As part of the celebrations to mark the 80th anniversary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Andreata Muforo is invited on 2 December to present TLcom during a series of live sessions dedicated to the concrete and innovative actions of AFD Group.
What are TLcom Capital’s activities?
Andreata Muforo : TLcom Capital invests in early to growth stage tech-enabled business across all stages on the venture capital cycle in Africa. Technology enables innovative business models to win in large underserved or inefficient African markets, where demand for products and services is already very material, but the supply side is currently not able to either serve all demand segments profitably. The TLcom Capital portfolio includes Twiga Foods in agritech, Andela in software developer talent, and uLesson in edtech, and Kobo360 in e-logistics, among others.
What is the relationship between TLcom Capital and Proparco?
A. M : Proparco was an early supporter and investor in 2017 in our Africa fund, TIDE Africa Fund, a critical role that allowed TLcom to raise capital at a time where there were few investors in Africa tech venture capital. Additionally, we have co-invested with Proparco in some of our portfolio companies.
How do you support innovative African start-ups?
AM : TLcom Capital supports Africa start-ups and scale ups by providing capital as part of a larger support to the entrepreneur which is centered on strategic, operational and financial mentoring for value generation. To date, over 2,200 direct jobs have been created and many more indirect jobs through the company activities. TLcom Capital also undertakes ecosystem support initiatives that includes: hosting CEO Summits a few times each year to connect founders to work together and exchange experiences around common relevant business building themes, and hosting an annual Africa Tech Female Founder Summit which brings together over 140 female founders to engage and connect with each other, plus conducting mentoring sessions for the founders with TLcom partners.
What are the main challenges facing these start-ups?
A. M : While the Africa tech ecosystem has shown significant growth in the last ten years evidenced by - increased capital into the continent, fairly rich dealflow pipeline including repeat entrepreneurs, and some M&A and IPO exits – challenges still remain. The main challenges faced by startups are around access to capital (locally based investors at the Series B stage as well as debt, both pure debt and venture debt) and talent (there is lack of a deep talent pool for both tech teams and C-level positions).
What are the development prospects for TLcom Capital?
A. M : Development initiatives must be sustainable, and this is achieved by implementing solutions which are locally driven with local ownership, and that significantly leverage the private sector. The projects need to integrate the voice of local communities and governments, so they feel a part of the work and become motivated to keep them operational. Secondly, while not an answer for everything, I believe that the enterprise is a development tool that can advance economies and raise income levels for families.