Breaking Silos and Building Synergies in the African Tech Startup Ecosystem

Transforming Africa’s Tech Ecosystem through Collaborative Value Chains

MEST Africa
3 min readJun 7, 2024
Building Synergies in the African Tech Startup Ecosystem

In the bustling streets of Nairobi, a startup founder shares a cup of coffee with her competitor, discussing potential collaborations. This scene, once unimaginable, symbolizes the dawn of a new era in Africa’s tech ecosystem — an era where startups realize that the path to innovation and growth is not walked alone but together. This article delves deep into the heart of why dismantling these silos is not just important but absolutely critical for the sustainable growth of startups in the African tech startup ecosystem.

The tech landscape is often viewed through the lens of competition, with startups zealously protecting their territory, knowledge, and resources. While this approach is rooted in survival instincts, it can sometimes limit the potential for broader impact and growth. However, within the vibrant tech incubators across the African continent, there’s a growing realization that collaboration, rather than competition, can unlock new opportunities. By working together, these innovators can break free from the silo mentality and make a significant mark on the global stage, driving innovation and creating a lasting impact.

Embracing Coopetition

The term “coopetition” might seem like a paradox, but it’s a strategic masterpiece blending competition with cooperation. Imagine two startups, one specializing in mobile payments and another in e-commerce logistics, sharing insights to solve a common challenge: reaching remote customers. This is coopetition in action — leveraging each other’s strengths to achieve mutual goals.

The Interconnected Value Chain

Interconnected value chains represent a holistic approach to business, recognizing that every entity, from suppliers to consumers, plays a role in the ecosystem. For African startups, this means seeing beyond immediate transactions to the broader network of relationships that can be nurtured for mutual benefit. A simple partnership between a fintech startup and a small-scale farmer’s cooperative could revolutionize access to markets and financial services, demonstrating the power of interconnectedness.

Verifibuy: Pioneering the Coopetition Model

The Verifibuy Team — Formerly Kudigo

Verifibuy, a MEST alumni-led start-up, is an omnichannel retail solution for small and micro-businesses across Africa. Through strategic partnerships with fintech companies like Interswitch, Blupenguin, and Paga, Verifibuy exemplifies the transformative power of collaborative commerce. By combining efficient supply chain operations with fintech rails, Verifibuy enhances its product offerings and expands its market presence.

“Our journey is a testament to the importance of intentional collaboration in driving growth and innovation,” stated Kingsley Abrokwa, Executive Director of Verifibuy. “By identifying synergies, setting clear objectives, and fostering a culture of sharing, Verifibuy has built a thriving ecosystem of partners that fuels its success. As Africa’s digital commerce landscape continues to evolve, collaborative partnerships will play an increasingly vital role in shaping its future.”

Verifibuy’s example shines a bright light on the transformative power of collaborative commerce within Africa’s dynamic tech startup ecosystem. Through strategic alliances and an ethos of cooperation, startups can transcend traditional barriers, leverage each other’s strengths, and collectively drive innovation and sustainable growth. As the continent progresses further into the digital age, fostering a culture of collaboration will be essential for unlocking the full potential of its tech landscape and creating lasting impact on a global scale.

This blogpost was co-written by Kingsley Abrokwa, MEST Class of 2015, Executive Director of Verifibuy and the Marketing and Community Team at MEST.



MEST Africa

The largest Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for startups: