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Meet the MBA Grad Who Founded an NGO in Africa

Meet the MBA Grad Who Founded an NGO in Africa main image

Global business interest in Africa has boomed in recent years, with businesses and organizations wanting to tap into the resources the continent can offer.

We shouldn’t just be focusing on the international companies coming to Africa though, as Africa’s young entrepreneurs are also making big moves that deserve our attention. They are taking more risks than ever before and creating innovative, engaging businesses that tackle economic, social, and environmental problems while also creating numerous jobs within the continent too.

However, as development and infrastructure in Africa hasn’t received the same attention and funding as the western world, some young entrepreneurs in Africa have needed external funding and support to make their dreams a reality – and this is where Fabian-Carlos Guhl and his company Ampion comes in.

Fabian, founder and MD of Ampion wanted to break into the African market with a specialized focus – to nurture the talent of African youth to help them pursue their dreams.

Ampion is dedicated to supporting young Africans who are creating innovative start-ups that will drive social and economic impact in their local communities. The organization fosters innovation through public and private sector engagement, building strategic collaborations to enable the tech ecosystem and all its players.

Today, the company seems to be going from strength to strength. In the past six years, Ampion has aided the foundation of more than 80 start-ups in 17 African countries across a multitude of industries like healthcare, agriculture, water, mobile apps and renewable energy.

The man behind the company

Fabian-Carlos GuhlFabian (pictured second from left) founded Ampion in 2014 – six years after graduating from ESCP Business School with a master’s in international business (and five years before completing his MBA in International Management), which seemingly put his entrepreneurial drive in motion, as well as intrigue for Africa as a continent. Fabian said: “My initial degree helped me discover my entrepreneurial spirit. We had an entrepreneurship module and I worked with an international team on an organic tilapia farm in Ghana which was fun and rewarding.”

Although Fabian’s education could be seen as an instrument that steered him towards an interest on entrepreneurship in Africa, it’s important to ask what inspired him to create an organization supporting young Africans creating innovative start-ups.

He said: “During and after ESCP I did internships with the African Development Bank Group and the UN.”

Following this, his love for entrepreneurship and developing organizations was apparent and he went on to be part of the start-up industry for five years, which he used to his advantage when founding Ampion.

Fabian added: “I wanted to combine the best of both worlds when I founded Ampion, by leveraging my start-up experience in an international development context.”

 

Driving success

Ampion Venture BusIn 2015, the company launched its flagship program the Ampion Venture Bus – which is still received with the same level of enthusiasm and praise today.

The first tour saw four Ampion Venture buses travel across 16 African countries with 500 budding entrepreneurs from 37 countries. The carefully curated program supports the start-up development process in an innovative way.

Today, each Venture Bus tour concludes with a Grand Finale at one of Africa’s biggest tech conferences: Demo Africa in Lagos, AfricaCom in Cape Town and the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, where Bus participants pitch their start-up idea on stage to a panel and a winner is crowned.

The best start-ups from each Bus have the opportunity to apply for the six-month Ampion Fellowship Program, which offers mentorship and subsidized office space for participants as an added bonus.

As an organization that prides itself on giving future talent an added boost (especially underrepresented entrepreneurs), Ampion strongly believes in supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of young women – ensuring a minimum of 50 percent of Ampioneers on each Bus are female.

Ampion connects aspiring entrepreneurs on the Venture Bus journeys with big tech hubs, helping them create business relationships with investors, co-founders and the local start-up scene in each country.

Even if entrepreneurs aren’t successful in this particular endeavour, the Ampion Alumni Community is an active digital platform to be a part of, offering continuous peer support and networking.

Nurturing talent

Ampion’s goal is to create a thriving tech entrepreneurship ecosystem that fosters youth innovation in Africa, and Fabian is happy with the direction the company is going.

He said: “We have inspired and impacted the lives of many. It is all about human connection and unleashing the potential of our participants.

“Several start-ups were formed to work towards solving some of the continents challenges like plastic trash, security and more.” Some example companies to keep a lookout for include ‘Yapili’, ‘Coliba’ and ‘Ask Without Shame.’

And the future for Ampion? Fabian said: “We are currently in a strategy phase brainstorming on projects in the field of good governance with a focus on tech.”

For anyone looking to follow in Fabian’s footsteps, the one piece of advice he has is: “Be patient with your achievements, and do not rush – take your time and do not scale too fast”.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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