There has been a significant increase in African startups over the last decade. These companies provide a variety of solutions, with some achieving global recognition and unicorn status. Some, on the other hand, have remained underfunded and receive little mentorship and support.
This is where Lamin Darboe enters the picture. He is the co-founder and CEO of Bantaba, a digital matchmaking platform that connects African tech startups with diaspora knowledge and capital. It takes pride in being Africa’s largest startup diaspora community.
In essence, African tech startups can connect with diaspora angels interested in investing in African startups. Darboe, who was born in Gambia and studied finance and banking in India, explained how his platform works in an interview with Business Africa Online.
“On the one hand, African tech startups can use the platform to create a pitch for their product or service and disclose their business needs.” Diaspora professionals and investors, on the other hand, can build a profile that highlights their skills, experience, and interest in the African tech ecosystem.
“The platform then uses the provided information to match startups with diasporas in the community who can add value to them, and vice versa.” When a match is found, Bantaba’s in-platform messaging feature can be used to communicate,” he explained.
According to Darboe, what distinguishes Bantaba is that it brings African tech startups closer to capital and resources by establishing a global network. The platform is based on a model that democratizes access to capital, knowledge, and resources. This allows startups to gain access to much-needed resources, he told Business Africa Online.
“On the diaspora end, the platform finally allows millions of knowledgeable and wealthy Africans living abroad to contribute to the growth of the African continent.” They can now support disruptive startups while also diversifying their investments by gaining access to a larger pool of startup investment opportunities,” he explained.
The platform has over 500 diaspora and startup users so far. Bantaba has raised approximately $500,000 in funding since launching its beta platform in Sweden. The platform has also been invited to join SSE Business Labs, one of Sweden’s largest innovation hubs. Bantaba was also one of ten finalists in the 2021 Shift Capital Competition, which began with more than 250 Swedish tech startups.
Despite the company’s success, Darboe stated that the journey has been difficult.
His biggest challenge, he says, has been finding the right tech talent for the team, owing to the increase in demand for tech talent since the pandemic. And, as the tech CEO pointed out, being a young company makes it difficult to compete with offers from large corporations.
Bantaba currently operates in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, and it is eager to welcome any startup from other African countries.
Darboe founded Bantaba in July 2021 with Fabrice Ouedraogo and Burkinabe Noufay Kafando. Darboe had left his home country of Gambia for India nine years before to study banking and finance 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 a few months before returning to Italy to work for a telecommunications company. Darboe relocated to Stockholm, Sweden, in 2019 to pursue an MSc at the Stockholm School of Economics.
Despite its Swedish headquarters, Bantaba has a global workforce with employees in Kenya, France, Taiwan, and Germany.