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The Embassy of Ethiopia in Sweden and Bantaba, a platform connecting African startups with the diaspora, are working to mobilize funding for Ethiopian startups from the diaspora community abroad.

This collaboration is part of an initiative to encourage diaspora engagement with the Ethiopian startup ecosystem, particularly through, knowledge sharing, mentorship, and potential funding.

“While Bantaba has seen considerable success across Africa, the direct involvement of Ethiopian startups and investors has been less pronounced,” says Hana Betachew, Political & Public Diplomacy Officer at the Embassy. “This isn’t due to a lack of potential but rather a gap in awareness and engagement from the Ethiopian side, both startups and diasporas,” Hana adds.

Launched in June 2021, Bantaba connects African tech startups with talent and investors in the diaspora, empowering them to contribute to Africa’s tech ecosystem through networking, mentoring, and investing in continental startups.

The term “Bantaba” originates from the Manding language, referring to a large tree where village elders gathered to discuss community matters. Lamin K. Darobe, founder and CEO of the platform, employs this analogy to depict Bantaba as a digital “square” where diasporans and tech startups can converge to address challenges faced back home. According to him, the platform revolves around three core features: discovery, networking, and knowledge transfer.

Alongside the community platform, Bantaba provides specialized fundraising services for African tech companies at seed stage and beyond. This service is tailored for founders about to start a fundraising process or startups looking to close a round. The fundraising services connect startups with diaspora investors interested in specific sectors or markets. Bantaba Syndicate, a curated investment arm, also allows the diaspora to collectively invest in promising African startups. 

“This community platform is currently enabling over 400 African tech companies to connect with mentors and consultants in the diaspora. We have also facilitated $650k worth of investments into African tech companies from our investor community.” Darboe told Shega.

Notable examples of startups that have benefited from Bantaba’s services include Twiva, WellaHealth, and Logidoo.

Ethiopians constitute one of the largest East African communities in the Nordic countries, states Hana. This entails a total population of 61,120, including Sweden (42,244), Norway (13,325), Denmark (2,215), and Finland (3,336). This figure encompasses second-generation individuals, those granted citizenship, and those with resident permits, but excludes undocumented residents.

In addition to efforts to reach startups in Ethiopia, the Embassy, located in Stockholm, is working on hosting an event this year to familiarize the Nordic diaspora with the Ethiopian startup ecosystem. “Sweden is a very startup-friendly country. The Ethiopian diaspora is also aware of this, and we believe we can bring this mindset back home,” the diplomat told Shega.

Joining Bantaba’s platform is free for founders. This unlocks a pool of diaspora professionals who can provide mentorship and consulting services. Additionally, founders can build connections with a range of diaspora experts, fostering both personal and business growth.

According to the World Economic Forum, over 200 million people of African descent live outside the continent.

In addition, the remittances they send to the continent often outweigh the foreign direct investment and developmental aid. They contribute to innovation by giving the youth access to educational opportunities that open the door to understanding the issues in their communities and working toward solving them.

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Etenat holds a degree in Journalism and her master's in Public Relations. Previously, she served as a university lecturer and has five years of experience in communications, media, digital marketing, and consulting.