VC4Africa history and update current operations

VC4Africa was started as a LinkedIn group in the spring of 2008 and has grown organically into what is now the largest online community dedicated to Venture Capital in Africa. The VC4Africa community (vc4africa.com) and related platforms have always been free for anyone to join, and the entire network and its content remain open and accessible.

Currently the community can be found on social networking platforms like LinkedIn (+/- 3.900 members), LinkedIn Incubators (+/- 2.200), VC4Africa.com (+/- 3.300 members), VC4Africa.biz (+/- 3.400), Facebook Group (+/- 550 members) and Twitter (+/- 5.000). Members of the VC4Africa community use these social platforms to connect with other members and to exchange knowledge, information and contacts.

A core vision behind the project is that VC4Africa is only a platform within a larger social movement. Open communication and collaboration is encouraged and all members are invited to become active participants in both growing and developing the project. This means members are encouraged to invite new members, post content, start discussions, initiate networking events and join the VC4Africa management team in a more concerted effort to grow, develop and evolve the concept. Every member is expected to contribute in some meaningful way.

A few key points that make VC4Africa unique:

SME Pipeline: Entrepreneurs crunch their venture by choosing icons that represent some of the standard answers that a business plan must provide. Members can vote for ventures and their input is used to rank the projects per country, stage of investment and sector. The output is a dynamic Digg.com style feed that sees the best projects rise to the top of their respective field so we can connect them with capital.

Matchmaking: Organizations and individuals interested in investing in African businesses are able to register their investment profile with VC4Africa. Once registered as an investor we can facilitate targeted e-mail updates with ‘high potentials’ that match their investment criteria. This is currently a manual process that we look to automate in the next phase of development.

Member initiated networking events: Second to networking online, VC4Africa makes use of the Barcamp model for events and organizes its own VC4Africa Meetups. Meetups have already been hosted in Johannesburg, Kampala, Nairobi, Kigali, Abuja, Lagos, Tunis, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, Leuven and London. See a video about a VC4Africa Meetup.

Open Source Approach: VC4Africa is an open source project built on open source software and anyone can contribute code to the VC4Africa platform. We are also working on an open Application Programming Interface (API) that would allow anyone to access VC4Africa data and repurpose it for their own use.

Officers Program: The VC4Africa community also initiated an Officers Program used to engage active members in running and building the network. Officers take on different tasks in managing the community and are responsible for specific functions i.e. someone that manages the blog, someone that invites new members on LinkedIn or is responsible for growing the network on Facebook. These individuals are instrumental to the vitality of the project and help spread the word virally through their own networks. Moreover, they bring in new ideas and make valuable contributions that help define the scope and focus of the project. To this extent VC4Africa only builds what members demand.

Want to get involved? Has VC4Africa been useful to you in any way? Do you have a venture you would like to promote/share with the community? Please reach out and share your ideas and experiences with us!

ben / ben@vc4africa.com
Posted By Ben White