This year Casablanca is definitely the capital of African startups. After Startup of the year Africa 2018, or Futur.E.S in Africa, the economic capital of Morocco welcomed Afrikonnect from March 22nd to 23rd. It is an event that brought together some thirty startups from Africa (Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria and Tanzania), key players in entrepreneurship and innovation namely entrepreneurs with high potential, business angels , venture capitalists, incubators and innovation experts from francophone and anglophone Africa and the MENA region.
No less than 200 participants including high-level speakers like Kamran Elahian, Silicon Valley-based venture capital investor, former United Nations and Singapore government advisor on entrepreneurship and innovation, Fadi Ghandour, founder from Wamda Capital, a Dubai-based venture capital fund for the MENA region, Aaron Fu, chief executive of MEST, recognized as the best incubator in Africa, present in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, or Yann Kwizera, entrepreneur and Rwandan business angel who participated in the digital transformation of Rwanda and its governmental institutions (e-gov).
“This is the first edition of Afrikonnect which is a platform that aims to accelerate collaboration between major groups and African startups in a growth phase. The goal is really to help large groups to digitize by having access to these startups and become their customers. The other objective is also to allow these startups to have access to another market, particularly in French-speaking Africa, “says Kenza Lahlou, founder and managing partner of Outlierz Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in african startups. “We invited the startups of our African network to meet the major Moroccan groups in the banking, insurance, agriculture, transport, etc. sectors. She adds. For Kenza Lahlou, it is now important to be able to change the mindset of both sides (startups and large groups) to promote real collaborations to innovate. For his part, Kamran Elahian, believes that Morocco has enormous potential.
“This country is teeming with young people who are bursting with energy and who are intelligent and already have the fundamentals of an economy of innovation. I am here to meet authorities and entrepreneurs. The potential for entrepreneurship is really huge, “he says. Kamran Elahian intervened in two Afrikonnect panels where he gave a series of advice to the younger generation. Ismail Diouri, Managing Director of Attijariwafa bank, who spoke on a panel on banking and insurance transformation, said startups and large groups have an interest in working together rather than becoming competitors. “Startups and big groups should not be competitors. Instead of there being competition and mistrust between the two sides, I think there are a myriad of reasons why both sides need to work together to create an ecosystem and put in place an offer. more competitive services tailored to customer expectations, “he explains. He goes further on the access aspect of start-ups financing by stressing that there is a communication problem between the two parties.
“There is really a need for explanation on the subject of access to bank financing for startups. Startups need to understand that the need for financing at certain stages of their business development does not go through the bank, which is not there to serve business creation. And this, for the simple reason that debt is a very bad way to finance a business creation because at this stage, the company has no cashflow, is not certain to have cashflow and if its promoter has no personal property, the company will not even be able to give guarantees to have credit, “says the CEO of Attijariwafa bank. It should be noted that Afrikonnect was organized under the leadership of StartupYourLife and LaFactory, two recognized players in the Moroccan entrepreneurial scene, in partnership with Outlierz Ventures.