Gain insight into the startup scene in Sudan amidst conflict from Nour Tawfig, Renew Capital’s investment and project manager for Sudan, as he shares his unique perspective on the potential of the Sudanese startup ecosystem.
By Renew Capital Marketing and Communications Team | Wed Jul 19 2023
Opposing sides in Sudan began fighting earlier this year, uprooting nearly 3 million people. Almost 700,000 have fled to neighboring countries according to IOM. Renew Capital’s investment and project manager for Sudan, Nour Tawfig, who was born and raised in Sudan and is currently based in Egypt, talks about his journey in investment management and shares his unique perspective on the current situation in Sudan.
Q. Briefly share your background and how you came to investment management.
I have a finance background and have worked in the corporate finance sector, focusing on investments in startups and SMEs. Over the past five years, I have raised funds from angel investors to support startups and SMEs in Sudan mainly through profit sharing models, primarily in agriculture and healthcare industries. I have also been involved in the startup ecosystem by working with accelerators and a Y Combinator-backed startup. Currently, I am pursuing a more structured and institutionalized path in investment management.
Q. What industries have been standing out in the local Sudanese ecosystem in recent years?
Fintech is a particularly active sector, with startups developing innovative financial products and services such as mobile banking apps and online payment platforms. Agritech is also growing, with startups working on solutions to improve crop yields and promote sustainable agriculture. In addition, ride-hailing, e-commerce, and logistics startups have seen success, capitalizing on the absence of major players like Uber and Careem due to previous sanctions. While the Sudanese startup ecosystem shows great potential due to its young population and abundant resources, more work is to be done in that space as well as the ongoing war and economic instability pose challenges to its growth and stability.
Q. What is the current state of the investment scene in Sudan?
Before the war, the investment scene in Sudan showed signs of growth with active investors, including local angels, Sudanese venture capital funds, and international venture capital funds, focusing on the startup ecosystem. Fundraising activities had seen significant increases, with some startups raising millions of dollars from various investors. Currently, amidst the war, the agricultural sector is one of the most active areas for investment in Sudan. Efforts are being made to raise funds for agritech startups that can improve crop yields and harvesting, particularly in areas unaffected by the war.
Q. What is something that you want people to know about Sudan?
Sudan has a rich history and culture and holds the potential to become a great nation. However, realizing this potential requires unity, and setting aside divisions that hinder progress. With 68% of Sudan's population being under the age of 30, recognizing the potential of young people and investing in their education, skills, and leadership capabilities will not only contribute to their personal growth but also enable them to actively participate in nation-building processes.
Q. What is one principle you live by that guides your work and life?
One guiding principle that shapes both my work and personal life is the commitment to always do what is right, even in the face of difficulties. This principle serves as a compass for making tough decisions, upholding my beliefs, and living a life that fills me with pride. While it may not always be the easiest path to follow, doing what is right is crucial for maintaining personal integrity and cultivating a deeply fulfilling existence.
I strongly resonate with the idea that "easy choices, hard life; hard choices, easy life," as it underscores the importance of embracing the challenges that come with making the right choices. By adhering to this principle, I strive to navigate both professional and personal circumstances in a manner that reflects my values and contributes positively to my overall well-being.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.