“Because we are Africans, empathy for African entrepreneurs is very natural and we understand better their needs than most of the Western actors.”
Emerging Markets Account for 90% of the Global Population Aged Under 30 and will dominate world economy by 2050, with Africa being home to both the youngest and the fastest growing economies. With investment money pouring into the continent, African entrepreneur and Somalian Haweya Mohamed realized that an organization would be needed to bridge the gap between foreign investors and African businesses. She co-founded Afrobytes as a way to ensure that investment funds didn’t fall flat and to help connect African startups with global markets.
A CONNECTION POINT
The Challenge – In the past three years, venture capital funding in Africa has seen rapid growth. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the funds from global investors rose by 53%. This is a 14 times growth multiple since 2012 in terms of amount invested. However, despite the increase in venture capital funds, three African countries — Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa — absorbed 76% of the total funding. The concerns with global investment in Africa echoes the concerns of development funds that have poured into the continent in the past, that a small number of countries will receive a disproportionate amount of the funds and that without help navigating the intricate nuances of African societies, a lot of the funds will be used inefficiently rather than achieving sustained growth for African economies.
The Process – As an African entrepreneur, Harambean Haweya Mohamed realized that an organization that could bridge the gap between venture capital firms and African businesses would minimize investment risks and help secure sustainable funding and growth. As fintech, E/M/S-commerce, and off-grid tech attracted the majority of venture capital funds, Mohamed decided to narrow her focus to the African tech sector. She launched Afrobytes with co-founder Ammin Youssouf to serve as a connection point between the African Tech Industry and other international communities. As tech giants show growing interest in African markets, gold rush for African consumers speeds up.Despite the growth potential, investors, startups and established companies from Western countries don’t know how to land and develop their businesses in Africa. Afrobytes brings together tech enthusiasts, corporates, investors, startups, and media to accelerate the connection between the African tech industry and the other international tech ecosystems.
The Result – The learning experience has shown Mohamed that data from the tech industry is becoming one of the most valuable commodities in Africa. Changing the terms of discussion and placing African entrepreneurs in a solid position has made them first beneficiaries of the extraction and exploitation of this strategic raw material. As a result, Afrobytes now hosts the most influential tech event in Europe dedicated to the African tech industry. The company is based in Station F, which is the biggest startup campus in the world, and their events are attended by groups such as Alibaba, Google, and Facebook. From September 2017 until March 2018, Afrobytes internationalized its brand with events planned in London, New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. In 2017, the company expanded to include consultation services for Western companies. Both Mohamed and co-founder Youssouf were listed in the Top 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company in 2018 for the impact Afrobytes is creating.
ABOUT HAWEYA MOHAMED
Strengthening Africa’s Tech Ecosystem
Understanding the value of entrepreneurship early in life, Haweya Mohamed graduated from the Université Jussieu Paris VII and then later the ESSEC Business School with a focus on Entrepreneurial Studies. She went on to serve as the production assistant and communications manager at several companies before launching her own communications agency, HaweyaM. After connecting the dots between Africa’s tech sector and the increase of venture capital funds in the continent, she co-launched her most recent venture, Afrobytes.
Haweya Mohamed with co-founder Ammin Youssouf
Mohamed is well-positioned for her role as managing director and head of communications at Afrobytes. As Mohamed views it, her advantage of being both international and from Somalia means mainly two things: that she is familiar with the business environment and culture in Western countries where solid professional networks are built and that her empathy for African entrepreneurs is very natural and she is able to understand better their needs than most of the Western actors.
“I have always wanted to do something for and with my continent of origin. It took me a long time to position myself because a lot of people prevented me to do it.”
Mohamed has overcome those challenges and is now helping to build Africa’s future. In just two years Afrobytes has become a trusted brand in the African tech ecosystem dedicated to creating the best possible environment to accelerate the rise of the African Tech Industry. She also knows that in Africa women are at the frontline of education, agriculture, health and other sectors. She believes that they are also the ones able to create successful “problem solving” companies as long as we offer them the opportunity to embrace tech. Haweya advises top executive business leaders and influencers. As co-founder of Afrobytes, she uses her expertise to promote African brands and to impose new keywords to define it: Innovation, Mobile Technologies, Growth, and Women Tech Entrepreneurship.
I AM A HARAMBEAN
Haweya Mohamed is proud to share the strengths of the Harambean community: