Judith Middleton and Alexandra Fraser at the Geek Girl Dinner in Cape Town. | Source: HumanIPO
“We are just not there yet, we have a very immature venture capital (VC) and funding landscape,” said Alexandra Fraser, Business Developer at Invenfin.
Fraser believes it will take up to 30 years for South Africa to build a sustainable ecosystem.
“We don’t have a government who are really bending over backwards to really promote and actually develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem and put things in place like the Startup Chile intitiave.” she said. “I think we do have some really important, great innovators.
"There are challenges, but I think that we do have some really great building blocks and some talented invidivuals and a couple of companies doing some really great things.
"We live in an amazing place. Cape Town is a very attractive destination, we have some large corporates here who are vital to the system, like MIH. We have enough people who are wanting to make it work.”
Judith Middleton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DUO Marketing and Communications, was of the opinion South Africa has a reputation to build so that it does not “sabotage integrity”.
“A lot of people prefer South Africa because of time,” she said, regarding the national market’s choice between overseas and local online services.
Middleton discussed the Kenyan and Nigerian markets as being ahead when it comes to mobile, referring to the success story of M-Pesa.
“These people use mobiles like we read,” she said. “Things are happening and coming from all different sides of the universe to look at Africa. There are some damn smart people out there.
“Research carefully before taking on Africa, before taking your suitcases across the border. People are saying Lagos is tough… it’s true but it does not necessarily mean that we have to wage our way through Africa with pangas through a forest, there are nice avenues being paved by big companies, like MTN,” she advised.
Geek Girl Dinners is an initiative originally started in the United Kingdom by Sarah Lamb, with the aim of making females welcome in the technological industry.
The South African group started in 2011 through Mariska du Preez, Relations Developer Ninja at Mxit.