GOLD ROOM BRIEFINGS

Each year African innovators sign the Harambe Declaration in the historic Gold Room of the Mount Washington Hotel, thereby pledging “to work together as one to pursue the social, political and economic development of our continent ”. In this spirit, Gold Room Briefings chronicles the progress of our collective endeavor to build Africa’s future.
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As COVID-19 metastasizes into an economic and financial crisis, entrepreneurs throughout Africa’s nascent start-up landscape are increasingly facing an unprecedented threat, one that stands to eliminate 80% of non-VC backed ventures on the continent. To enable entrepreneurs to adapt and thrive, the Harambeans Prosperity Initiative is equipping African innovators in the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance with expertise and capital.
The global Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has resulted in unprecedented economic turmoil and devastation affecting businesses, lives and livelihoods in nearly every country on earth. It has, however, importantly illustrated the power of the human spirit and the reserves of resilience and grit of so many to persevere and survive. The Harambean network of African entrepreneurs has more than ever used the power of its network to adapt and thrive during this crisis. 
In today’s episode, we feature venture capitalist, Pardon Makumbe, the co-founder of CRE Venture Capital. CRE partners with visionary entrepreneurs who are building category-defining tech companies in Africa. They leverage their capital, relationships and experience to position the teams they work with for outsized success.
On September 14, 2019, Harambeans Founder, Okendo Lewis-Gayle, revealed at the Vatican that MAX and Releaf Group were the two inaugural co-investments of the Harambeans Prosperity Fund. Alongside YCombinator, Yamaha and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Harambeans Prosperity Fund invested $100,000 into each Harambean-led startup. Seeded by Cisco, with a multimillion dollar gift, the Harambeans Prosperity Fund is a rules-based co-investment vehicle, which aims to accelerate the growth of Harambean-led ventures, build a coalition of like-minded investors and secure the long-term financial viability of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance. 
The African continent and its people are typically portrayed through the conflict, poverty and disease that millions of its people experience. In September, thanks to JCDecaux, residents and tourists in the Eternal City of Rome had the opportunity to experience an alternative narrative – that of highly competitive African entrepreneurs on a mission to change Africa’s fortunes through their innovative business ventures.
The Harambean community gathered at the Vatican in September for its fifth biennial forum to reaffirm its pledge to work together as one to build Africa’s future. Vatican Radio released a special on the event featuring an interview of Harambeans Founder, Okendo Lewis-Gayle, and a greeting to the Harambeans by Pope Francis.
Market-creating innovations develop new growth engines for companies and create entirely new industries upon which economies can build and thrive. They transform complex and expensive products into simple and more affordable products, making them accessible to a whole new segment of people in a society who have not been able to buy a product or service simply because it was not affordable or accessible to them. Market-creating innovators find a way to change that and in the process, create new markets. They represent the best version of capitalism: both consumers and companies win.
“Serious people laughed at me when I told them I wanted to build a telecommunications network in Africa twenty years ago. They told me all the reasons the project would never succeed,” Mo Ibrahim recalls of the reaction he got when he shared his plans to build a pan-African mobile phone company 20 years ago. “Somehow I just kept thinking, I know there are challenges but why can’t they see the opportunity?”
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