To get a better sense of what lies ahead for the European startup ecosystem, we spoke to several investors and entrepreneurs in the region about their impressions and lessons learned from 2019, along with their predictions for 2020.
We asked for blunt responses, and we weren’t disappointed.
These responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Kenny Ewan, founder/CEO, Wefarm (London)
I’ve often been faced with questions around how we can generate revenue in markets like Africa. There has historically been a view that you can do something good or you can generate revenue. Companies that talk about developing markets usually get squarely lumped into the former. While mission-led companies achieving tremendous growth has been talked about for a while, 2019 has been a year I have felt conversations with investors and others really begin to shift to the reality of that and it’s thanks to more and more proof points being delivered by startups across the board.
As more and more businesses begin to realize they don’t need to wait for the internet to descend from the sky for these markets to become hubs of commerce and innovation — and see that it’s already happening — I believe 2020 will continue to witness more and more historic tech companies shifting their focus to markets like Africa and that there will be more coverage and discussion as a result.