🎙️ In this month’s episode of the African Pre-seed Podcast, Loraine Achar-Ogada speaks to Benoit Delestre, a Managing Partner at Saviu Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage startups in Francophone Africa. 🌍

💡 Yep, you read that right… Francophone Africa is a region with 34 countries and 470 million people. Yet, most conversations about Africa’s startup ecosystem focus on the ‘Big 4’: Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa, all of which are English-speaking countries. There’s not as much visibility for Francophone Africa’s tech ecosystem.

🚀 Delestre shares how he thinks about the investment opportunity in Francophone Africa, the sectors he’s bullish on, and how founders can think about expanding to the region. Delestre is definitely someone you should listen to. He founded and sold two fintech startups in Europe and was the former CEO of 4G Secure, a software publisher. Today, Delestre is big on fintech, logistics, and healthcare.

His thesis on fintech is straightforward; in Africa, banks are dedicated to meeting the needs of large corporate players, leaving the retail customer underserved. “Any payment or lending platforms serving the large population is key for me,” said Delestre. 🌍

He’s also big on logistics, pointing out that some of the continent’s biggest e-commerce players still struggle to break even, partly because of inefficient logistics. Beyond what sectors are hot and buzzy, Delestre answers the tough question of why Francophone Africa doesn’t get a ton of coverage.

“There’s a big gap between Anglophone and Francophone regions. While one is very structured, the other is on the way,” he shared. “In terms of consumer markets, they are similar, but beyond that, there’s a gap.”

Some gaps are the relative absence of startup studios, incubators, or exits. Yet, there’s a sense that the region is now on the rise. How should founders think about expansion in the region? Through sheer experience, Delestre advises founders to start from Abidjan, which is “the hub,” and then work their way to Togo and Benin, which are smaller but easier markets.

He admits that making a beeline from Abidjan to Dakar is tempting, but experience has shown him that such a move is often expensive and fraught with complexity.

That’s enough spoilers. Here’s the episode in full! 🔥

What to look forward to in this episode:

  • Exciting verticals and opportunities in the Francophone region [08:03]
  • Market expansion within the Francophone region [10:13]
  • Francophone startups that are raising significant amounts of capital [11:58]
  • Challenges preventing startups from moving across the continent [13:29]
  • Oversimplifications and assumptions about the region [16:20]
  • Cultural differences and their effect on startup expansion strategies [17:58]
  • Founder archetypes within Francophone Africa [20:41]
  • Fundamental differences between the region's largest markets [23:11]
  • The most active investors in the Francophone tech ecosystem [25:50]
  • Market characteristics that make Côte d'Ivoire an attractive ecosystem to invest in [29:36]
  • Francophone markets that are readily adopting new technology and innovation [33:22]
  • The government's role in catalyzing the region's tech ecosystem [36:23]
  • Signals to look out for when investing in a startup within the region [38:33]

Connect with Benoit Delestre on LinkedIn
Connect with Loraine Achar-Ogada on LinkedIn

Tell us...

  • What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode?
  • What topic would you like for us to feature on a future podcast?

Let us know via the hashtag #AfricanPreseedPodcast