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Hi Paul,

First of all, I would like to commend your worthy contribution to the good work the people at Zidisha are doing.

There is something I want to draw to your attention to(searched and did not find your email)

I am wondering how to balance the stereotyping to the "African Entrepreneur" while at the same time not forgetting the millions of small scale business owners in Africa.

When I first saw the headline, I was excited that finally, a top tech investor would be investing in African startups. Only to look and see yet another (VERY COMMENDABLE)but "charity like" donation.

In general, you do not see VCs from the west investing in African startups. That door is almost always closed. When they do it has to be under the category of impact investment and/or a "social enterprise"

Why do you think this is so?

Two years before the WhatApp acquisition, a Ghanaian startup SAYA https://www.saya.im/ came for disrupt but they could not get any funding. Even with hundred thousands waiting signups. Almost like they were not worthy to tackle high tech.

I am very certain that if these guys had built an SMS app to remind farmers of prices in the market (or something along that line) they would have got funding.

Thankfully, things are changing a bit as Dropifi http://www.dropifi.com/ (from Ghana) got funding from 500 Startups.

PS: I want to make it clear that what you are doing is very worthy and commendable and this is not meant to be a criticism of you or this action in ANY way.

PPS: I will be in SF from Wed-Sunday this week and would be very happy to chat with people who want to learn about the tech scene in Nigeria (yes and that includes 'Nigerian scams' et al :)).

Oh. I also do not mind surfing on your couch if available too :). You will be paid in Nigerian beer (I brought some).

my email is in my profile.




Part of what I like so much about YC is that we are open to entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world. In fact, the latest batch has founders from 23 different countries: https://twitter.com/paulg/status/411897120572989440

I think we've had Nigerian founders in the past, and I'd love to see more African entrepreneurs in the program. I believe it benefits everyone to have a more diverse set of perspectives in the batch.

Obviously the big problem for many is getting past the American immigration system. We'd all like to reform that system, but unfortunately those changes take a long time. Maybe some day we'll expand the program to a location that has better international accessibility.


It would be great to see more programs targeted at entrepreneurs from developing countries actually in those countries themselves. There seems to be a big gap in FDI in developing countries between support for lifting micropreneurs out of poverty and major infrastructure projects supported by multinationals or the World Bank, and I doubt it's one which is generally well supported by local financial institutions or investors. And I suspect it's the smart ambitious locals that could generate the highest returns on that support if they got it. Ultimately the resulting business models may look different - fewer exit options than SV but also drastically lower medium-term funding requirements and untapped regional markets.

Then again, reforming the business environment in many developing countries to make it an attractive destination for modest-sized equity investments in SMEs might prove a even bigger challenge than reforming US immigration...




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