Meet The Lions: An Emerging Africa Partnership

The world economic forum was held between 9-11th may 2012 in Ethiopia and was well attended with over 700 leaders from 70 countries in attendance. The roll call was impressive, the reason for the forum- engaging and training the future. The potential Africa possesses can not be understated, countries like China have realized this and instead of making Africa a charity case, the republic of China is partnering with African countries with investments.

Africa’s GDP is estimated to be 2.6 trillion dollars and with the population explosion and mass migration to urban areas, it is forecasted to increase as African economies are among the top fast growing economies in the world, with the growth of innovation and business hubs in Lagos, Accra and Nairobi. What is the government doing to aid emerging businesses? What are the private companies doing?

For example in Nigeria, are there any tax incentives for new businesses? Oil companies are getting subsidies, why not the SMEs? There is a lack of opportunity for the average Nigerian with the idea, the four keys to the future: Education, Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Digital and Financial literacy. Comparing the Entrepreneurship index- Nigeria is said to be 2.7 while the United states of America is 2.8. So Africa doesn’t have a bleak future after all, rather talent needs to connect with opportunity.

To accelerate the success of information communication and tech start ups in Africa, the private-public Alliance came up with the LIONS which means Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations to strengthen the capacity of newly created African firms, entrepreneurs and innovation to train, exchange programs and business incubation to assist them to grow thus to sustain and reach their full potential. Under the scheme, selected start ups will be given an opportunity to present their business plans to prominent African entrepreneurs and business executives to secure capital investments up to $100,000.

This platform will help accelerate the success of entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups on the continent, and to provide promising young African developers and innovators access technology tools, skills and resources they need to realize their full potential. The venture is jointly funded by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), African Development Bank, Microsoft, Nokia, World Bank’s infoDev program, DEMO and Startup Weekend and will fund approximately 80 to 100 African techpreneurs and link them with successful entrepreneurs and expert investors from the US and the region.

Planned activities for the partnership include a series of programs across the continent featuring promising African start-ups and entrepreneurs as well as venture capital roundtables and innovation boot camps, and Startup Weekend events in over 20 African cities.

LIONS AFRICA will also launch the first-ever DEMO Africa, a global platform to connect African start-ups to the global ecosystem, where the most innovative companies from African countries will come to launch their products and announce to Africa and the world what they have developed.  The event will also act as a platform for companies outside the region looking to launch in the African market.

DEMO, world-renowned for launching the most innovative companies in enterprise, mobile, cloud computing, consumer, social media and disruptive technologies will be held in Africa between October 24-26, 2012 at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. DEMO Africa 2012 allows for a collaborative environment where leading minds and companies from African nations can come together to gain exposure on a global level.

DEMO’s partnership with LIONS AFRICA will also feature Meet the Lions, a competition of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world’s largest celebration of innovators who launch startups that bring ideas to life and drive economic growth. Selected African start-ups will be given the opportunity to present their business plans to prominent African entrepreneurs and business executives in an effort to secure investments.

Applications are currently being accepted for companies to launch products at DEMO Africa 2012. All interested organizations should submit initial company information via the “Apply Now” button at www.demo.com.

For more information on the partnership and sponsorship opportunities visit meetthelions.org or follow on Twitter @lionsafrica.

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