Interview: Why BMCE’s AEAwards launched an Angel Investors Network, African Entrepreneurship Angels

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African Entrepreneurship Angels

On 10th November last year, Bank of Africa together with the African Entrepreneurship Angels, hosted a private, invitation-only event, Angel Investor Seminar in Kampala, Uganda at Protea Hotel.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together local and international investors who are actively investing in East Africa with those who are interested in investing. According to the invitation, we got ahold of, about 10 active investors from Europe, UK, US, and Asia were invited.

At this very event, some entrepreneurs were allowed to pitch their ideas to the group from the agri-sector, IT-sector, and education sector.

This seminar was designed to raise collective wisdom about angel investing. Which, as we later learnt, is one of the many activities that AEAngels is doing. (See also: Uganda’s Geoffrey Ssekatawa wins $50,000 for recycling motor oil)

In a conversation with Sofia Maarouf, who sits on the award team of the African Entrepreneurship Awards, we were able to understand more about AEAngels.

Find details of our conversation below;

Startup Digest Africa: What is AE Angels? How does it work? Are you looking at investing in AE Award winners and nominees only?

Sofia Maarouf: AE Angels was soft-launched 2017 as part of the African Entrepreneurship Award, a BMCE Bank of Africa initiative. AEAngels stands for African Entrepreneurship Angels. The AEAngels network creates opportunities for angel investors to meet their peers, hear qualified entrepreneurs pitch, and provides anonymous access to qualified deal flow from the African Entrepreneurship Award Entrepreneurs pool.

SDA: How many countries are you covering?

SM: We provide investment opportunities to all 54 African countries. We are starting by launching local Investment events where Entrepreneurs are invited to pitch to a selected audience of Angel Investors. We had our first event in Kampala, Uganda in November 2017, and the next events are scheduled for the first quarter of 2018 in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar.

SDA: Are you looking to work closely with the already existing Angel Networks across the continent and other continents? What will be the nature of the relationship?

SM: AEAngels is an independent network. However, we welcome all Angel Investors no matter which angel network they are already part of. Our goal is to improve their investing efforts across Africa and close the startup funding gap.

SDA:  But, the existing Angel Networks are still finding it difficult to stimulate local angel investment across the continent. What are you looking to do different apart from what they’re already doing?

SM: AEAngels is leveraging the African Entrepreneurship Award network of over 11000 entrepreneurs, as well as a network of over 300 Mentors who can also become Investors.

Also read: Startup Digest Africa Founders Top 10: The top 10 Ugandan tech startups of 2017 as ranked by the founders

SDA: This sounds similar to the previous question, but, what can be done to ensure local Angels are cultivated and also pick interest in local startups?

SM: Angel investors need to be exposed to more investment opportunities of vetted Entrepreneurs, which is what we plan on doing. This would show them the opportunities that are available.

SDA: Are there any deals members of AE Angels have made so far? In case yes, what are the most outstanding so far?

SM: No, not yet as we are still in Pilot Phase.

SDA: What is an ideal business that AEAngels will be focusing on and encourage its members to invest in?

SM: There is no ideal business as each Angel Investor looks for something different when they want to invest.

SDA: What criteria are you using to admit one to AEAngels? Is it an invite only? Again, if yes, who qualifies?

AEAngels is open to all Angel Investors interested in investing in African Businesses.

SDA: Any details you think people should know about AE Angels?

AEAngels is part of a larger initiative which is the African Entrepreneurship Award, a yearly$1 million award for African Entrepreneurs, powered by BMCE Bank of Africa.

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