It is always said that two hands are better than one. Honeywell Group and African Economic Revolution Fund (AERF) have partnered and formed Itanna. They have partnered to invest in African startups. Olivier Frendo, a Moroccan citizen, is one of the founders of AERF. He has had much interest in Africa for a long time. He has involved himself in many businesses across Africa.
He worked for JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs as an Investment Banker in Sub-Saharan Africa. He started working in Nigeria in 2000 as an intern at the French Consulate in Lagos. On the other side, Tomi Otudeko is the Head of Innovation and Sustainability. She is representing the Honeywell Group. She says that the group has much interest in innovation. Oliver had the background of the groups’ interest. She used it to remind them that the time for action had arrived in 2017.
The two took people through how Itanna plans to change Africa. The change was to start in Nigeria through their equity-based investment. From the AERF side, the group was formed under three pillars. One they were looking for a group with strong industrial and entrepreneurial roots. The second was the group that believed and understands the need for innovation. The last one was that they wanted the group that shares the same desire as AERF. That was the urge to create and develop an economic change in Africa.
On the other side, the Honeywell Group believed in using enterprise to improve the world. The group not only addresses smaller issues but it also gives time to bigger issues. The two groups had the qualities that each misses hence the need to partner. Honeywell wanted to have former investment bankers, private equity professionals, and lawyers. They also wanted innovators that can help in developing and running an accelerator. The former professions are to help plan for seed stage funding to when startups are mature for investments. The partnership role was to offer access.
Startups that will have interest in Honeywell Group accelerators will access their network. Also, the AERF’s network will be accessible to them. Honeywell Group has been operational in Nigeria for more than 45 years, so they have all the know-how needed. That will make them not only offer capital but to also offer startups the required tools to operate.
Itanna gives capital to the startups. Mentor-ship and expertise are given by the two parties. The Honeywell Group gives deep knowledge of the Nigerian market. AERF offers knowledge on capital. A good number of startups never went through the Silicon Valley to acquire capital. HIS and Jumia raised their billions of dollars from their bases in Lagos. Itanna offers Nigerian startups opportunity of raising capital without going to Silicon Valley.
There was a need to focus centrally on each cohort which helps to give the attention required. There should be one business in each cohort. The finch cohort has been used to use the financial gap that is already there. But that is not the stopping point. There will be an expansion of various sectors like eCommerce in future. Itanna prefers startups with Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). Those are startups that have already shown signs of developing something. There should be an idea that is ready to be executed.
The startups that register for the Itanna programs get $20,000. Two businesses with the Itanna innovation requirements will pocket $100,000. Each cohort runs for a period of 5 months. The current five months is for fintech. After which the next five months cycle program will have any other sector.