In the last decade, there has been a sharp increase in African startups. These companies offer different solutions with some gaining global recognition and unicorn status. However, some have remained underfunded and barely get mentorship and support.
That is where Lamin Darboe comes in. He is the co-founder and CEO of Bantaba, a digital matchmaking platform that allows African tech startups to access knowledge and capital from the diaspora community. It prides itself on being Africa’s biggest startup-diaspora community.
Essentially, African tech startups can connect with diaspora angels looking to invest in African startups. In an interview with Business Africa Online, Gambian-born Darboe, who studied finance and banking in India, shared how his platform works.
“On one hand, African tech startups can create a pitch of their product or services and disclose their business needs on the platform. Diaspora professionals and investors, on the other hand, can create a profile showcasing their skills, experience and as well as their interest in the African tech ecosystem.
“The platform then uses the information provided to match startups with diasporas in the community that are in a position to add value to them and vice-versa. Once there is a match, Bantaba’s in-platform messaging feature can be used for communication,” he explained.
According to Darboe, what makes Bantaba unique is that it brings African tech startups closer to capital and resources through the creation of a global network. The platform operates a model that democratizes access to capital, knowledge and resources. This makes it feasible for startups to get access to much needed resources, he told Business Africa Online.
“On the diaspora end, the platform finally gives millions of knowledgeable and wealthy Africans living abroad the ability to help the African continent grow. They can now support disruptive startups and also diversify investments by accessing a wider pool of startup investment opportunities,” he said.
So far, the platform has over 500 diaspora and startup users. Since launching its beta platform in Sweden, Bantaba has raised about $500,000 in funding. The platform has also been selected to join SSE Business Labs, one of the biggest innovation hubs in Sweden. Bantaba was also among the 10 finalists at the 2021 Shift Capital Competition, which started with over 250 Swedish tech startups.
Despite the success of the company, Darboe said the journey has been challenging. According to him, his biggest challenge has been finding the right tech talent for the team due to the rise in demand for tech talent since the pandemic. And being a young company makes it usually difficult to compete with offers from big corporations, the tech CEO said.
Currently, Bantaba operates in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt and is ready to welcome any startup from other countries on the continent.
Darboe started Bantaba in July 2021 with Fabrice Ouedraogo and Noufay Kafando, who are from Burkina Faso. Nine years prior to that, Darboe had left his home country of Gambia for India for his banking and finance studies at the National Institute of Bank Management. Following his undergraduate studies in Italy in 2015, he moved to Ireland and worked for a consulting firm for some months before going back to Italy to work with a telecom company. In 2019, Darboe moved to Stockholm, Sweden, to pursue an MSc at the Stockholm School of Economics.
Even though Bantaba is headquartered in Sweden, it has a global workspace with employees based in Kenya, France, Taiwan, and Germany.