The two-day virtual event will bring together entrepreneurs, investors and lawyers to celebrate the best in African tech innovation and discuss the issues and trends that will shape the continent’s start-up industry in a post-Covid world.
“The event will look at what problems start-ups face and the innovation that can answer those challenges – how do they raise money in this setting, how do they handle their contracting issues and how do they make their operations more professional to make it more attractive for investors to be involved,” says Irene Eyogyiire, a partner at Bytelex. “That’s what makes us different from the rest – we’re at the connection point between innovation, finance and law, and we have the insights into what these technology start-ups are facing.”
One of the biggest issues tech start-ups face in Africa is access to funding. Next.Legal will give founders and entrepreneurs insights into how financing is evolving and what is important for investors, says Bytelex managing partner Raymond Asiimwe. Likewise, Next.Legal will also offer investors the guidance and access to local expertise they need to give them the confidence to provide funding for African start-ups.
“Next.Legal will give investors insight into what the realities are on the ground and advice on how deals should be done,” he says. “Sometimes investors come from Europe or North America, but they don’t have that context about what is on the ground, so we’re offering that context.”
That context will help investors understand what Bytelex calls ‘an integrated ecosystem built on radical ideas’. This is the premise that Africa’s start-up scene is deeply interconnected, creating a cross-border support network for different commercial needs and ideas to flourish. Rwanda, for instance, provides a forward-thinking regulatory backdrop for developing and testing new technologies; Kenya is home to a number of venture capitalist and private equity firms that are ready to invest in African start-ups; and in Uganda there is a growing community of businesses looking to make a social impact.
“The Next.Legal event is about recognising that ecosystem and bringing it together to trade bold ideas – each country has something special about them that makes the ecosystem work,” says Asiimwe.
The conference will feature a host of expert speakers, including Damilola Thompson from Nigeria-based venture capital firm EchoVC Partners, which provides seed, early-stage and growth capital for tech companies in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. She will be talking about how start-up financing will look in a post-Covid era from a venture capitalist perspective.
Thompson will feature alongside other investment specialists, including Larry Yon from B&C International – the first African-American business consulting firm in the US – who will be speaking on a panel about diaspora capital.
“This will look at how the diaspora can be leveraged to be involved in financing these start-up companies,” says Asiimwe.
Bytelex will also use Next.Legal to unveil two new financing products that will build on the launch of Shield at last year’s event, an early-stage financing instrument that gives investors a consistent legal framework to invest in African start-ups more efficiently and with confidence.
“We set out last year to create a benchmark financing instrument for early stage companies and received quite a lot of feedback from startups, venture builders, investors and lawyers. This year we have returned with two (2) other financing instruments they represent current early stage financing trends from stakeholders in the ecosystem.” Says Martin
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