ScaleUp Africa’s IGNITE Entrepreneurship Growth Festival held virtually earlier this month, was the largest recorded gathering of stakeholders in the Africa-Diaspora entrepreneurship ecosystem.
IGNITE attracted over 3000 high-profile entrepreneurs, business growth experts, investors, artists, and innovators from North America, The Caribbean, Europe and across the African continent including global brands and affiliates such as Fuse ODG, Paul C Brunson, Chocolate City, Afropolitan, Ubiquitous Games, RocNation, Afrochella, OHUB, Africa Business Angel Network (ABAN), IFFAC (Roberta Annan), The Adinkra Group, Year of Return, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (Parminder Vir, former CEO) and GUBA (Dentaa Amoateng MBE). International Black-African venture investor contributors included Maya Horgan Famodu, Eric Osiakwan, Jude Addo, Hannah Subayi, Evelyne Dioh, and Rodney Sampson.
With over 40 virtual panels, workshops, interviews, presentations, and artiste performances featuring seasoned experts from a wide range of fields, the well-received festival shone a spotlight on bottom-up policy frameworks, tech, agriculture and creative industry opportunities as well as business insights from African music labels, artistes and professionals from around the world and served as an avenue for global, African and Diaspora conversations around bridging the racial wealth gap and the need to provide better, longer term support for Black and African Entrepreneurs
In addition to the need to integrate market research, data and analytics, there were also calls for more support for entrepreneurship development and acceleration service providers from government, corporations and international development partners.
“Africa supports over 400 companies that generate revenues over $1bn. Entrepreneurship is an important element of Leadership and brings with it a certain level of power that comes with financial independence. I applaud ScaleUp Africa for their efforts and for mastering technology so well to pull off an event of this calibre and global reach,” expressed Teresa Clarke, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Africa.com during the opening keynote address.
Bohani Hlungwane, Absa Group’s Head of Sales for Trade reiterated the need for “more support for Business Development Service Organisations.”
Attendees were encouraged to study macro-trends like digitalisation, self-reliant agriculture, tech and industrialisation as a way to boost their chances of growth and sustainable business success. Investors also shared their insights about their current deals in Africa during the Pandemic.
Tomi Davies, an African Angel Investment veteran of African Business Angel Network (ABAN) said: ”Corporations must understand that one of the best ways to innovate is to tap into the early stage entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is not to be viewed as old fashioned CSR or Charity. Engaging with and supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem should be viewed as an integral part of Innovation, R&D and overall Strategy.”
”We must all lend a hand to support this effort and encourage more boards to report on entrepreneurship and innovation programmes as part of their Environmental, Social and Governance metrics,” added Joe Mensah, former President of the American Chamber of Commerce, Ghana and Senior VP, Country Director of KOSMOS Energy Ghana.
“Let’s build up the trust, systems and partnerships required to grow better performing, job-creating businesses while delivering on social impact. There’s an entire community of entrepreneurial leaders that have built world-class talent, tech and solutions from Africa and beyond but it’s important to connect them to distribution channel opportunities that governments and corporations hold the keys to,” stated Amma Gyampo, co-founder of ScaleUp Africa on the importance of events like IGNITE Entrepreneurship Growth Festival.
“The ecosystem has so much value, data, insights, new business models and potential solutions to offer that can only improve upon Development and Leadership outcomes. We are advocating for deeper engagement to promote the growth of our most cutting edge small businesses.”
”ScaleUp Africa has truly set the bar for curating such impactful virtual international convening of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. We just witnessed a powerful, well-organised Africa-focused virtual business event and we’re very proud to have been able to sponsor such a historic event,” shared Einstein Ntim, CEO of Global StartUp Ecosystem, the main sponsors of the festival.
IGNITE Entrepreneurship Growth Festival was organized by Scale Up Africa, an entrepreneurship advisory and business support firm.