The best way to give again to the African continent, the Bantaba manner

Considered one of my favorite traces from Jidenna’s 85 to Africa undertaking is from the tune Well worth the Weight. The tune options Seun Kuti, and the next monologue from the artiste in all probability captures a few of what community-driven platform, Bantaba is doing. 

“I imagine it’s time for an African people-powered freeway. A freeway that can join the diaspora and the motherland. A worldwide freeway for African folks everywhere in the world to rediscover themselves and keep in mind that the one factor that unites black folks globally, the one factor we’ve in frequent, is that we’re from Africa.”

When most of us hear the phrase diaspora, what involves thoughts is in-laws or relations overseas. For some, this might imply items like garments, toys, jewelry, or cash (the holy grail), which we generally prefer to name remittances.

Final 12 months, folks within the diaspora despatched again $45 billion to members of the family and buddies, and this quantity depicts how a lot cash comes into the African continent yearly. Apparently, regardless of World Financial institution predictions stating a attainable 20% decline for low and middle-income nations as a result of pandemic, that 12 months, remittances declined by only one.6%.

In some nations like The Gambia, Lesotho, and Cape Verde, these remittances contribute significantly to their GDP.

However let’s circle again to how these remittances come about. Many diasporans depart their nation in quest of higher jobs and alternatives. Though some go to get an schooling, we might estimate that the raison d’être is nearly at all times the previous. 

In the long term, which means that relying on the kind of job and the size of keep, these diasporans attain some stage of expertise. A few of them work with large tech firms like Fb, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and a few work with funding banks or firms.

Primarily, there’s a properly of largely untapped diasporan information.

At Bantaba, Lamin Ok. Darboe and his group of diasporans (and non-diasporans) are searching for methods to make sure this wealth of information and money trickles right down to African tech startups that want them.

Considered one of such diasporans is Pierre Jallow, a Gambian and the Founder and CEO of Webridge, an organization that connects Nordic/Baltic companies to the African market and vice versa. He’s additionally the Co-founder of Remode, an entry-level accelerator.

However earlier than his life in tech, Jallow was knowledgeable basketball participant. He moved round fairly a bit and performed in Finland (his present homeland) earlier than shifting to Russia after which again to Finland.

The way in which Jallow sees it, Bantaba helps to develop the Ubuntu philosophy of “I’m as a result of we’re”, which, for most individuals, has come to imply doing proper by their household, tribe or group. 

“Unexpectedly, you don’t must say, ‘Okay, my remittances are solely going to my mother and father or folks in my household’, or ‘I’m simply going to maintain my investments in Europe the place it’s not going to develop regionally.’However you might be saying with my $10, $20k, I’m going to spend money on a due-diligence prepared firm, in a vetted firm. That’s the platform that Bantaba offers these traders.”

The journey to Bantaba

Lamin Ok. Darboe. CEO and Co-founder of Bantaba

When Darboe left the shores of Gambia for India in 2012, it wasn’t as a result of he had goals of founding a startup. Removed from that, in reality. Like most younger folks — generally somewhat older — leaving Africa, Darboe left to get an schooling. 

However his journey to India would lead him to Italy.

“Throughout the identical 12 months, I had one other scholarship supply from a College in Milan, Italy, and that’s how I moved to Italy, the place I accomplished my undergraduate [studies] in finance. After which, like many finance graduates, the selection was perhaps funding banking or consulting. So I attempted to comply with a type of routes.”

That might take him to Eire after which again to Italy, a choice that will introduce him to the startup world.

“On the identical time, I used to be working with a accomplice who was an angel investor and had investments in lots of tech startups in Northern Italy.”

In August 2019, Darboe moved to Stockholm for an MSc on the Stockholm Faculty of Economics.

In June 2020, he met three different African college students — Fabrice Ouedraogo, Eliane Birba, and Noufou Kafando — in a local weather motion problem organised by Norrsken Basis and Stockholm Innovation & Progress (Sting). 

Though they’d ultimately crash out, the stage had been set for future collaborations, and the present result’s Bantaba.

The way in which Darboe explains it, Bantaba match makes diasporans with tech expertise and who wish to give again to the African continent by startups seeking to elevate capital, domesticate mentorship relationships, or obtain consulting companies.

A manner to think about that is by utilizing the which means of Bantaba. It’s an historic Manding phrase used to explain a big tree within the village sq. underneath which elders got here to debate issues that affected everybody within the village. 

Likening this to the digital platform, Darboe describes Bantaba as a square-like convergence of the diaspora and tech startups to “handle the challenges again house.”

What Bantaba isn’t

Whereas we’ve established what Bantaba is, what do you have to not mistake Bantaba for?

First off, whereas it is analogous to (in)well-known matchmaking platform, Tinder, by way of matching tech startups in want {of professional} recommendation and funding with diasporans who can present these issues, discovering love isn’t the aim. Darboe finds the thought “attractive,” however sadly, not totally consultant of all Bantaba does.

Facet observe: For those who discover love whereas utilizing Bantaba, please attain out; I really like to listen to such tales.

Additionally it is not LinkedIn. Though it creates a group of execs, it’s extra targeted on the diaspora and tech startups, a constructive which Darboe believes can open room for monetisation sooner or later.

One other thought to scratch off the listing is an accelerator or an incubator. Bantaba is none of these issues, and whereas it does permit startups to create the sort of relationships you’d get with these, it has a special method.

Additionally, it isn’t strictly a platform to boost cash. Whereas that possibility exists, it isn’t the first providing. Like the standard funding spherical, cash is exchanged for fairness. Nonetheless, like GetEquity, a cap is positioned on how a lot is raised. There may be, nonetheless, no official marketplace for secondaries.

Nonetheless, like with most community-centred apps, every consumer has a profile. However, earlier than it’s created, the startups and diasporans undergo a vetting course of to make sure that all is properly. All the information offered is used to match startups and diasporans with related wants. 

Bantaba additionally offers Amazon Internet Companies (AWS) and Miro credit to startups on the platform primarily based on the partnerships it has with these firms.

In the long run, the thought was birthed out of Darboe and his co-founders’ pursuits in participating with the African continent, bridging the hole between the diaspora and the tech group, whereas constructing a group of specialists and potential traders.

At present, Bantaba takes a 5% payment off any profitable funding deal they’re straight concerned in. Because of this if a startup joined the platform to boost cash and Bantaba matched them with an investor who proceeds to provide them cash, Bantaba makes cash off this. 

Whereas I ponder how sustainable this might be in the long term, Tomiwa Onaleye, Bantaba’s Content material Strategist, tells me the top aim is to earn sufficient cash to “hold the corporate’s lights on.”

That is doubly difficult while you realise {that a} startup could make these connections by itself on the platform and presumably get funding with out Bantaba figuring out. However Onaleye says they aren’t essentially bothered about that. 

Thus far, Bantaba has raised $425,000 in pre-seed funding from Swedish angel traders. For subsequent rounds and maintaining with their present enterprise mannequin, Onaleye says the corporate is in no rush to deliver simply any sort of investor on board.

However are there plans to open up the platform to non-diasporans?

Though Darboe doesn’t rule out this risk, he makes a press release paying homage to our introductory anecdote: “I imagine it’s time for an African people-powered freeway.” 

“I feel it’s a great way for Africans to be a part of their very own growth earlier than you usher in different folks.”

And Jallow agrees.

“No nation was developed by others. Each nation on this world was developed by its personal folks. Whether or not you think about one of many nations in Europe or North America, they had been developed by their very own folks. 

“And the identical goes for the African continent and the nations throughout the continent, and if its personal folks don’t stand up, we don’t develop it. And I feel that is the possibility Bantaba creates.”

Ogheneruemu Oneyibo

Author, Humanoid, Perpetually she/her, Lover of phrases.


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