London, the financial centre of the world is set to host this years African Start-Up Forum, an annual event organised by the consulting firm of Hudson & Idowu. The African Start-Up Forum aims
to create an avenue whereby prospective African businesses with extraordinarily high growth potential are positioned to network with foreign Private Equity and Venture Capital firms. It will highlight the core opportunities and challenges that are on offer within some African countries and their key sectors. Africa’s potential for growth, according to the organisers of the event is particularly relevant now as the global economy emerges from recession.
Tomiwa Idowu, managing partner of the firm organizing the event noted, “Foreign investors see Africa as the last frontier and are keen on entering the continent but they don’t know how. There is a huge perception problem, which is misplaced and unfair as it hinders many companies from venturing”. However, identifying and securing opportunity within the continent remains a top priority for foreign investors. Its attractiveness is not only in terms of economic growth but also political stability and social reforms.
The continent witnessed a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 6 percent last year and is projected to maintain this trend in 2013 and through the coming years. According to KPMG, Africa needs
to invest between US$90 billion and US$100 billion annually – more than double its current US$45 billion expenditure – to improve roads, railways, ports and other infrastructures and build hospitals and schools.
The continent’s underdeveloped financial sector and the difficulties faced by local firms in accessing finance are another major bottleneck. According to the African Development Bank, only one in five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa have a line of credit from a financial institution. Even large companies find it hard to get financing beyond five years from sources other than development finance institutions.
Above all, however, Africa’s most appealing feature for many investors is its youthful population, with all the growth that this implies for sales of consumer products and services. The Forum will hold at the Hilton London Tower bridge on May 3rd 2013 and will feature selected speakers from the African private sector, Developmental and Government institutions, International Venture Capitalists, Foreign Finance Corporations just to mention a few.
Delegates will include African CEO’s, Entrepreneurs, Foreign Investment Managers and High Net-worth Individuals.
It will bring together a host of successful African start-ups and highlight their business models and strategy for success alongside key International fund managers interested in Africa. It will also boast of numerous individuals from the media to academia.