Franklin Olakunle Amoo (WG' 09) - Baylis Emerging Markets Investment Markets
Overview of Business Venture
- Baylis Emerging Markets, the Africa-focused investment firm I co-founded in 2016, established Baylis Digital in 2021 to help finance the digital convergence of the African continent with the global community. Baylis recruited several of the most experienced and accomplished communications executives in Africa to lead Baylis Digital, each with decades of experience in the C-Suite of companies like MTN, Airtel and Vodafone. After being sponsored and capitalized by Baylis, Baylis Digital has partnered with several leading global institutional investment firms to pursue path-breaking connectivity projects in arenas such as subsea and terrestrial cable, digital content distribution, data labeling, machine learning, rural communications infrastructure, and last mile payments architecture.
Why did you decide to pursue this venture?
- With our core investment platform being immersed in industrial and telecommunications investments, it became clear to us that our core mission of financing Africa's industrialization would be challenged by the dearth of modern connectivity technology on the continent. Connectivity is now central to manufacturing, industrial development, maintaining civic society, and creating economic prosperity. Furthermore, investments in communication and digital technology infrastructure such as data centers, optical fiber cables, satellites, and mobile towers, as well as enabling digital technologies and software rails, are one of the most efficient ways to deploy capital at scale on the continent and benefit from constructive macro factors such as its galloping demographic growth trends and improving per capita incomes. Financial returns from such investments are paired with important impact - establishing this infrastructure and introducing these enabling technologies will ensure that the African continent and its youthful, rapidly expanding population are not left out of emergent trends such as generative AI, internet of things, autonomous technologies, remote work, big data, and e-learning.
What has the journey been like?
- It is extremely challenging to finance projects in Africa due to limited appetite from global investors and a deficit of risk capital on the continent. Despite being one of the few remaining global theaters of investment in which differentiated yields are available to large-scale deployments of capital, insufficient institutional investor focus on (and thus understanding of) African markets leave them severely under-invested. Meanwhile, low savings rates, a propensity for wealth offshoring by elites, and underdeveloped pensions and insurers result in shallow capital pools to support risk investments. Nevertheless, it has been exciting and rewarding to support critical development projects, and we have been pleased by the rich landscape of opportunity. We often identify projects with opportunities for growth and scale available to investors at deep value; our average investment entry point averages between 3-5x EBITDA.
How can alumni support?
- By connecting us to investors interested in deploying capital at scale with the opportunity to earn differentiated returns and introducing us to differentiated Africa-focused investment opportunities in connectivity, communications technology, content distribution, digitization, data labeling, machine learning, and digital technology spaces.
For more information