Africa is a fantastic place to launch a start-up…if you choose the right place to work. Every country has varying levels of governmental regulation, lending flexibility, and even reliability of power, so choosing a good spot for your start-up is half the battle.
Whether you want to launch a food business, a mobile tech company, or even a service-oriented brand, here are the 6 best places in Africa to work on your start-up>
More than any other city in Africa, Nairobi is on the move. With millions of permanent residents and one of the most permissible visa board for expats, Nairobi is a start-up founder’s dream and is lovingly referred to as the “Silicon Savannah”. It’s relatively inexpensive and there are dozens of incubators located within the city such as iLab and mLab East Africa. Internet access in Nairobi is very reliable and the city offers favorable tax setups for entrepreneurs.
2. Lagos, Nigeria
Start-up business owners will find more than one in-residence start-up community in Lagos, one of the most up-and-coming cities for African entrepreneurs. In Lagos it’s all about tech and in Africa, tech means “mobile.” There are almost 900 million mobile subscribers in Africa and the most profitable start-ups on the continent all have to do with mobile applications. Lagos is the hub of that mobile brainstorming.
3. Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Business [MEST] in Accra
This Ghana-based incubator is backed by Silicon Valley heavyweights like Etsy and Skype. MEST stands for “Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology” and actively trains young, local entrepreneurs in everything from code to marketing. Ghana is notoriously impoverished but MEST is slowly impacting change through it’s great ideas and forward-thinking minds.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is younger than many other cities in Africa and it’s got some of the most reliable infrastructure in the country. Because of the relative risk involved with living in the city, the South African government offers dozens of incentives for budding entrepreneurs. Of all African cities, start-ups located in Cape Town have the most opportunities when it comes to exporting and international business.
The aforementioned iHub, headquartered in Nairobi, offers unparalleled resources to other out-of-luck start-ups. It’s massive building allows over 11,000 entrepreneurs to collaborate on everything from start-ups to office space and since its inception in 2010 over 50 companies have been founded within the iHub walls. Nairobi is a great city for start-ups, yes, but any business with a fighting chance to make it in Kenya is somehow involved with iHub.
It’s sometimes said that proximity breeds success and if that’s true, Uganda is the place to be. Home to one of Africa’s most exciting new brands, Mara Online, Uganda is one of the most well-connected, digital countries in the entire continent. Mara itself regularly contributes to local start-up efforts and its service (Africa’s answer to Skype) makes doing business here just plain easy.
It’s time to take a look at Africa. With dozens of cities that house over 10,000,000 people it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of Africa’s start-up culture and the potential countries here have to benefit from home-grown entrepreneurs.
Ryan Currie is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development. In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.