The World Bank Group, through its newly launched XL Africa programme, will help 20 selected digital start-ups attract early stage capital between $250 000 and $1.5 million.
XL Africa is a five-month business acceleration initiative designed to support start-ups from Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the World Bank, the companies will receive mentoring from global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors.
Makhtar Diop, vice-president for Africa at World Bank, says digital start-ups are important drivers of innovation in Africa.
“To scale and spread new technologies and services beyond borders, they need an integrated ecosystem that provides access to regional markets and global finance. Pan-African initiatives like XL Africa play a critical role by linking local start-ups with corporations and investors across the continent.”
XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A and Koltai & Co.
The programme’s flagship activity includes an all-expenses-paid residency in Cape Town, where the ventures will have the opportunity to meet potential mentors, partners and other XL Africa start-ups.
It also includes workshops and face-to-face mentoring. The Cape Town residency will conclude with the Venture Showcase, a regional event in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors. The Venture Showcase Day coincides with another big Cape Town event in November, AfricaCom, which is hosted by a partner of XL Africa.
The programme has also collaborated with African investment groups, including the African Business Angel Network, AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell Investments, Knife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network, TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital, and corporate partners, such as Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.
In the African Digitalisation Maturity Report 2017 by Siemens, it is highlighted that African countries have a lot of needs, and digital can solve many of these by using disruptive technology to develop markets, governments, services and societies.
“Sophisticated organisations should put great emphasis on creating awareness around digitalisation as this has become a business imperative and no longer a pending trend. The greatest challenge in digitalising Africa lies in integrating all stakeholders to collaborate more effectively. There is a clear requirement for integration between government, regulators, society, local ‘family’ businesses, large international organisations and the public sector,” noted the report.
Klaus Tilmes, director of the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group, adds the programme aims to spotlight the continent’s growing digital economy by scouting for and supporting the most innovative tech start-ups. “The success of these ventures will create a demonstration effect that can attract much-needed growth investment in the sector and catalyse scaling of transnational businesses in the region.”
Source: Nigeria Communications Week