We use cookies to enhance your user experience. By using this website you accept cookies. We do not store your personal details.

More info


Loading Events

Co-Creating the Future: An African Startup Symposium on Collaboration

The event has passed
Category: Community & Engagement, Corporate Innovators, Founders & Startups, Investors & Capital



June 20, 2023
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm CDT


4201 Main Street
Houston, TX 77002


Join The Beta Collective and Ion for an in-person symposium exploring opportunities for cross-border entrepreneurial collaboration between the US/Houston and Africa. From Idea to Impact, we’ll delve into the African startup ecosystem, highlighting growth and potential for cross-border collaboration, key sectors driving innovation and growth, and legal, regulatory, and cultural considerations and challenges for cross-border collaborations.

In addition, we’ll showcase startups and investment opportunities and discuss the current landscape of black investors and founders in the US and their potential impact on the African startup ecosystem.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, investor, or interested in the African startup ecosystem, this symposium is for you. You’ll gain insights on building successful partnerships, investment opportunities and challenges, and resources available to maximize success in cross-border collaborations.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to connect, collaborate and co-create the future with a diverse group of like-minded individuals from across the globe. Register today!

This event is being held in partnership with the Beta Collective and sponsored by TipHub Venture Capital


Ukeme Daniel E. MD., MPH

Ukeme Essien is the founder of The Beta Collective, a community that incubates ideas for solving grand challenges in African communities globally and enabling collaboration. She is a medical doctor with a passion for solving grand challenges in African communities through population research and innovation design. She has worked with organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Health Organization and founded The Beta Collective, a community incubating innovative ideas for social entrepreneurship.

Ukeme is also an advocate for the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, having hosted several panels and roundtables in different cities. She also consults for early-stage start-ups in emerging markets over the past 5+ years. Her dedication to empowering emerging entrepreneurs and making a positive impact in African communities is unwavering.


Wale Salami – Moderator

Wale Salami is an American angel investor, venture capitalist, U.S. Army veteran, and tech professional with over 10 years of experience working in the military, nonprofit and private-sector roles in world-class organizations. He served with the Air Defense Artillery Brigade of the United States Army, was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and was on a tour of duty to the Middle East as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently with one of the top 4 tech companies in America (one of Fortune 10), leading cloud adoption strategies in the SouthEast AMER region.

Wale holds a certificate in Private Equity & Venture Capital from Universitä Bocconi, a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering from Lagos State University, and an Executive MBA from the University of Texas, Arlington. He is a member of the HBS Alumni Angels Association (HBSAAA), The Stanford Angels Club, and also a chartered member of the Angel Capital Association (ACA), a network of over 14,000+ active, professional angels.

Prof. Robert M. Franklin III

Robert M. Franklin III is a Venture Partner at Sybilla Mastersfund, a Lecturer at Rice University Jones School of Business, and a Managing Director at the Vessel Group, a management consulting firm in Houston. He has expertise in providing regulatory and risk management advice to global investment banks and energy/commodities firms. Robert is a former member of Houston Angel Network (HAN) and focuses on fintech startups. He holds an MBA from Tulane University and a BS in Finance and Banking from Hampton University, where he was named to the 40 Under Forty Society in 2021. He is also a graduate of the VC University: Venture Finance certificate program by the National Venture Capital Association and UC Berkeley Law. In his free time, he enjoys reading, working out, and cycling.

Mr. Ayo Sopitan

Meet Ayo Sopitan, the founder and CEO of Metalex Commodities, a company that builds supply chains for critical metals produced in Africa and delivers them to the global metals market. Metalex operates in Nigeria, Mauritania, and Zambia, providing essential metals like copper, manganese, lithium, and cobalt that are crucial to the energy transition. Before founding Metalex, Ayo spent ten years in the commodity trading industry, holding various senior roles at OpenLink Financial and IHS Market. He also worked as an independent commodity trading consultant.

Ayo is also an avid startup investor, having invested in nearly 25 startups in both North America and Africa. Ayo holds business degrees from Bryant University in Rhode Island and New York University. With his extensive industry experience and passion for investing in the future of Africa, Ayo is leading Metalex Commodities toward a more sustainable and innovative future.

Mrs. Angelique Bartholomew JD 

Angelique Bartholomew is a highly accomplished executive with over 25 years of experience in the public, private, and international sectors. She is the Principal at Intuitive Global Consulting (IGC), a certified women-owned consulting firm based in Houston, Texas. At IGC, Angelique leads the development of policies, programs, and projects related to communities, infrastructure, and trade.

Angelique is also an expert in economic development and public-private partnerships and has been responsible for landing over 30 million dollars in small business growth and revenue. She serves on several boards and committees at the local, state, and federal levels and has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce Trade and Finance Advisory Council for a two-year term. Her core competencies include program development, project implementation, strategic planning, negotiations, contracting, project management, policy, stakeholder engagement, procedure implementation, and international developments.

Michelle Mbeo 

Michelle Mbeo is a global leader with over 15 years of experience in successfully transforming organizations and driving innovation. However, her unique ability to navigate complex challenges and drive meaningful change in highly competitive environments like her native region of East Africa stands out.

Michelle has launched and grown multiple businesses in various sectors, including technology, finance, and healthcare, and is particularly focused on creating value for clients, governments, and stakeholders in Africa. Her work includes establishing Lakeview Fisheries in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as leading projects such as ‘Africa is Open,’ which bridges businesses and resources to create opportunities in the region. Through her leadership, she has expanded global small business leadership and patented developments and established a culture of innovation, collaboration, and accountability. Michelle’s extensive experience, coupled with her deep understanding of diverse markets and cultures, positions her well to continue driving success and delivering value to clients, employees, and stakeholders in Africa and beyond.


Startup Presenters

Company: SunFi

Presenter: Tomiwa Igun, Co-founder & COO

Tomiwa is an entrepreneur and advocates for electrifying Africa. He is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of SunFi Corporation, a Clean Energy FinTech company that provides financing and digital tools to enable distributed clean energy providers in Nigeria to scale clean, affordable, and reliable electricity. Prior to this, he worked at The Boston Consulting Group and Africa Finance Corporation on energy projects and infrastructure development in Africa. He also co-founded Young African MBAs, a non-profit that helps bridge the gap in Africa’s management talent. Tomiwa holds an MBA with Honors from Harvard Business School, an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University. During his time at HBS, he co-chaired the Africa Business Conference and co-authored a published Harvard Business School case study on the Privatization of Nigeria’s Power Sector.



6:00 pm - 6:10 pm - Introduction to the event and The Beta Collective
6:15 pm - 6:20 pm - Sponsors Highlight
6:20 pm - 6:35 pm - Startup showcase
6:40 pm- 7:30 pm - Panel
7:30 - 7:50 pm - Q&A
7:50 - 8:00 pm- Closing and Thanks
8:00 - 8:30 pm - Strategic Networking at Second Draught


Red Parking Lot
Enter 4203 Fannin Street into your GPS for directions directly to the red parking lot, located across the street from the Ion. This lot is for overflow guest parking and tenant parking.

Ion District Parking Garage (Now Open!)
Enter 4111 Fannin Street into your GPS for directions directly to this parking garage, located a block away from the Ion.