We spoke with Vanda Oliveira, founder and Managing Partner of Bantu Makers, a startup studio based in Luanda, Angola. She is teaming up with Get in the Ring to raise awareness about our projects in Africa within her network. In this interview, she shares what her years of expertise as an entrepreneur, coach, and volunteer in Angola have taught her.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the origin of your organisation?
My name is Vanda Oliveira; I have worked in Tech since 2012, first as a startup facilitator and then in a Tech startup. I moved from London, UK to Angola in 2015 and decided to create a startup studio for local entrepreneurs to have a safe environment to start to experiment, build and sometimes fail, all of this in a shared infrastructure of resources.
At Bantu Makers, we enable entrepreneurship in a creative environment. We create viable innovative companies and, in turn, decent jobs and economic growth. Angola is a very young country where the majority of the population is below 25 years old, a lot of people do not have relevant work experience, and many who want to start a company do not know where to start. Bantu Makers can bring them the support, infrastructure, and mentorship they require to start their journey as entrepreneurs, from the idea to the business.
What makes you different from other support organisations?
Our infrastructure makes us unique. Indeed, if they join an incubator or accelerator and fail, for instance, they have to move on and probably lose their jobs. If one idea fails, we have other ideas to work on in the pipeline. We always have something to experiment with, to go to market with, and validate.
Furthermore, we have all the skills in-house: design, programming, and business. Because we started with our capital, it gave us the freedom to invest in our ideas, but we also look for angel investors to join us in that pre-seed stage, So if founders want to join us, they will find a lot of support in our infrastructure giving them everything they need to start up and accelerate their business. Finally, we have an extensive network of mentors and partners helping us, so we have access to a client database to test our ideas and relations with the media to gain exposure.
What domains do you focus on?
FinTech is one of our main focuses because, in our Angolan/African context, it is one of the most challenging sectors. A big portion of the population is unbanked, without access to neither banking nor financial services. We are trying to build products and services giving people access to financial services. But we have other ideas in our pipeline related to other sectors, namely education, health, logistics, and agriculture.
Can you tell us about one unconventional/bold female founder-driven solution you know of within your network?
I think of the Angolan Nayole Morais, who created the Mipha app. It’s a free Health app available on mobile phones and designed to report useful information, check symptoms, learn more about diseases and conditions and use rapid diagnostic tests. They send affordable test kits to professionals or people who want to get tested for various conditions (HIV, Syphilis, Dengue fever, pregnancy) and assist the person every step of the way. I think it is an inspirational story in the sense that she had many difficulties to implement in Angola, because, unfortunately, it’s not easy to penetrate this specific sector in Angola. Now she works with the Lesotho and Namibian governments and other analysts, and big companies to further develop the app, and it is helping thousands of people.
Why did you choose to partner with GITR?
It’s an opportunity to connect with an organization that has such an extensive network already through startup competitions and to help further expand its African network. We share common values. I believe entrepreneurship and innovation to be the driving forces for social well-being and economic prosperity. And it would be amazing to have more global events in Angola because we don’t have even close to enough.
What are your current plans?
At the moment, we are working on Deya, which is the first crowdfunding platform created in Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.
In the future, we want to build an innovation and entrepreneurship hub where anyone who wants to learn what is going on in the ecosystem, and anyone who has potential business ideas can come to work and have access to computers and the internet. We would have events, workshops/bootcamps, and meet and greets. This project is ready, and we are currently working on finding funds.
Join the Get in the Ring ecosystem now!Tags: africa, Angola, Bantu Makers, Ecosystem, WEA, Women