'Coffee drinker extraordinaire' is a title that only a true entrepreneur would pick, but it is what York Zucchi, of York Zucchi Partners, tends to go by. After working in Europe, the Middle East and Asia in sectors from security to software to banking, Mr. Zucchi cashed in his stock options, left his job at Goldman Sachs and went to Africa. Three-and-a-half years on, his companies, which span healthcare, education and IT, employ 1,850 people across 26 countries on the continent.
"Africa has a perception attached to it which is often outdated to the realities of it," Mr. Zucchi says. "That mismatch gives a very nice space for people who have a bit of appetite for risk to come into a relatively uncompetitive market."
To date, the company has been built on Mr. Zucchi's own finances and on bootstrapping. He is now looking to raise €250 million ($360 million) for further expansion. He began a roadshow in the summer. "Within two weeks, we had something like 16 meetings around the world with people ready to write the check," he says. "If I had done the fundraising three years ago … nobody would have even opened the door."
Mr. Zucchi's success stands out, but his experience is not unique. Entrepreneurs are reaping huge returns from African markets, but they often have to build their businesses alone in the early stages. This is because capital tends to be concentrated in the small pool of large companies on the continent. The current structure of the industry also means that smaller investors find it hard to access these frontier markets...
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York is currently completing his Full Time Entrepreneurship MBA at GIBS