A man of Eritrean descent trotting the world to offer consultancy on business development, Jonas Tefsu’s passion for investments has seen him speak and teach at workshops and conferences around the globe. As a founder of startups like Byspire, Style Advice, Avery Ventures and Oslo Greenhouse, he commands a strong voice in the Norwegian startup scene. Currently a board member of Polyteknisk Förening, alumni at 500 startups and Angel Challenge, Tefsu established his consultancy in Berlin,Stockholm and Silicon Valley where he has over ten years of startup experience in the sector- having advised over 100 startups with implementation of their business strategy.
He recently launched Pangea, a Norwegian accelerator firm keen on linking Kenyan start-ups with international investment and expertise. He spoke to Sylvester Okumu, the Managing Editor at StartUp Magazine on his dreams of nurturing the next generation of African entrepreneurs through the Pangea Investment accelerator program.
Tell us about Pangea Accelerator and what is seeks to address?
The Pangea Accelerator Program is a three months milestone based accelerator program that focuses on validation and scalability. The Pangea Accelerator ensures the investment readiness of your startup and connects you with the right angel and diaspora investors.
Does African startup need global investment and expertise to unlock their potential?
Yes and no! I believe the best combination is to have local and international investors since it enables you to be strong on both local and international markets.
At Pangea Accelerator we focus on activating the Diaspora community since they are a good combination of local and international investors.
An overall belief is that many African companies can grow with local investors. However, the problem is that there are very few active investors in the Kenyan startup ecosystem.
If the above is true, what is the single biggest predicament to African startup growth and sustainability?
Many African startups lack a great team with a lot of passion, persistence and drive. Startups need to focus on a big market with a unique approach. Personally, I believe the success of a firm during its early stages of inception is based on the tenacity of its team.
What is your secret recipe of developing the next generation of African entrepreneurs?
At Pangea, we focus on building the best support system for African entrepreneurs. Everything we do is to help nourish the Startups and help them scale.
How then can African startups make use of your programmes and services to attain success?
There are many ways a startup can use the program to attain success. The Pangea Accelerator enables your Startup to tap into a pool of experience and expertise from the angel investor and diaspora communities in Europe, US, and Africa, and also learn from them.
Our program can help companies scale to new markets, develop new services or get smart investment.
What do you think is the future of Africa’s economy with a vibrant startup and SME sub-sector?
I believe Africa is the future and that great innovations come from necessity. If African entrepreneurs can have the same opportunities as entrepreneurs in Europe or US, they can compete globally. Another factor is leapfrogging and the fact that given a chance, Africa will implement new technologies faster than developed countries. This will provide a better competitive ecosystem for driving new innovations. Actually, despite the fact that I strongly believe in healthcare and education, I foresee the agriculture sector churning out the next African millionaires and billionaires.
Going forward, what roles are you (Pangea) going to play in shaping Africa social and economic growth?
Our ambition is to take a leading role in shaping Africa’s social and economic growth. Initially, we will start in Kenya but within a few years, we will have ventured into many African countries and supporting talent. We believe the diaspora community will play a crucial role in driving the growth and our job is to get them activated today through the Pangea accelerator and our investment platform.