Sramana Mitra: How many entrepreneurs are operating in Nigeria right now?
Osayi Igharo: That’s hard to estimate.
Sramana Mitra: Just to give you a proxy, India is a country with 1.3 billion people. I think there are more than 10,000 startups in the country right now. It’s not easy to get to those numbers.
In America, 70,000 to 100,000 seed-financings are happening. This is a country of 300 million people. The numbers are completely different. It takes a lot of time and work from the ecosystem to get to that critical mass.
Osayi Igharo: Very true. That’s what we’re working very hard on. It’s not just Ripple. There are other ventures and angel networks working very hard. Our mission is to strengthen the African startup ecosystem.
Sramana Mitra: All of you VCs operating in Africa are focusing primarily in Nigeria then?
Osayi Igharo: Not necessarily. There is a strong focus in South Africa as well. Again, just because the majority of the companies come out of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, it’s not uncommon to find VCs focused on those areas.
Sramana Mitra: Give us a couple of examples of companies that you have invested in. Tell us what is it about them that is interesting and exciting.
Osayi Igharo: I can’t disclose too much. There are few interesting companies. One Nigerian company enables businesses to build and deploy AI-powered apps with facial recognition and object detection. Their ability to do that offline is really significant because not every device is connected to the internet.
Africa is a big piece of land. It’s difficult to assume that the entire continent would be covered with internet. They do security and warehousing, movements of equipment.
Sramana Mitra: That should be doable. If it’s a B2B application, the connectivity should not be an issue.
Osayi Igharo: With the offline one, it could be out in the rural areas. Some businesses apply these technologies in more remote areas where access to the internet isn’t readily available.
Sramana Mitra: I would just scrap all that and focus on the B2B security application and just work on that. You could build up to a certain amount of revenue with that. That’s all I would do.
Osayi Igharo: That’s my favorite aspect of it for sure. They also have a bunch of companies who are beating down the doors. There’s another company out of South Africa. They use consumer purchase data to provide retailers and market insight providers with predictive analytics, profiling, targeted marketing, and price optimization. They’re building this out and doing tremendously well.
Sramana Mitra: On the flipside, are businesses in Africa buying technologies readily? You’re giving all these examples of B2B software. Are the buyers ready?
Osayi Igharo: They are. These companies are already generating revenues.
Sramana Mitra: It’s exciting to hear about what’s happening in Africa. It’s a ballooning population. In the next decade, there should be an enormous opportunity. Thank you for your time.
This segment is part 2 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Osayi Igharo at Ripple Venture Capital