech represents 45% of the deals.

Guardian Gabriel’s founder and the winner of 2017 startup challenge Xabiso Lombo and RCS’ head of innovative acceleration Rudi Visser explained the merits of their participation in AfricArena. They did this from entrepreneurial and corporate perspective respectively. They also explained how to make the best of AfriArena pitch process in 2018. According to Visser innovation takes place everywhere in the business so his role is mainly to speed up the processes that help them partner with startups. This is especially in the fintech scene while also making the process of accessing the market and customer easier. He added that RCS has an interest in getting the best in the unconventional scene. The brand has evolved making it to move from product innovation to business model innovation. Currently, it is moving to customer experience innovation. According to him, RCS is looking on how best they can serve their customers and eliminate friction. That is extended to their own staff and their retail partners. Visser adds that in the corporate space there are many spaces where one can get solutions and that is what they like most about the approach of AfricArena. They tend to get solutions to the real world problems rather than hypothetical ones.

Visser says that corporate in specific require stronger connection to entrepreneurs. They are sponsoring the challenge for the second year in a row keeping in focus that RCS itself developed as a startup within Foschini Group. He adds that there are two main reasons for corporates to take part in the events. The first reason is based on the fact that what one does not know will hurt them at last. The second reason is that one individual cannot be smarter than a group of people. When the two are put in practice they walk away from the echo-chamber approach when getting ways to grow their business and go on with offering services to their customers. Future is not created by simply carrying out research at one’s internal structure. According to Visser structures and systems always overshadows good intentions.

Lombo was the winner of the early stage pitching startup challenge in the securitech space at AfricArena in 2017. She won this when he was still a student while pitching the Guardian Gabriel wearable panic button. The button does not require connectivity since cell phones are always the first thing individuals do steal. She admits that getting a breakthrough is always hard since she never had any business knowledge at the start. This is even harder more so with the increasing number of student entrepreneurs. She had to reach out to the SA incubators for the assistance to execute her idea. She realized that it was not possible for her to do pitching for herself. The product has made high progress that she did not expect were it not for incubation support.

Lombo adds that student’s entrepreneurs require more of such challenges although they are rare to find. But she offers a suggestion of having marketing startup pitching events at the universities. She advises others who are looking forward to showcasing at 2018 startup and incubator challenges. She advises others to always get ready for the invitation. She received her initial invite to pitch at the event at the eve of the event. For that to be productive one has to understand their product that the main focus is not only pitching to the judges but to the whole audience. She adds that one has to learn from different pitches, gives their best, learns as much as possible from the event and always has fun at the event. Pitching made her know how to handle business and know what she has to achieve with the startup in a given time frame.


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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
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