Google to Support African Startups in a new US$6mn funding Program


Google has committed US$6 million to support African startups as well as underserved communities on the continent.

In a statement, Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google Africa, and Rowan Barnett the Head of EMEA said the funding will go towards programs that will reaffirm its commitment to Africa.

The programs include a $3 million USD Black Founders Fund for African startups and a $3 million USD grant to help low-income communities develop entrepreneurial skills and funding.

The funding is expected to help African founders grow their businesses not only by providing capital but also by providing access to the best of Google resources.

At the same time, Google has also invited 15 companies from across the continent to the sixth class of the Google for Startups Accelerator: Africa program

Startup Fund

The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Africa provides grants and technical assistance to early-stage startups led by black and diverse teams, or with a goal of advancing the Black community.

According to Google, the $3M non-dilutive fund will be allocated across a pipeline of 50 investable startups in Africa, with each firm receiving up to $100,000 in cash awards.

Each selected company will also receive $220,000 in Google Cloud Credits and Ad Grants, as well as mentoring, technical, and scaling assistance from the best of Google. The equity-free fund is available to entrepreneurs developing for Africa, on the continent.

“We have partnered with the Co-Creation Hub, a Google for Startups partner and leading tech community hub with presence in Nigeria, Kenya, and Rwanda, to distribute the funding to the 50 selected companies across Africa. Applications are open from today until July 7th and eligible startups can visit now to apply,” Nitin and Barnett said in the statement. Grant

The US$3 million grant will target entrepreneurs tackling day-to-day problems on a smaller, but equally, significant scale, operating beyond the tech startup scene.

Its choice of investment comes against an array of studies that indicate that entrepreneurship is essential for unlocking the essential economic benefits that Africa needs to prosper in a post-pandemic environment via employment and wealth development.

Google says the funding will therefore be given to the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who through their annual entrepreneurship program will provide entrepreneurship training, mentorship, coaching, and access to networks and key markets for at least 5000 women, as well as seed capital in the form of one-time cash grants to 500 African female informal business-owners in rural and low-income communities across Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and select Francophone countries.

“We believe this will enable and prepare these women who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to navigate their independent businesses journey through the critical start-up and early growth phase,” the representatives of Google said.

Startup Accelerator for Africa

Google says it has already selected 15 high potential startups to join its Google for Startups Accelerator: Africa program.

The class includes 47 percent of women co-founders from across 7 countries and 7 sectors.

“These companies are using technology to build exciting products and solve some of Africa’s biggest challenges with massive potential to contribute to the billion-dollar African internet economy GDP,” the company said.

The selected startups include Kenya’s Angaza Elimu, Ethiopia’s PayWay, Rwanda’s Tabiri Analytics, Nigeria’s Vittas International, and South Africa’s Whoosh, among others.

“The programs we’re launching today are essential to our efforts to create platforms and initiatives that will aid in the development of Africa’s digital economy. We are thrilled to be a part of this story.”

Introduced in 2018, the program supports the startup ecosystem. So far, Google says it has supported 67 startups from 17 African countries that have collectively raised US$72 million and created 2,800 direct jobs.

The program comes at a time when the internet has been noted of playing a key role in Africa’s economic transition, generating new possibilities and paving the path for economic and social growth.

According to a 2020 report by the International Finance Corporation, Africa’s Internet economy is expected to contribute nearly $189 billion to the continent’s overall GDP by 2025, rising to $712 billion by 2050.

The IFC report noted that tech talent in Africa is at a historical peak and continues to rise annually.

It indicates that there are 690,000 professional developers across Africa with more than 50 percent concentrated in 5 key African countries: Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.

“While there are challenges confronting startups in the African ecosystem, there remains an abundance of opportunities and increased venture capital inflow to the continent,” the report notes.

Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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