It Can’t Hurt to Think [Sustainable Development Dialogues – Rio+20 Dialogues]

Here is the link to the vote page for the 10 topics of the Sustainable Development Dialogues, or Rio+20 Dialogues, each containing 10 recommendations. Click the arrow on the right of a bar to expand and collapse topics, and mark a vote by clicking on the check to the left of a recommendation. You may vote for as many recommendations and in as many topics as you wish. When you are done, submit your votes at the bottom of the page!

or Rio+20: Turn the Tide for Our Ocean | Pew and ZSL

Ben White: Crowdsourcing knowledge on doing business in Africa

Dear Members,

The VC4Africa Questions & Answers tool connects you to everything you want to know about doing business in Africa. It is a place for us to solve our problems and to share our own experience and knowledge with fellow members. We invite you to participate as we crowd source an open and accessible knowledge base for the space.

Business Models (8) –
Business Plans (3) –
Diaspora (3) –
Due Diligence (4) –
Finance (23) –
General focus (19) –
Government (2) –
Green Entrepreneurship (1) –
Investing (11) –
Legal (5) –
Marketing (4) –
Partners (5) –
Product Development (1) –
Resources (11) –
Sales (1) –
Social Entrepreneurship (11) –
Startups (9) –
Strategies (12) –

Kind regards and Happy Networking!
The VC4Africa Team
Posted By Ben White

Ben White: VC4Africa takes a look at the progress made in 2011

I think it is fair to say that 2011 was a good year for the VC4Africa community. What originally started as a Linkedin group has now grown into a thriving and productive network. This year we closed the old website and started a new chapter on

We now have more than 4.300 members who have opened personal profile pages on the new site and over 200 entrepreneurs stepped forward to crunch their venture online ( ). There are promising businesses making progress in over 30 African countries and we have seen members in Cameroon, South Africa, the United States, Kenya, Nigeria, the Netherlands and Somaliland establish partnerships, investments and joint ventures. Increasingly, VC4Africa featured entrepreneurs are being picked up by global media channels like Forbes and BBC World. We have opened a new thread where members are starting to share their successes as their continued progress remains our bottom line – as a community and organization ( ).

In the past months we have launched a number of new programs and resources VC4A entrepreneurs can tap into for support. For example, entrepreneurs are now calling in on Free Feedback Fridays ( ). These are sessions hosted by business experts and are useful for working through challenges faced in the business development process. We also hosted several Business Modeling Workshops and worked with entrepreneurs to practice and film their elevator pitches ( ). More recently, we launched the ( ) VC4Africa Mentorship Program that connects members for peer-to-peer coaching with some early successes already on the books. We also gave a facelift to the venture profiles and entrepreneurs can now post their video pitches online, one of the reasons ventures like ( ) Njorku are top ranked all time. In the year ahead we will be doing even more to support our entrepreneurs as they champion their ventures.

Our team is constantly working to introduce new tools and services that further improve the VC4A networking experience. To foster more effective network building we launched our own ‘dating widget’ that matches members on the basis of complimentary skill sets and forwards recommended connections. How do you tap into a global network spread across 159 countries? This past year saw the release of ( ) Questions & Answers as a tool for crowdsourcing knowledge from across the member base. There are now 68 open threads and 128 responses. We also launched dedicated groups that allow members to come together around a specific country or theme. Some notable groups we look forward to growing in 2012 include ( ) Green Entrepreneurship, ( ) the Social Entrepreneur, ( ) VC4Africa Mentors and ( ) VC4A Woman Entrepreneurs.

Far and away, one of the greatest projects we launched this past year was VC4A Badges. Building great companies and an effective network of contacts is a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun. With great looking badges we look to recognize your milestones and contributions along the way. See an overview of all of the badges and keep your eye out for new ones :) ( )

Editor: Got me my nifty VC4Africa Officer Badge Rightcheer; woohoo!:

VC4Africa Officer Badger

VC4Africa Officer Badger

We will continue to listen to your feedback and build the tools that enrich your time spent with VC4A ( ).

These developments aside, VC4Africa had a great year because we have such great members. People who believe in the continent’s potential and want to see its best entrepreneurs succeed. It is remarkable to see more than 30 VC4Africa meetups organized by members from around the world. We already have great events online for 2012 starting with Accra, Oslo and London.

Certainly Africa is a great business opportunity and we all agree the time to make it happen is NOW.

The best part about all of this? We’re just getting started :)

VC4Africa nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award [Please vote and repost]

VC4Africa wants to initiate a shift to business as a key tool in the development of the continent. The VC4Africa social network is aimed at investors and entrepreneurs seeking sustainable businesses in Africa. 1.9 million African persons operate online. 43% of the African population is under 14 years old. This rapidly growing open platform, has members from over 250 countries, and meet ups worldwide.

Please see and|or

Request for Information: Jobs4TN Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerator

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development INCITE Initiative


Governor Bill Haslam announced the Jobs4TN plan in April 2011 to accomplish his goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.  As the state’s primary economic development agency, the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) has been charged by the Governor with overseeing the successful implementation of the plan.  Jobs4TN is a comprehensive plan built around four strategies, one of which is investing in innovation. The Department’s primary innovation effort is the INCITE Initiative, which stands for INnovation, Commercialization, Investment, Technology and Entrepreneurship.  INCITE’s goal is to elevate Tennessee’s profile in innovation-based economic development and drive economic growth via the creation of knowledge-based jobs.  As part of INCITE, the Department will be overseeing a competitive grant process to provide funding to an entrepreneurial business accelerator in each of the state’s nine “Jobs Base Camp” regions, as defined in the Jobs4TN plan.  The goal of the business accelerators is to nurture and support entrepreneurs as they develop business plans and launch companies that have the potential to create a large number of high-wage jobs.  Prior to issuing this grant application, the Department is issuing this request for information (RFI) to gather information that will inform the grant process.


The Department of Economic and Community Development requests information on the following questions:

1. How should the success of a business accelerator be measured after one, two, and three years?

2. What are best practices in recruiting, training, and supporting entrepreneurs as they go through a business accelerator program?

3. What partnerships should a successful business accelerator form (e.g., with businesses, investors, governments, educational institutions)?

4. How should a business accelerator be governed?

5. Over what time period and using what strategies should a business accelerator be expected to become financially self-sustaining?

6. How, if at all, do successful business accelerators in rural areas differ from successful business accelerators in urban areas?

7. How should the grant applications for the regional business accelerators be scored?  What individuals should be part of the scoring process?

8. Please provide any additional advice you have that might inform the State’s competitive grant process for regional business accelerators.

Responses must be received on or before July 15, 2011.


Responses must be submitted in written format via mail or email to:

Ryan Gooch, Innovation Director

Tennessee Tower, 11th Floor

312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue Nashville, TN 37243

Office: (615) 741-1294

Twitter: @investtennessee

Responses to this RFI are not considered to be offers and cannot be accepted by the State of Tennessee to form a binding contract or issue a grant.  Information obtained as a result of this RFI may be used by the State toward program planning on a non-attribution basis.  Do not include any information that may be considered proprietary or confidential


NUANCE Call for Articles

NUANCE is a monthly e-newsletter published by UbuntuNet Alliance. Key content  is news from, about, or of interest to National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Africa. We request and invite you to submit an item before the 20th of each month capturing:

News and developments from your NREN and news items of interest to NRENs
Content networks: how researchers and academics are using the REN infrastructure to enhance effectiveness and efficiency their work and to promote national and international collaboration
Hot tips about something you have done successfully (organisational or technical)
A photo that tells a story
Looking into the future, especially with regards to fibre infrastructure

Submissions should be sent to

Tech4Africa 2011 Set to Impress, 27 to 28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg

A world-class line-up of international and African technologists will present at the Tech4Africa conference in October this year. The event provides South Africans with a rare opportunity to learn firsthand from technology evangelists about the role that the web plays in African business and development.

The two-day conference runs from 27 to 28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg and will bring international experience and perspectives to the African continent, while at the same time showcasing what Africans are doing with mobile, web, digital media and other emerging technologies.

“2010 saw the launch of Tech4Africa and we were met with overwhelming support from both the tech and business communities and our foundation partners, First National Bank and Internet Solutions,” says Gareth Knight, MD of Tech4Africa. “This year we’re delivering the same high standard of content and looking forward to bringing technologists together to look at what’s current now, with an emphasis on social media and how it’s relevant to digital marketing, mobile convergence, the growing cloud and the applications of BigData. We’re also focusing on great African technologists that really are leading the way.”

Keynote speakers include Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, and Herman Chinery-Hesse, commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’.

Spear is a trend spotter, blogger and brand strategist, sought out for his fresh perspective and no-holds-barred style of consulting on everything from design and gadgets to authenticity and word-of-mouth. His recent focus has been the power of the blogosphere, technology, and the impact of digital media on the world. In addition to his internationally recognised trend-spotting blog, he is a founding partner of Undercurrent, a digital think-tank focused on exploring new ways to reach young people without interrupting them. With Africa rapidly leapfrogging the web and PC experience with a mobile one, the insights into how people and brands interact digitally is crucial, and indeed sets the stage for the foreseeable future. Spear has appeared in publications including Time Magazine, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune and has presented for such diverse clients as McDonald’s, NBC, Pepsi, Virgin, The American Advertising Federation and The Google Zeitgeist conference.

Chinery-Hesse is a renowned Ghanaian technology entrepreneur who co-founded the million-dollar software company SOFTtribe, and then went on to launch BSL, which provides the infrastructure for entrepreneurs across Africa to sell products and receive payment through their cell phones. Chinery-Hesse is passionate about the contribution that technology can make in unlocking prosperity and wealth across Africa, and will be presenting his thesis on this. He has won a number of awards and is also an accomplished speaker who has delivered talks at the Wharton Business School, Harvard Business School, Cambridge University, the University of Ghana, and the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania.

Spear and Chinery-Hesse are part of a line-up of African and international thought leaders from organisations like Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, SimpleGeo, Motribe, Clearleft, Ultinet Systems and many more.

Knight adds, “With Tech4Africa our simple aim is to congregate the best practitioners in Africa and the world to provide inspiration, guidance, case studies, success stories and ultimately experience, so that Africans don’t need to travel the world to gain this understanding and exposure.”.

Registration for the event is open and early bird tickets are available until 10th of June. For further information or to register, visit, or to contact Tech4Africa, email or visit

VC4Africa Buea and Douala Meetups, May 4 & 6

Dear Members,

As you might know, VC4Africa is partnering with ActivSpaces to organize the first VC4Africa meetups in Cameroon. This is another first for the community and we invite you to join us on the 4th of May in Buea ( and again on the 6th of May in Douala (
These events build on previous meetups organized in Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali, Johannesburg, Lagos, Abuja, Tunis, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and Leuven. Most recently was saw meetups in Virginal and Senegal.
In the area? Make sure to sign up and join us!!
Ben White & Team

VC4Africa starts the first African online venture capital matchmaking platform [Update]

Dear members,

We are in a unique position to promote the continent’s most promising individuals (and their brilliant ideas) with the network, knowledge and capital they need to succeed in challenging circumstances. When local governments and institutions turn a blind idea, banks refuse to open their doors and micro-finance institutions can’t offer the right capital, our global network is there to fill the gap. And thankfully our peer-2-peer platform goes beyond capital and offers a lot of the information and support entrepreneurs need to put it to good use.

As part of this mission we launched an innovative matchmaking platform We are still working through an incredible ‘to do list’ and have a host of exciting partnerships, features and programs in the works, but it’s great to see that our early infrastructure is already having some meaningful impact. Most importantly, we can say our entrepreneurs are securing funding and finding partners needed to grow and scale their business. Rick, the founder of , an online craft market similar to the more renowned, was one of the first to close an investment round via

He writes, “Hi Ben, We finally finished our investment round and once again, thank you for the great platform. It really is the best out there, as we found a lot of fraudulent sites on the web claiming to help angel investors and entrepreneurs connect.” He goes on to explain, “As web entrepreneurs, we found the going tough as a startup and tried a lot of avenues to get initial investment including venture capital firms in South Africa, other online investment platforms and more with absolutely no luck. The problem was that 1.) we we’re a startup so a venture capital company with a minimum mandate of R50million was never going to look at us and 2.) every investment platform that we found (paid) would send (the guaranteed) connection via a random yahoo or gmail account which gave us hope, only to crush it again later. VC4Africa helped us connect (for free) to an investor we found within 3 days of being on the site, and created a platform where we could connect easily and without hidden agenda. Thank you VC4Africa, you are the only true investment platform.” Market-Fleas is not alone and iYam mobi and a few other ventures are now in discussions with possible investors so it’s good to see more deals are in the works.

Other members don’t require funding and are finding the strategic partners they need to expand their business instead. Brian, the founder of Next2.Us writes, “Your website has been very helpful to me. I was able to connect to a company that wants to represent Next2.Us geosocial sms network throughout Africa. We have executed a Framework Agreement and are finalizing a relationship with a SMS provider that will allow Next2.Us Africa to offer our geosocial network service in Kenya.” Following his developments on twitter @hungrygarden it’s great to see they are now engaging local developers to test the service now live!

I think we are just scratching the surface of what is possible and already we have 86 ventures online from more than 20 African countries. What is really exciting is to see the diversity of projects across countries and sectors. If you are en entrepreneur working on a great project and in need of support feel free to reach out and connect with our network. You can sign up as a member on and visit the Ventures section where you can post your project.
Posted By Ben White

# # # #

November 9th 2010 – Today VC4Africa starts the first African online venture capital matchmaking platform at

Many investors are looking for businesses to get involved with but have difficulties finding promise. At the same time many businesses seek knowledge, capital and practical support. Without matchmaking their potential is never realized, hindering economic growth.

The VC4Africa community currently consists of 10.000 members worldwide. Business ideas have been registered through the website and entrepreneurs are seeing benefit. VC4Africa works to visualize the continent’s business potential. VC4Africa has the ultimate goal to contribute to a paradigm shift focusing on transparency and entrepreneurship as a leading agents for development. VC4Africa wants to become the one-stop shop for African business development.

VC4Africa is a truly global initiative with the team working from Cameroon, Kenya, The Netherlands and the USA. Events (or what the community calls VC4Africa Meetups) have already been hosted in Kigali, Kampala, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Tunis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, London and Amsterdam.

Due diligence is a limitation factor for investors interested in Africa. It costs too much time and capital to find genuine entrepreneurs with a solid business idea and plan. As a result, most existing funds seek large deals and better margins. MicroCredit is limited in its ability to support high growth businesses, this results in entrepreneurs with potential, struggling on the sideline.

VC4Africa solves these issues by applying innovative technology that leverages the power of the crowd. Anyone anywhere in the world is able to positively contribute to the development of African businesses with their own competencies and interests.

Open up! Now is the time. Let’s connect!

About VC4Africa
VC4Africa is an initiative by Ben White (Founder, Amsterdam), Bill Zimmerman (Founder ActivSpaces, Cameroon) and Bart Lacroix (Founder 1%Club, Amsterdam).

VC4Africa is an online community dedicated to connecting innovative, Africa-based entrepreneurs (and their ideas) with access to knowledge, markets and capital— i.e. mentors, business partners and investors. The focus is on entrepreneurs with innovative projects that apply new technology, new media, the web, mobile and green energy.

Contact Details

For more information contact: Ben White
Telephone number: +31 (0)6 29 227 200
Twitter: @VC4Africa

Time for catching up



# # # # March 4, 2011 # # # #

Haven’t been blogging much personal stuff lately — tweetin’ and Facing mainly (@ed_dodds, @conmergence, @project_network). HIMSS11 has happened; didn’t attend but really looking forward to news out of the 9th Annual Medical Banking Project sponsored Institute, especially the working being done by John Casillas, Jim St. Clair and Eric Cohen on things XBRLish as relates to healthcare and the World Bank/World Health Organization/global health related tangent re: mobile money, mHealth, and mPayments which Angela Dunbar is patiently encouraging. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the work that John Phelan and June St. John and a cast of other visionaries are producing, but let’s be honest about where my passion is ;)

Got news this week that vc4africa completed the first venture capital funding deal ( Ben White et. al. are to be commended for taking the world wide web and making it an asset for African entrepreneurs.

Takeshi Utsumi’s Global University collaboration initiative chugs along as he seeks to extend the Global Early Warning System (GEWS) concept to African nations as the global broadband build out enables cluster clouds to crunch big data virtually anywhere.

Mental Placeholder links here:

The Cloud-Enabled Space Weather Platform

ESG Gateway at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

The Earth System Grid – Center for Enabling Technologies

Ranger Supercomputer Supports Microclimate Forecasting

The majority of the World Convention site rework has been completed. Some tweaking will be on-going. Julia Keith as the hub of cyber activities around Global Women Connecting has been enthusiastic about adopting and extending “all things over IP” comms tools and Gary Holloway continues to travel and meet folks from the global Campbell-Stone family of churches while facing the fundraising challenges all NPOs are dealing with (Deana’s staff [more like family, really] at United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee have this in spades with the consequences of the Nashville floods on area families and individuals who live with disabilities).

The Shepherds at Woodmont Hills have authorized an ad hoc committee to analyze and review all comms related activity that the congregation currently undergoes in hopes of “shepherding” all of our assets and processes into a more unified and effective approach re: our resources. I hope this will produce an “infrastructure” which will enable the Mission Committee to be as effective as possible re: it’s obligations to our various global colleagues.

“Open” groups continuing to grow on LinkedIn.

More folks investigating Results-Only Work Environments.

Interoperancy and hyperlocality affecting the eNews biz as well as the Edison-Carterification of smart phones and other similar devices.

Time to wade out of this stream of consciousness for awhile…

World Health Organization