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French Government Commits Additional $150M Funding for 500 African Tech Startups

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French President Emmanuel Macron has made a new EUR130 million (US$150 million) commitment to support 500 African startups as part of redefining the Digital Africa Initiative.

Launched in 2018 with the mission to equip African tech entrepreneurs with capabilities to design and scale-up ground-breaking innovations for the real economy, Digital Africa brings together startups, academia, incubators, institutional financiers, venture capitalists and technology clusters to help develop the African startup space.

President Macron’s renewed financial commitment of EUR130 million was made at the New Africa-France Summit last week and said it covers the next three years. He further affirmed that Digital Africa is now part of Proparco, the private sector subsidiary of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

At the event, Digital Africa also unveiled a host of new programmes. In terms of financing, it announced the Fuzé project, which focuses on Francophone Africa and aims to support at least 200 tech startups by early 2022 via a new small ticket fund. This will provide, in stages, funds of between EUR10,000 (US$12,000) to EUR200,000 (US$230,000) in the form of repayable loans.

In terms of skills, Digital Africa has joined forces with Make IT and the German government to set up Talent4StartUps, a fellowship programme designed to meet the needs of talents that have been trained in tech and digital, and put them in touch with startups actively recruiting.

More broadly, Digital Africa will continue to develop non-financial activities such as knowledge production, training, networking, research, and support for the evolution of regulatory frameworks, while having the opportunity to raise funds from other public or private donors. This will be enabled by its new status as a subsidiary of Proparco.

“Digital Africa’s new organisation, redefined with our partners, allows us to reinforce our commitment to “made in Africa” tech innovations and become a factory for future African unicorns. Startups need a one-stop-shop combining training, research, project-structuring, support to pro-tech and pro-innovation reforms, and financing,” said Digital Africa’s chief executive officer (CEO) Stéphan-Eloise Gras.

“From now on, thanks to the merger with Proparco, they will find in Digital Africa a partner capable of offering them support from ideation and seed to growth and hypergrowth. By putting tech at the service of transparency and efficiency in development aid, and by getting closer to the private sector, Digital Africa wants to make a long-lasting difference.”

The Digital Africa team is now preparing a roadshow that will take place at the end of this quarter and will stop in several African regions to strengthen connections with key partners and players, promote the programmes, and invite African startups to apply. These field trips will also be an opportunity to finalise new projects, including the “product-market fit academy” designed to improve the suitability of tech solutions for local markets, to be launched in 2022.

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26 Young African Entrepreneurs Qualifies For Anzisha Prize Fellowship, Receives $20K Each

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The Anzisha Prize Fellowship has revealed its top 26 entrepreneurs for 2021. The entrepreneurs, who are between the ages of 18 and 22, will each receive more than US$5,000 in funding and more than US$15,000 worth of venture building support services over three years, which are aligned with the prestigious fellowship’s new structure of enabling young people to receive the financial and mentoring support they need to succeed.

“We’ve seen clearly that a transition from secondary or tertiary education directly into sustainable entrepreneurship requires both financial and learning support,” comments Josh Adler, Executive Director of the Anzisha Prize. “Through our long-term partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, we’re thrilled to not only announce an increase in the number of fellowships we can offer each year but also in the monetary support each venture will receive.”

The 2021 Anzisha Fellows were selected from hundreds of applications across Africa and passed multiple stages of vetting and evaluation. Applicants were from countries such as Mali, Togo, South Africa, and Madagascar and running businesses in education, health, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and beauty. These young Africans are demonstrating how it’s possible to pursue entrepreneurship as a career in the face of the pandemic.

In selecting 26 fellows this year, the annual Anzisha Prize fellowship has more than doubled in size since its first selection process, which included 12 innovative, young, African entrepreneurs in 2011. In that time, Anzisha’s venture-building support team has worked closely with over 150 early-age entrepreneurs in over 30 African countries. We have developed a pioneering approach to coaching, skills development, and business support that has now been packaged into a three-year learning journey.

“Our fellowship offering has essentially been reframed as an alternative or accompaniment to university education for entrepreneurs in this age group,” adds Adler. “The grand prizes, which recognized achievement prior to selection as a fellow, will now recognize excellence from young entrepreneurs who role model job creation, venture growth, storytelling, and process improvements during their fellowship.”

The selected top 26 entrepreneurs represent 17 countries with 30 percent being Francophone. They include Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Nigeria has the largest cohort with four in the top 26. Young women are well represented, making up 10 of the 26 entrepreneurs.

“Young African entrepreneurs have continuously shown that they can rise to the challenge when given an opportunity. And what a challenging 19 months it has been for our world. Yet the caliber of innovators we consistently see apply to this program, proving that the rebuilding and reimagining of economies can be entrusted to young people. We are committed to supporting the growth of the Anzisha Prize and betting on the potential of young entrepreneurs to drive transformation,” says Philip Cotton, Director of Human Capital Development at the Mastercard Foundation.

After the selection process, the entrepreneurs will participate in a virtual induction boot camp for 10 days where they will engage with business leaders and past winners of the prize. The boot camp will prepare them for what lies ahead over the next three years.

The top 26 were selected this year, in a four-part series that follows the Anzisha Prize team and their search for Africa’s youngest, most exciting entrepreneurs.

The 2021 Anzisha Prize Fellows are:

Constant Ayihounoun, Benin, 21 – Constant is the founder of Agreco Sarl, a company that produces organic fertilizers and pesticides.

Sergio Tabe Ashu, Cameroon, 21 – Sergio is the founder of Excel Academy, which provides private home tutoring services to K-12 students and national exam preparatory classes for senior secondary school students.

Hebrey Issa Abraham, Cameroon, 21 – Hebrey is the founder of DATA, which produces and sells vegetables.

Krys Elfried Digbehi, Côte D’Ivoire, 18 – Krys is the founder of Yeyiba Restaurants. The venture cooks and sells African and European dishes to local colleges, high schools, and universities.

Victoire Bakunzi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 21 – Victoire is the founder of Basuyi business that produces African-style jackets and tunics.

Oumar Diogo Sow, Guinea, 22 – Oumar is the founder of Felian Trading Limited. The business cultivates rice and cassava.

Martin Sure Ondiwa, Kenya, 21 – Martin is the founder of Greenfarms, a company that produces and sells fresh fruits to consumers and vendors.

Tsantatiana Fideranaharilala Rakotoarimanga, Madagascar, 22 – Tsantatiana is the founder of Dream Study Agency. The agency helps students in Madagascar apply to universities abroad.

Mahefarivo Thierry Andrianarinoa, Madagascar, 21 – Mahefarivo and two of his friends founded Coufé Madagascar. Coufé is a fashion brand that specializes in embroidered, customizable t-shirts that are handmade by women detained in prison.

Martin Masiya, Malawi, 21 – Martin is the founder of Sollys Energy, which distributes solar lamps and solar lanterns using a Pay-As-You-Go model for customers in semi-urban and rural areas.

Adama Kanté, Mali, 22 – Adama is the founder of Food Sante, which is a production and processing company for agrifood products.

Ali Ould Mohamed, Mali, 18 – Ali is the founder of Créa-Couture, a clothing company that sells a variety of products such as pants, skirts, shirts, and suits for men and women.

Renata Silva, Namibia, 19 – Renata is the founder of RS Clothing Brand, which sells trendy clothes to young people between the ages of 15-25.

Eneyi Oshi, Nigeria, 19 – Eneyi is the founder of Maatalous Nasah. The business farms chickens, fish, and eggs to sell to urban dwellers through an e-commerce web application called Farmisphere.

Esther Akin-Ajayi, Nigeria, 19 – Esther is the founder of Jemai Interiors, which sells furniture pieces and architectural materials. They also render interior designs and offer 3D visualization services to other architectural companies and individuals.

Oluwadamilola Akinosun, Nigeria, 22 – Damilola is one of the founders of Grant Master, an online marketplace that connects ambitious organizations that are in need of debt-free and equity-free funding. The organizations in need are connected with grant writers.

Grace Okezie, Nigeria, 22 – Grace is the founder of Royal Graced Baking Company, which bakes and sells healthy snacks and foods to customers.

Rebecca Samuella Kalokoh, Sierra Leone, 20 – Rebecca is the founder of Grace Venture Natural Products, which extracts oils from seeds, herbs, and fruits to produce natural cosmetics that are sold in the local markets of Sierra Leone.

Amadu Deen Bah, Sierra Leone, 21 – Amadu is the founder of Caballay Investment, which produces paper bags and bags for packaging that is sold to local businesses.

Masello Mokhoro, South Africa, 22 – Masello is the founder of Starlicious Enterprises. She grows day-old broiler chicks and pigs and sells them to individuals in her community.

Doroles Mihanjo, Tanzania, 20 – Dolores is the founder of Maktaba. The business sells educational documents such as past papers, notes, and online content books to parents, schools, and teachers.

Rebecca Taboukouna, Togo, 22 – Rebecca is the founder of RBK Pearls, which manufactures and sells beaded accessories.

Jovia Nassuna Kintu, Uganda, 21 – Jovia manufactures and sells affordable organic shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products. She founded Kia Cosmetics to provide women with an alternative to hair care products containing chemical additives.

Viola Kataike, Uganda, 21 – Viola founded her venture in 2020 to impact the lives of refugee communities. A Hand for a Refugee trains members of Kyangwali refugee camp in growing and harvesting passion fruit.

Munyaradzi Makosa, Zimbabwe, 21 – Munyaradzi Makosa is the founder of Farmhut Africa, an online marketplace designed to connect farmers in rural Zimbabwe directly to the market.

Tafadzwa Chikwereti, Zimbabwe, 21 – Tafadzwa launched Murimi Electronic Agriculture using artificial intelligence and machine learning. The business helps financial institutions to process loans faster, and farmers to ascertain their financial health.

About Anzisha Prize Fellowship

The Anzisha Prize is a venture-building fellowship program that has successfully supported and championed very young entrepreneurs for over 10 years. The fellowship is a three-year program that celebrates and rewards business growth.

Anzisha Prize applications for the 2022 cohort of young business owners open on 20 October 2021.

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Youverify, OnePort, 14 Other African Startups Named Finalists For 2021 VC4A Venture Showcase

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Two Nigerian startups, Youverify a digital identity service and OnePort a freight management platform, have been named with other 14 African startups as finalists for the VC4A Venture Showcase.

At the VC4A Venture Showcase finals, 16 seed and series A level African tech startup will pitch their businesses to potential funders at the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit next month.

Since 2017, the VC4A Venture Showcase has helped startup founders showcase their businesses to investors during the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit, a signature industry event organised by VC4A and the African Business Angels Network (ABAN).

This year’s event will take place on the 4th and 5th of November, and will feature the showcase, which will be divided into two tracks – seed and Series A.

The seed startups, seeking funding rounds that range between US$400,000 and US$8 million, are Mozambique-based logistics startup Appload, Kenyan loyalty app CashBackApp, Kenyan fintech FlexPay, Ivory Coast-based transport Moja Ride, Nigerian freight management platform OnePort, Madagascan ed-tech service Sayna, Egyptian logistics startup ShipBlu, and Ghanaian fintech Waya.

The Series A startups, which are aiming to raise between US$1.5 million and US$10 million, are Botswana-based insurtech startup Alpha Direct, Kenyan ed-tech platform Arifu, Moroccan e-commerce app Chari, Ivory Coast-based payment aggregator Cinetpay, Moroccan logistics service CloudFret, Egyptian B2B super app Fatura, Egyptian e-health startup Rology, and Nigerian digital identity service Youverify.

Over the next six weeks, the selected startups will participate in a virtual investor readiness programme, including workshops by renowned African VC investors, office hours with domain experts, guest speaker sessions, and opportunities to interact with and learn from mentors, peers, and partners. They will also be linked to top VC investors for one-on-one mentorship.

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50 Percent Of Global Tech Unicorns Are in the U.S

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The United States of America is presently home to 50 percent of the world’s tech Unicorns, privately held startup companies worth over $1 billion, according to a report by GlobalData.

The report showed as of August 31, 2021, there were 751 tech unicorns in the world, out of which 379 with a combined valuation of $1.3 trillion are headquartered in the United States.

Most of these unicorns are those operating within the cloud, fintech, healthtech, big data and cybersecurity fields, the report noted. “In fact, 70% of cloud unicorns are based in the country, as well as 46% of fintech unicorns and 68% of healthtech unicorns”,  stated Priya Toppo, Analyst for the Thematic Team at GlobalData.

US tech unicorns emerged even stronger following the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the slowdown experienced in the first half of 2020 when just 22 new unicorn startups were created. The number rose about 600 percent to 136 in the first half of 2021.

Toppo further explained that “Stripe is the most valuable tech unicorn in the US, with a valuation of $95bn, followed by SpaceX ($74bn) and Instacart ($39bn).

“California has emerged as the ‘land of tech unicorns’ in the US. It hosts 205 of the 379 tech unicorns in the Americas, followed by New York (64) and Massachusetts (17).”

“While GlobalData expects the tech unicorn club in the US to grow further, it also expects at least 35 unicorns from the US to exit the unicorn club (going public, either through IPO or M&A) in the next two years. The biggest companies that are anticipated to list on the public market are Instacart, Stripe, Chime, Ripple and Databricks.”

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