Since the start of the Sonvela Social Impact Investing project I've been writing a lot. I do this because it helps me to clarify my thinking on the subjects around the project. When I write about something it creates a better understanding around the ideas and concepts I'm sharing. But also, since it's a unique project, totally new in our country, I feel that it's important to explain interested people what the project is all about.
I would like to see people who join me on this journey to be here for the long term, so I'm doing what I can to show people exactly what it is I see happening in the long term. I want you to understand, imagine and feel what the opportunity is that I've been focusing on for the past 9 months. The plan I have is one for 20 years, so it's not about you joining me today or tomorrow. I'll be here next year or in five years as well, if you're ready to join me then.
In the mean time, I've collected a few quotes and articles that I think are very helpful if you wish to get a better understanding of (a part of) the Sonvela Social Impact Investing project, beyond what I've written so far. These are quotes and articles that helped me create the overall investment thesis and approach for Sonvela Social Impact Investing.
What are the most important problems in your field? And why aren't you working on them? - Richard Hamming
It's all about this quote for me. Although I was already working on the project when I found it, this is the moment that everything clicked in my head. It's when I knew what it was that I was trying to do, but on a high level. If we really want to achieve lasting impact we need to work on solving hard problems. There is simply no way around it.
“We have to encourage greater African investment. Only 28% of start-up funding in Africa comes from Africa(ns).” – Rebecca Enonchong, ABAN Angels co-founder
“We need foreign investors in Africa, no doubt about that. But we need them in partnership not in leadership.” – Tomi Dee, ABAN Angels president
These first two quotes are by ABAN founders. ABAN Angels is an organisation that promotes smart local investment for promising entrepreneurs across Africa.
For me, this second quote can be applied to what we see today in both tourism and commerce in our country. I think the part of 'leadership' in foreign investments mr. Dee refers to in his quote leads to, in our case, Cape Verdean labor at most. Without Cape Verdean ownership we will have little to no control when it comes to different subjects.
“A nation without productive youths is a nation without hope, and a nation without hope is a nation without future.” – Bamigboye Olurotimi
In a country with (local) youth unemployment of up to 25%, it is no surprise we see people that feel lost. Also, for a very big part of young people the only jobs within reach are those paying minimum wage or just above the minimum. This means a salary of a bit more than € 100 a month. A salary that simply allows someone to survive, leaving no room for dreams and a future.
A lot is said about young people in Cape Verde, and their responsibility. The situation in the country has made a large group indifferent when it comes to their future, due to the poor outlook. I believe that instead of criticising this group, although sometimes well deserved, we should look at how we can invest in them across all sectors in the country.
“Make your portfolio reflect your best vision for our future. Always be thinking ahead. Be optimistic. Think about the world that you want to create, because sure enough your dollars and mine, our capital, is helping change the world.” – David Gardner
This is one I'm currently working one. I'm not interested in creating a type of VC model where I invest on behalf of people. What I'm looking for is people to invest along side of me. By 2022 I would like to have build a portfolio of 10-15 businesses, with the bigger part being tech companies that I believe will play a big part in Cape Verde's future.
Not because of the opportunity to make money, but because there is a real chance here to change the future of our country, and the future of thousands of young Cape Verdeans.
“Technological progress is the most important thing we can do for broad-based prosperity and economic growth.” – Balaji Srinivasan
Balaji Srinivasan is one of the most interesting thinkers I've ever encountered. I love reading about his ideas about our future and how it will all look in a few decades. This quote is important to me because it is exactly what I want to achieve in the coming years in Cape Verde. Technology makes many things easier, faster and cheaper, creating new opportunities that have the power to democratise anything. It is a quote that fills me with hope for the future.
These are links to a few pieces of writing that are crucial if you truly want to understand what it is I'm working towards when it comes to tech & startups in our country. I've read these articles over and over myself, and they have helped me so much in the first few months of the project when I had to figure out where I wanted to go and why. I will be reading these pieces again.
Marc Andreessen is a legend in the tech world. He was part of the creation of one of the world's first web browsers, called Netscape. Today he runs one of the largest Venture Capital firms of the world with his partner Ben Horowitz. Marc's writing is prolific, and he has been described as the man of the future. The piece 'Software is Eating the world' is legendary, as it describes what is happening in the world today, while it was written almost ten years ago.
The 'It's time to build' article was written by Marc in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, and spoke about the need for builders to focus on large problems. Marc addresses his concerns about seeing so many consumer tech products, and little solutions being designed for the health care sector (among others).
Software is eating the world - Marc Andreessen (A16Z)
It is time to Build - Marc Andreessen (A16Z)
Dawn Dickson, founder and CEO of Popcom, has made a name for herself in the tech scene by being the first black woman to have raised over $ 1 million dollars through equity crowdfunding.
Her thesis of micro angels being the future of startup funding is something that fits perfectly within what I'm trying to accomplish and my own thesis of business funding in our country. I've been looking into different trends within the business world when it comes to investing, and can see a few very interesting things that can have a large impact on how we start and grow important businesses in Cape Verde.
Micro Angel investors are the future of startup funding - Dawn Dickson (PopCom)
This last link comes back to my worries of having a tech industry in Cape Verde which could be in the hands of foreign investors. Two quotes in this overview speak about the lack of African investment within tech, and with that the lack of ownership (and control). A Financial Times article titled “Are tech companies Africa's new colonialists” (currently unfortunately only for subscribers), addressed the issue of heavy foreign tech investments.
According to the FT these investments can be seen as another form of control from both the US and Europe across the continent. The Guardian even published an article describing how African startup entrepreneurs have trouble getting funded within their own continent, while 'outsiders' have much less issues with bringing in investors for their startup ventures. A very concerning situation.