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VC | Entrepreneurship | Impact | Emerging markets

Founder education in emerging markets – Tiziana F. Bombassei

“Do things because you believe in them”


I’m the Global Partnerships Manager for Seedstars, a Swiss investment holding with a presence in 80+ emerging and frontier markets.

We are on a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. The group is organized around two key activities:

(1) Investing in impactful high-growth technology companies (VC)
(2) Working in partnership with public and private entities to develop emerging market entrepreneurship ecosystems, create jobs, and fuel economic growth.

I am always happy to connect with those that believe in the potential of innovation by, in and for emerging markets. If you want to get in touch about collaborating please feel free to connect.



Tiziana F. Bombassei

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Transcription for Tiziana F. Bombassei

Jeffery: Welcome to the supporters fund ask an investor I’m your host Jeffery Potvin and let’s please welcome Tiziana F. Bombassei I hope I said that correct Global partnership manager at seed starts our investor for today welcome Tiziana it’s a real pleasure having you join us today.

Tiziana: Thanks a lot it’s my pleasure to be withyou today thanks for the invite and congratulations.

Jeffery: It actually uh kind of reminded me of uh um when going through Kenya it kind of reminded me of Mombasa uh one of the Cities there so I was like okay if I can say this correctly then I’m off the races so and that’s a great City I’m not sure if you’ve been there but uh in Kenya in Nairobi all the way to Mombasa you can take a fantastic train that drives you to Big open train with big windows and you get to see all the landscape for about 11 hours I think it was if I remember correctly all the way into mom Boston so you haven’t checked it out you’re gonna have to.

Tiziana: That’s definitely put that on the roadmap for 2023.

Jeffery: Well I’m excited to have you here today there’s lots of great things that we’re going to dive into and chat about but the way we kind of like to start our show is that we want to learn more about yourself so perhapsum we can kick it off by giving a little bit about your background all the way from even when you were in the United Nations the junior consultant side to your own startup because there’s so much cool stuff that we can dive into fromall the great experiences that you’ve had the schooling and then one thing about you that nobody would know.
Tiziana: Yeah sure um so let me start off by giving you abit of background about myself so I am a Belgian Italian uh citizen for whateverthat means but I’ve been traveling around for the past 10 years now a bit more um exclusively nearly exclusively on Emerging Markets so from Argentina to Colombia to then Egypt Morocco Lebanon you name itum and living in all these places so I think that’s really shaped the person I I becaeum and as you mentioned I started off my journey in a more institutional place than the one I am in today um I started off by studying a political science international relations and then a bit of love bit of risk analysis but so much more um social sciences oriented and so um I ended up working for the European Union and the United Nations um in the Middle East working on on Middle Eastern and uh and African topics so most the public policy Etc and but at the same time I always had to put some how in the entrepreneurial world that back then it was really not clearto me I wasn’t really realizing that that entrepreneurial seed was already there right um but but as you mentioned I had been launching during my studies um change makers International which was a a gapyear program so it was pretty much a program hosted by a university in Costa Rica called the UNum mandated University for peace you peace and we had set up that social entrepreneurshipum Gap year program for students we were mostly targeting students from from the US um who wanted to spend a year between high school and um and University studying learning a new language um being outside of their comfort zone a bit in in a foreign countryum and and in parallel the year after I had also supported um a French this time companyum launched their spin-off um they were a head hunting company and wanted to essentially not have any wastein the talents that they had spent time with and so they wanted to redirect the talents that they ended up not workingwith um in a closed way and redirect them um through a company and so they asked me to launch that company on the French market um these two projects so the the the the the one in France is still alive it’s not a high Birth Company but it’s still a business that’s running and that complements the activity the one in Costa Rica unfortunately um did not make it through because of regulatory hurdles who were working with people who were um under 18 um and that included a bunch of insurances Etc which we ended up not uh managing so that project never um never really saw the lights we launched it we tried it but then it I mean it didn’t it didn’t for it to take off um which is interesting because I’m now again which it starts working on other educational projects also in uh in in Emerging Markets we can come to it later anyway so started institutional alwayshad a foot um in the entrepreneurial world and today um I am fully I think in theentrepreneurial slash investors World um because I joined a company called sit Stars nearly four years agoum and she starts the company that is on a mission to have a positive impact on Emerging Markets through on the one handentrepreneurship and on the other hand Tech and so that’s essentially means we have activities articulated around twoum two big access the first one is access to Capital so venture capital andthe other one is what we could call education so either education tertiaryeducation or education in the sense of capacity building for already existing entrepreneurs so that’s a long introabout myself but that’s pretty much my my background um where where I’ve spent time what I’vebeen focusing on over um over the past few years one thing nobody knows about meum I turned my pasta in the wrong side which for in Italian is quite a strange thing to doum it’s a random fun fact but that’s one thing that nobody knows about me I turned my passport the other way around try it when you eat it’s super hard to shift the sense.

Jeffery: Um I I I’ve never I’ve never heard that that’s I’m gonna try that that’s.

Tiziana: Fascinating something nobody knew that’sit that’s the one thing that ever asks

Jeffery: That’s awesome I love it I love it uhokay so I want to kind of take back and peel back to some of these things so when I started to kind of go through your profile I know when we you and I met in Cairo we got to be on the stage a couple of times and it was really awesome just the way that everything was structured at the conference and the questions and the things that we got to talk to and one of the topics um uh I guess uh being that it was um kind of women and where they’re goingin this financial space and just overall in general um which was pretty exciting for myself being that there was three panelists and one guy so it was kind of cool um that we got to kind of share different elements of how we all viewed the world and where this was taking us but when I started to go through and learn more about it you just kind of tailored that in the last 10 years you’ve traveled a lot there’s so much really cool Parts you can almost do a travel show before we uh dive into all of the Venture stuff but um the reason why I really like this is because myself I also venture to a lot of different countries and go into the ecosystems from startups to investors and meet people along the way but from the areas that you have been in the Minaregion and you said there are more breakout areas maybe you can talk a little bit more about that because Ialso really believe that there is a huge opportunity in the African continent the Mena region which is the Middle East that there is you know there’s still a few years behind the rest of the world on big Tech and deep Tech fintech age spaces but there is a lot happening there is a lot of dollars starting to come into the market and maybe you can share some of your experiences from the time you were building this out in Costa Rica uh which Costa Rica obviously comesto mind more like a surf Town than it does uh going into deep Tech and high Innovation but starting in there and kind of working your way up to um probably Lebanon because I was recently there and I’m a huge huge hugefan of Lebanon so I I love to talk about that but just maybe a couple couple of points on what you experienced in these different communities and where you’re seeing them go today from the Costa Rica and throughout the Middle East.

Tiziana: Yeah it’s a very good region you know I’m I’m often in in Europe because I’m still European um and when I’m in Europe and I say yeah I work with startups and we invest and we see whatever people are like wowthat’s so um it’s so like marketing it’s so shiny it’s so bright so sexy whatever but I don’t think people really realize what it means to be launching a business on Emerging Markets right it means opening up your bank account as a nightmare it means setting up a company is a nightmare it means finding Talentis nearly impossible etc etc etc so I think the big um I think the big learning from allthese years of traveling around these regions is setting something up takes double the effort or maybe triple I don’t know um but it takes a lot of effort in comparison to what people think of startups in more in more developed economies whereum the infrastructure essentially to set up a company is much easier where every Everything essentially is is much easier um so so I think that’s one big learning and the other big learning is if you look at emerging markets today inevery region there is at least one country that will make its way