Rebecca Enonchong (@africatechie) is one of the most influential voices for tech and female entrepreneurship in Africa. From her bases in Douala, Cameroon, and Washington, D.C., the veteran founder and investor also chairs AfriLabs, a network of nearly 300 innovation centers in 49 African countries.
What’s the biggest tech opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa that’s often overlooked?
African entrepreneurs are given the extra burden of having to demonstrate the “social” benefit of their solution, in many cases. This is changing but has been a real barrier to getting funded. Startups around gaming and entertainment are often overlooked because they seem frivolous.
What’s the most common misconception about the markets you cover in Africa?
That they are homogeneous. A company will try to use the same strategy to enter the market in Côte d’Ivoire as they do in Ghana. They are so different.
Which African markets are most underrated, and what will change that?
I would say Francophone Africa markets. They are so misunderstood. More must be done to explain the differences with the other economic zones. There are common business laws and accounting regulations for the 17 countries under the OHADA framework and this could be a real advantage for tech startups here.
What is one key challenge in changing perceptions for African female entrepreneurs in tech?
It’s hard for Black women everywhere, not just in Africa. I think that we Africans will be the ones to help change perception for the rest of the Black women elsewhere. Look at AfriLabs, mostly led by women. It’s not just symbolic. Representation matters. The more young girls and boys see tech organizations and startups are run by women, the more this will become normalized.
*This 3 Minutes With interview first appeared in the Rest of World weekly newsletter. Sign up here.