It’s no secret that the startup scene in Africa is booming. Across the entire continent, startups raised $1.3 million cumulatively in 2019, and there are no signs of slowing down. Compare this number to 2015’s $200 million, it’s clear that the growth trajectory of Africa shows plenty of potential. Nigeria and Kenya comprise the major share of investment dollars, accounting for 83% of all investments in 2019.
Today, many organizations are turning to Africa in search for the next wave of innovative thinking, and in order for this to succeed, the right support and resources is necessary. With this in mind, here are a few companies that are spearheading the way:
Boost Africa is a program created to fund African businesses and harness the continent’s potential. There are three main components of Boost Africa; the investment program, the technical assistance pool, and the innovation and information lab.
The Invest Program includes seed funds and incubators, focusing on the ecosystem builders that generate opportunities. The investment component is structured as a co-investment partnership between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), who both contribute $50 million to African organizations.
The Technical Assistance Pool provides business and technical training to startup founders, and the Innovation Lab helps foster promising ideas. Participants will be able to learn new technology and trends. In software development, they might learn how to use JFrog container registry to manage containers and repositories for Kubernetes deployments. They might also learn certain programming languages or how to use tools like Jira to manage agile development projects.
Together, these components combine to form an initiative that prioritizes new African companies, and particularly those in healthcare, renewable energy, and education.
Future Africa Fund
Future Africa Fund is an angel fund dedicated exclusively to providing early stage capital exclusively to African startups. The platform provides coaching, capital, and community for startups whose missions contribute to the African ecosystem. Its “Collective” division comprises a community of co-investors who are seeking to fund startups that create innovative solutions to some of Africa’s most challenging issues.
One of its most lucrative investments is Andela, an engineering-as-a-service business that works alongside companies to help them build remote teams quickly and cost efficiently. The company boasts more than 1,000 developers, bringing plenty of jobs to the economies across Africa. The company also offers fellowships to train promising African residents, even if they have no formal educational training. According to Andela’s founder, the continent has the largest pool of untapped talent in the world, and they hope to change that.
Like Andela, Tunga aims to connect clients with African developers. One of their primary missions is to help tackle the youth unemployment rate and educate the people of tomorrow. Consider these harrowing statistics: in Uganda, 78% of the population is under 30, and 83% of youth are unemployed. This is largely due to lagging infrastructure, English language barrier, and few educational resources. Headquartered in Uganda, the company works with clients around the world, although all of their developers hail from Africa, namely in Uganda, Nigeria, and Egypt.
Google Developers Training Courses
Google offers online development courses to help support the new wave of African software developers. According to the corporation, they have “a vision to help bridge the developer-skills gap in Africa by providing better access to high-quality, world-class skilling on mobile technologies and platforms. We aim to train 100,000 developers and aspiring new developers across Africa.” Through its development training program, users can learn a series of programming languages across different levels.
Y Combinator is an incubator program headquartered in Silicon Valley, California. Although it isn’t located in Africa, the program is dedicated to creating incubator classes that include a diverse set of startups. In 2018, only 35% of its startups came from the United States, and since 2015, the incubator has brought in 19 African startups.
What makes Y Combinator such a noteworthy program is that it is arguably the best incubator program in the world. Acceptance rates into the program are even lower than Ivy League admissions. The program is highly selective and highly connected; they provide some of the best mentorships and connection opportunities, which are crucial for early stage startups.