The Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab has appointed social entrepreneur Joshua Romisher as CEO.Romisher has played a material role in building two Pan-African solar companies that brought clean, reliable energy to more than 2.5 million people across 10 countries and created over 1 000 full-time jobs.
“I believe every business should have a social conscience,” says Romisher.LaunchLab is Stellenbosch University’s start-up incubator, founded for university spin-outs and other start-ups from the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
However, Romisher plans to open up LaunchLab to companies across Africa in 2020.Romisher brings with him a decade of experience primarily in Debt Capital Markets at Credit Suisse Securities in New York and San Francisco.
He also helped build Braver Stearn, an innovative start-up trading platform, during the 2008 Financial Crisis. Romisher has spent the last six years launching businesses across ten sub-Saharan African countries. During this time, he raised more than $250 million from numerous investor’s groups to fund start-ups.
“Most people in Africa will never be connected to the grid. They will go with solar energy from the start. In the same way as most people in Africa never experienced a landline. Instead, their first and only means of communication was a mobile phone,” he said.
For Romisher social and business are one and the same thing. “Good business needs to be social and social companies need to be a business. And it should be for-profit to be sustainable.”Romisher believes amidst disruption there is always opportunity. He sees the challenges South Africa faces as opportunities for entrepreneurs to rethink business.
For him, the role of LaunchLab is to set the stage for entrepreneurs to bring their ideas where they can be moulded into a sustainable, life-changing business.