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Google selects 60 African startups for $4m funding

•The beneficiaries on Tuesday withFolarin Aiyegbusi (1st left)

ABUJA – Global tech giant, Google on Tuesday  announced the selection of 60 startups across Africa for $4 million funding to enable them scale up their ongoing work.

The programme, which is called Google Black Founders Fund (BFF) for startups in Africa, is the second phase of the global tech giant’s funding for African startups.

Folarin Aiyegbusi, Google’s Head of Startup Ecosystem, Sub Sahara Africa speaking at the unveiling of the beneficiaries at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, said that the startups joining the programme would receive a total of $4m in funding.

Aiyegbusi said that the startups would also receive support to enable them to scale up their ongoing work.

He said that the programme reinforced Google’s commitment to empowering entrepreneurs and startups in the region as a vital prerequisite to driving employment and growth on the continent.

‘’Africa is a diverse continent with massive opportunities but the continent is faced with the challenge of limited diversity in venture capital funding flow.

‘’We hope that the Black Founders Fund programme will be able to bridge the gap of disproportionate funding between expat startups over local and black-led companies.

‘’Each of the selected startups would receive support in the form of a six month training programme that includes access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling  challenges,’’ Aiyegbusi said.

According to him, the startups will also be part of tailored workshops, support networks  and community building sessions.

Aiyegbusi said that the 60 grantees would also get non-dilutive awards of  between $50,000 and $100,000 and up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credit.

He said that grantees, made up of 50 per cent  women-led businesses, hailed from Botswana,  Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

According to Aiyegbusi, the startups  specialised in sectors such as fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, logistics, agtech, education, hospitality and smart cities.

He listed the top five countries with the most startups selected for the programme as Nigeria with 23 grantees, Kenya with 12 grantees, and Rwanda with six grantees.

Aiyegbusi  said that South Africa had five grantees and Uganda had four grantees.

According to him, Botswana and Senegal have one selected startup each,  Cameroon and Ghana both have three grantees each while Ethiopia has two selected grantees.

Aiyegbusi said that the Google for Startups programme, which was launched in April 2012, had created over 4,600 jobs and raised more than $290 million dollars in funding.

He added that the programme would introduce the grantees in Africa  to Google’s products, connections, and best practices.

Aiyegbusi said that it would help the founders to level the playing field as they built better products and services that added value to the African  economy.

According to him, funding for the programme will be  distributed through Google’s implementation partner,  CcHUB.

Aiyegbusi said that the equity-free cash assistance to startups would enable the startups to take care of immediate needs such as paying staff, funding inventory, and maintaining software licences.

He explained that this was to help the grantees buffer the cost of taking on debt in the early stages of their businesses, as many of them had no steady revenue streams yet.

Aiyegbusi said that funding Black Founders in Africa fueled generational and systemic change.

Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi, Director General/CEO National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), at the occasion, said Nigeria has become a global supplier of tech talents.

He said the project would boost Nigeria’s Digital Economy.

According to him, “This is the a golden opportunity for our Startups, because funding is one of the biggest challenge facing the Nigeria tech ecosystem.

“We have global talent shortage, everywhere they are looking for talents. In Nigeria we have the talents that is why they are coming to tap from the pool.

“This kind of initiative will help us create more talent in country because it is the people component of technology.

“If you don’t have the people that we think and invent new ideas, there is no way we can have a good technology.

“It is an opportunity to position ourselves to be the global talent suppliers. Because we cannot compete with this big countries in terms of hardware manufacturing but in terms of software and talent. This initiative will help build more in-country talents, solve local problems and upscale them to global scale. This will open up Nigeria tech industry to the global market.”

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