The 2014 Ghanaian Startup Ecosystem Report

MEST | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Martin Greenberg lives in New York City and is the co-founder of Upload Apps, a boutique mobile development shop. Prior to starting up his company, Martin worked at IBM in their security software business. His involvment in tech ecosystems such as Tel Aviv, Boston and New York City led to his strong interest in emerging ecosystems in Africa.

Did you know that mobile phone penetration in Africa is at 80% and growing rapidly?

This mobile trend is putting a computer in every person’s hand in Africa. It’s fascinating and I was curious to see how that spawned innovation. With government, accelerators and academics creating a burgeoning ecosystem around technology I was interested to see for myself what was going on.

I jumped at the chance to fly to Accra, Ghana a hub of entrepreneurship in Africa. In Accra, I partnered with the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology to research the Ghanaian startup ecosystem.

We interviewed venture capitalists, CEOs, country general managers and dozens of startups. As a result we’re introducing the 2014 Ghanaian Startup Ecosystem Report. The report highlights key players in the ecosystem including technology players, the investment community, startups and the government.

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Here are my top three findings:

1) Mobile: Online Banking and eCommerce

Mobile adoption in Ghana has been phenomenal. In 2013, mobile penetration rates in Ghana were the highest in all of Africa at 112% with some consumers owning multiple phones.

The emergence and rapid adoption of mobile phones in Ghana is bringing with it new industries such as Online Banking and eCommerce that are ripe for entrepreneurs and established multi-national tech companies to get involved in.

2) The Diaspora Community

The diaspora community (Ghanaians living in other parts of the world) is growing both in scale and strength. According to a recent census as many as 91,000 Ghanaians live in the United States.

Many members of the diaspora have returned to Ghana to offer their skills, expertise and even to build advanced tech universities.

Not only are Ghanaians bringing their talents back to their home country, but they are also increasingly looking for ways to provide value through mentorship or investment opportunities in promising Ghanaian companies.

3) Early Stage Funding

New sources of financing are readily becoming available at the earliest stages in the investment lifecycle (when African startups need them the most).

Organizations such as MEST, the Savannah Fund and the Ghana Angel Investment Network (GAIN) are providing investments that give startups the capital they need to scale their product to reach a wider consumer base.

For an introduction to the Ghanaian startup ecosystem, check out the report here.