Bringing Diversity & Swag into Angel Investment
Lamisi is a Software Engineer (Program developer), a social entrepreneur, philanthropist and a mother. Borned and raised in Oslo to Ghanaian parents, Lamisi had always ha strong relationship with the African continent.
She co-founded African Youth in Oslo at a very young age, a place for young Africans to learn about African history and civilisations, culture and politics. She later on co-founded African History Week in Norway, an organisation with the purpose of educating Norway about African history and culture through festivals of music, workshops and films.
Lamisi holds a Bachelor in Computer Engineering, a master in Informatics and a Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She has been working in ICT for the 17 years, and has worked in Dnb, Accenture, and Crayon, and has in the last years worked as an independent consultant for KLP and Skattetaten.
Studies have shown that the majority of women believe they don’t have the money, background or risk appetite to make angel investments. However new technologies and inventions have pushed the frontier for people from various financial abilities to be able to invest. This week, we had a conversation with Lamisi Gurah, one of the angel investors in the Pangea Investor Program, who certainly has the apeptite for angel investment. We hope this conversation can serve as an inspiration to all women and girls interested in early stage investment.
Lamisi is one of the few women out there doing what most people “talk about”; namely investing in African startups. She has without doubt, one of the most interesting backgrounds in the Pangea Investor Program. I think it is worth noting that she definitely brings sexy into of “Diversity and Tech”.
What are your perceptions of the Ghanaian and African tech ecosystems?
I think by now, we all have heard of the narratives of the economic and technologic growth in many of the African countries.
Technology in Africa has seen exponential growth over the last decade, partly driven by rapid adoption of mobile technology and rising startup ecosystems. For the last decades, mobile technology has been leveraged to empower many people without access to financial services. Countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania have taken a lead in mobile money, and these services are empowering people without access to the traditional banking services.
From the technology perspective, there is a need to design customised solutions when introducing new ideas, especially from the technologic perspective. Been a diaspora woman in tech with a background as ICT professional from Norway, she holds certain lenses in terms of identifying areas where technology could be leveraged to solve problems.
“Let us take a look at the city of Accra for example. There are 3 millions people living in Accra, and like many African cities, Accra suffers from congestion challenges. “I believe technology could be leveraged to create scalable navigation system that could solve some of these challenges. Already, mobile technology is allowing people to navigate through African streets without street names”.
She noted that medical; agriculture, education and finance sectors in African could leapfrog through technology. However, There is need for improvement of technological infrastructure that could help foster entrepreneurship. Although lack of infrastructure itself offers investment opportunities, African governments need to build institutions that will put infrastructure in place, while at the same time allowing the private sector to grow.
What do you think is missing in most of the African ecosystems?
Technology is proving to be a key driver of development particularly due to the fact that it is providing a tool for African entrepreneurs to create their own solutions. Unfortunately, even within the rising African tech ecosystem, there is still a need for co-creation networks and pipeline that trains and support African entrepreneurs. There is high unemployment rate in many African countries, and entrepreneurship must be leveraged to create jobs.
“One of the most important factors missing in most of the African ecosystem is a pipeline that allows African entrepreneurs to co-create and once that pipeline is there, mobilising capital to startups will not be as difficult as it is today”.
There are many small entrepreneurs on the grass root level with ideas and the understanding of making money; and more importantly they have the drive, mentality and spirit of entrepreneurship. However, to have a real impact in terms of job creation, there is a need of co-creation network, pipeline and processes that allow entrepreneurs to network, learn, innovate and co-create scalable businesses.
There is a lot of passive capital in the African ecosystem
“I believe mobilising capital to the startups is not the difficult part of the process, as there is enough knowledge and capital in the system. They just need to be catalyzed in the right directions”.
The problem compounds that entrepreneurs don’t have adequate access to the capital required to grow their businesses, there is lack of trust between investors and startups and lack of governance. Many African entrepreneurs rely on friends and fools and family in order to access capital and support.
From her standpoint, there is already a lot of capital flowing into the continent, in terms of remittances and aid. However, these are “passive capital” that are yet to be used to foster the co-creation of pipeline that is needed to build the technologic infrastructure that could bring value to entrepreneurs. One of the challenges with aid money is that is come with an agenda, and does not solve a local or African problem. It’s high time to shift focus from depending too much on international aid to helping Africans invest in their own continent and spur growth and job-creation.
“I think it is shame that many entities are building business to fit aid money instead of promoting and training entrepreneurs to solve local problems. Aid money does not necessary solves local problems”.
What are your motivations for joining the Pangea Investor Program?
“The Pangea Investor Program is doing what would have been almost impossible for me to achieve: Allowing me to access investment opportunities across the continent, by connecting me to African startups cases, while at the same time giving me real time information about the investment opportunities on the continent”.
As a diaspora, it is difficult to navigate through all the investment opportunities in many of African countries. It would have been difficult for me to invest African startups, as it would have required that “I travel to one or few countries, navigate through the different ecosystems, find startups, perform due diligence before making an investment decision”.
However, been a part of a group of investors has a “co-creation feeling” that makes the journey less complicated and much easier. In the short term that she has been in the program, Lamisi got great insights on the startups in the program. Although, she has the academic and professional background, it has been an interesting process to be a part of early stage investment.
“I like to see the potential of how tech can solve global challenges, and Pangea offers opportunity to do that”. All investment carry certain form of risks, but been a part of a group of investors also help minimize the risk, while at the same time learning about early stage investment.
She has personal ambitions to invest in Ghanaian startups, and co-investing in the Pangea Investor Program format gives great advantages. So far, she has learnt the importance of Due Diligence, asking the critical questions, and accessing startups has also given her insights in investable projects.
Although, there are no Ghanaian startups in the program, “I have got great insights in how early stage investment works, and I believe that The future of African should focused more on Pan African economy”. With 1 billion people, Africa represents a huge market potential and investment opportunities.
The Investment Program enlightens investors on investing in Africa and provides access to a larger community of investors. Investors gain first hand experience by direct interaction with startups in the accelerator. The investment program encourages interaction and cooperation between investors in evaluating startups and learning practical skills to making smart investments. The program comprises of 6 sessions that runs simultaneous to the accelerator program. At the end of the program money is awarded to one or more companies and angel investors become limited partners in a venture fund. Click here to learn more.
Are you African in the diaspora? Join our next batch of investor program. Contact email@example.com for more information.