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Bantaba: Connecting African Tech Startups With Diaspora Investors And Resources

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Bantaba co-founder and CEO, Lamin Darboe (Images: Supplied)

Bantaba is a digital matchmaking platform that allows African tech start-ups to access knowledge and capital from the diaspora community. The company was founded in July 2021, by a talented group of African diaspora. The mission is to empower Africa’s startup ecosystem using resources from the diaspora.

Lamin Darboe is the co-founder and CEO. Originally from Gambia with a background in finance, consulting and venture capital. While the other executives, Fabrice Ouedraogo (CTO) and Noufay Kafando (CPO) are from Burkina Faso. Fabrice has a background in computer science and cloud computing. While Noufay has a background in Engineering and management. The startup is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. But has a global workspace with employees based in Kenya, Germany, France, Taiwan.

Alaba: For those who don’t know, how does the Bantaba platform work?

Lamin: Bantaba is community-based platform that brings African tech startups and diaspora professionals & investors together to bridge the gap between global knowledge, capital and Africa’s startup ecosystem.

On one hand, African tech startups can create a pitch of their product or services and disclose their business needs on the platform. Diaspora professionals and investors, on the other hand, can create a profile showcasing  their skills, experience and as well as their interest in the African tech ecosystem.

The platform then uses the information provided to match startups with diasporas in the community that are in a position to add value to them and vice-versa. Once there is a match, Bantaba’s in-platform messaging feature can be used for communication.

As an example, a tech startup in Nigeria who is looking for someone with experience in capital raising will be matched with James, a diaspora professional in Finland who has spent years working at VC firms in Finland.

In addition to connecting Startups with diaspora, Bantaba also creates a space where startups can share their journey with the diaspora community making it possible for the startups to create awareness around their ventures and build valuable networks.

Alaba: What’s so special about Bantaba and how have you attracted users and grown the platform till date?

Lamin: What makes Bantaba special is its community. It brings African tech startups closer to capital and resources by creating a global network. That’s not all, our model democratises access to network, knowledge and capital which makes it possible for more startups to access valuable resources.  On the diaspora end, the platform finally gives millions of knowledgeable and wealthy Africans living abroad the ability to help the African continent grow. They can now support disruptive startups and also diversify investments by accessing a wider pool of startup investment opportunities.

Bantaba builds a solution for Africa, by harnessing African resources. It is championing a paradigm shift from the focus on remittance to investment in productive sectors of the African continent. Currently, Bantaba has over 500 diaspora and startup users on its platform, and this number is poised to significantly grow with the deployment of a new version of the platform.

Alaba: What have been the biggest challenges and successes in building the platform till date?

Lamin: The biggest challenge has been finding the right tech talent for the team. It’s not unexpected as the demand for tech talent has been skyrocketing since the pandemic. The fact that we are a young company makes it often difficult to compete with offers from big corporations.

However, the team is growing gradually, working together to achieve our mission of empowering Africa’s startup ecosystem. Since our beta launch, we have raised about $500,000 in funding, and been selected to join SSE Business Labs. One the biggest innovation hubs in Sweden. We were also among the 10 finalists at the 2021 Shift Capital Competition, which started with over 250 Swedish tech startups.

Alaba: African startups have been attracting a lot of VC funds lately. Why do you think so many investors are taking interest in this vertical? What do you think has changed recently?

Lamin: The potential in Africa has always been there. It has extensive resources, a young and increasingly educated workforce, and huge prospects for economic growth. However, until recent years it was largely untapped. The success of startups like Jumia, Andela and most recently Paystack in the ecosystem has significantly changed the perception of investors.

Similarly, the pandemic’s role in opening businesses globally has created new opportunities in e-commerce, work, spending money, online delivery, and learning. Now, VCs are vying for a piece of the African market. No one wants to be left out, so I think African VC funding will keep rising.

Alaba: How does it feel as African innovators making an impact in the Diaspora?

Lamin: We believe in the catalytic power of the African diaspora. And the passion of young African entrepreneurs and innovators looking to change/improve their communities with innovative solutions and digital technologies for green and inclusive development. Our digital platform gives them a helping hand by bringing them together to achieve the goal of a better Africa.

Alaba: What are Bantaba’s expansion plans in terms of product, tech & markets in the next 5 years?

Lamin: In terms of market, we started with leading African countries with well-established startup ecosystems like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Ghana. However, any startup on the continent is welcome to join our community. And access the available resources.

Our vision is to become the link between global capital and Africa’s startup ecosystem. Starting with the diaspora community, we want to enable African startups to have equal opportunity to capital. Like their peers in other parts of the world, and we want our platform to be the leading platform in the next 5 years to facilitate that active engagement. And collaboration between African startups and the diaspora community.

Alaba: Finally, what piece of advice would you give to budding African entrepreneurs both in the continent and Diaspora?

Lamin: Fear of failure doesn’t help anything grow. It is important to believe in yourself and never give up. By truly believing in what you are doing especially if it has a positive impact on your community. You can achieve a lot. That’s what will keep you going forward and during hard times. There will always be challenging times, and you can overcome them by believing in what you are doing.

Secondly, the road to startup success is not linear. Being flexible as an entrepreneur is important. When building something, you will get a lot of feedback. And they are always nice to receive, but sometimes difficult to implement. At the times when what you are doing does not reflect the market. Take a step back and readjust your strategy to fit it. That’s the only way to survive and grow.

 

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Afripreneur

Theo Baloyi on building a sneaker brand for Africans

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Theo Baloyi, Founder of Bathu (Image: Supplied).

This entrepreneur created a 100% African shoe brand to wage war on Nike and Adidas. His name is Theo Baloyi, and he is a South African entrepreneur. Judging the market shares of the shoe giants too high in Africa, he decided to leave an important position at PWC in Dubai to launch Bathu Sneakers. 

After months of feasibility studies, and being rejected by 13 different shoe factories – Theo Baloyi’s perseverance pays off and the Mesh Edition Sneaker is born. Bathu, which means shoes in townships across South Africa, is a sneaker brand launched in 2015, in a local township (Alexandra), whose colors and patterns are inspired by Africa. Bathu bought its first delivery vehicle and opened its first physical store in Newtown Junction Mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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Part of Theo Baloyi’s pillars for Bathu from the start was to create 100 meaningful jobs. In 2020 this was achieved. The brand has been a dazzling success, with more than thirty stores now in South Africa, and numerous distinctions.  It has now grown exponentially over the years, with 32 stores nationwide and a staff complement of over 300 employees, who are predominantly youth. 

The Bathu story is more than just a story of sneakers. It’s a story of owning your destiny, staying true to who you are, persevering, following your dreams and doing something you are passionate about. It’s a story of walking your journey. The brand is more than just a sneaker business but a beacon of hope that each person has valid and attainable dreams regardless of background and unfavourable personal circumstances.

The Bathu tagline, “Walk your Journey”, is centered around its mission statement of reigniting hope and creating sustainable employment. We believe everyone is on a journey; ours is to equip, ignite and enable that journey.

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Afripreneur

Ideas Origin Media: Unearthing Innovation and Transforming Brands With Disruptive Creativity

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Ideas Origin Media CEO, Israel Obatunde (Image: Supplied).

Ideas Origin Media is a creative powerhouse disrupting the advertising industry since its inception in 2022. Led by the creative juggernaut, Israel Obatunde, the Originals as they are popularly called, are making strong waves in providing solutions for people and businesses who need unique strategies and creative innovation that can help their brands break through clutter in their industries.

In today’s competitive business landscape, brands are constantly seeking inventive ways to engage their target audience without breaking the bank. Against this backdrop, creative agencies with unique strategies are bending the rules and changing the game. One agency that stands out from the lot is Ideas Origin Media, a trailblazer reshaping brand narratives and consumer connections.

Driven by a profound comprehension of consumer dynamics, Ideas Origin Media’s strategic framework rests upon meticulously gathered insights. At its core, the agency champions originality, data-driven creativity, and innovative storytelling, catalyzing brand visibility and resonance in an interconnected world.

Israel Obatunde, the visionary CEO of Ideas Origin Media, believes the agency’s operational ethos is emphasizing a culture of risk-taking and collaboration. By prioritizing client-centric strategies and ongoing skill development, the agency ensures tailored and impactful creative solutions that transcend traditional advertising norms.

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Central to its organizational ethics is the acronym CANVAS: Creativity, Ambition, Novelty, Versatility, Accountability, and Support. Elizabeth Adesina, the Business Director, underscores these values as guiding principles, driving the agency’s mission to effect meaningful change in the industry. Shedding more light on this, she added that Adaptability and flexibility form the bedrock of Ideas Origin Media’s competitive edge. 

Recognizing and swiftly addressing operational inefficiencies such as bureaucracy and accountability gaps, the agency has fostered a culture of transparency and nimbleness within the agency, ensuring prompt, top-tier deliverables. 

To remain relevant amidst evolving consumer trends and technological disruptions, Ideas Origin Media prioritizes continual evolution. And by harnessing cutting-edge technologies, embracing industry trends, and championing originality, the agency sustains its innovative edge. 

The agency’s Creative Director, Segun Ayinla highlights the agency’s commitment to crafting culturally resonant campaigns that connect with diverse audiences. He elaborated further that by leveraging Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, Ideas Origin Media delivers authentic narratives that captivate and inspire.

With a portfolio boasting impactful campaigns like the 2024 DStv-AFCON and Jack Daniel’s Jack and The Beat campaign where the brand partnered with Hilda Baci, Ideas Origin Media continues to consistently push creative boundaries and deliver unparalleled brand experiences. Its recent expansion into the United Kingdom also signifies a bold stride towards global competitiveness, underlining the agency’s commitment to excellence and innovation. 

The CEO, Israel Obatunde has re-affirmed the agency’s ambitious growth trajectory, with plans for further expansion across Africa and beyond. Built to stand the test of time, each campaign undertaken by Ideas Origin Media is not just noteworthy but a glowing testimonial to the agency’s unwavering dedication to transformative creativity and unparalleled impact. 

As Ideas Origin Media charts new territories and cultivates strategic alliances, its journey unfolds with promise and potential, poised to redefine the contours of brand communication in Africa and beyond.

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Afripreneur

WaxPrint Media and AfricaNXT Unlocking Growth for African Founders at NY Tech Week

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WaxPrint Media partnered with AfricaNXT to present #dmaAfrica (Download My App), an interactive platform for African founders to foster meaningful connections with potential customers and investors. The program was held at Linkedin Social Impact HQ at the Empire State Building in Manhattan, NYC.

Each of the 5 startup founders engaged groups in 2 rounds of flash focus group sessions where attendees downloaded the apps or engaged the website for onboarding and provided feedback in real time. Following the focus groups, the founders pitched their early stage startups to a panel of investors/experts which included:

The featured founders represented diverse startups focused on tourism, sustainability, networking, and cultural experiences:

  • Isaac Otoo, founder of MigranX, the cultural copilot connecting immigrants and international students with authentic cultural experiences
  • Cavaughn J. Noel, MBA founder of daap, “Connect better”
  • Ibukunoluwa Adebayo, co-founder of Greensol.io, an All-in-One App focused on Utility bills payment and Solar Sales, Maintenance and Management
  • Marwh Nabil, co-founder of Easy Meets, a marketplace that simplifies planning hangouts & trips for groups or individuals and provides businesses with valuable information about potential customers.
  • Yoma Onosemuode, founder of Travelbay, the best way to plan, curate, book and experience travel across Africa.

“I have worked with African tech startups and founders over the past 10 years and have a deep understanding of their needs to achieve growth. A viable product and a community of loyal ambassadors can determine their capacity to scale and we sought to create that bridge for these founders with a focus on Africa during NY Tech Week,” shared Muhammida El Muhajir, #dmaAfrica co-host and Director of Strategy at WaxPrint Media, a boutique digital/communications agency with clients in over 22 countries.

#dmaAfrica co-hosts: WaxPrint Media Director of Strategy , Muhammida El Muhajir and Ngozi Odita, founder of AfricaNXT

NY Tech Week is an “unconference”,  an unbranded week of events sponsored by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm and  hosted by various members of the tech community all under the umbrella of “Tech Week.” NY Tech Week was an opportunity to showcase what makes the New York tech community special, meet people from across venture and startups, and learn from the best founders and companies.

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“The #dmaAfrica  event was an extension of our mission at AfricaNXT where we serve a global community eager to connect to Africa through diverse programming, immersive experiences, high-level conversations, and game-changing connections. We were thrilled to collaborate with Linkedin to support us in making an impact for these innovations from the African tech community in NYC,” added Ngozi Odita,  founder of AfricaNXT one of Nigeria’s leading innovation conferences.

The program closed with panelists iterating on each startup and answering the question “Will you download my app?”.

“Participating in #dmaAfrica was one of the best event experiences I have had as a founder. It was unlike any other and allowed me to intimately exchange with users and investors, share my story and see how they experience my web app. It forced me to go deeper and rethink how I communicate my vision and product,” said Yoma Onosemuode, the founder of Travelbay.

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