Bearing witness to Africa’s startup revolution

Posted on December 7th, 2016
blue Africa map in origami style

“What if I told you that the future of the world is being built in Africa right now? Sounds like a pretty out there idea right?” says Marcello Schermer echoing the sentiment that Mark Zuckerberg, the American founder of Facebook shared during his visit to the continent earlier this year.

“This is not the Africa that you often hear about right?” asks Schermer to the audience during his talk given at a TEDx event in Vienna, Austria in August this year.

There is no one African story, says Schermer. The one he tells is one he says he saw first hand; the incredible growth of African startups and entrepreneurs, or as he calls it – Africa’s startup revolution.

Three years ago Schermer flew to Zimbabwe to join a five-day bus trip where they worked with local and international entrepreneurs to help build businesses on the road between Harare, Zimbabwe and Cape Town, South Africa.

“What I learnt from the trip completely blew me away, and changed my perspective on entrepreneurship on the continent forever,” says Schermer.

“Inspired by local talent, the passion, the drive, the opportunity that I saw on the trip, I decided to quit my job and join an organisation called Seedstars.”

Schermer is regional manager Africa at Seedstars World SA, an organisation which works to find, connect and invest in startups in emerging markets, their goal is to find the continent’s best fintech entrepreneurs.


Marcello Schermer

The African continent with its population of 1.1billion is the world’s youngest continent with a median age of 19 years, and represents the world’s fastest growing economy, says Schermer.

“[This] represents an incredible opportunity for young people to reinvent how things are done locally, but also reinvent how things are done for the rest of the world”

In his TedTalk, Schermer highlights 4 African startups that are part of the revolution. They are: Asoriba, a church management platform founded by Ghanaian entrepreneurs; the Rwandan governments’ drone system which is being used to deliver urgent medical supplies; Black Box TV, a Mozambican TV steaming device designed for the emerging markets which does not require reliable access to the internet and Lagos-based Hello Tractor, a company that allows rural farmers to share tractors. An Uber for tractors.”

WATCH: To hear Africa’s startup evolution and how the innovative ways that African startups are solving some of the continent’s and world’s biggest problems.