Google has announced the selection of 60 eligible black-founded startups across Africa for the second cohort of ‘Google for Startups Black Founders Fund’ (BFF) for Africa. The startups joining the program will receive a total of $4million in funding and support to enable them to scale up their ongoing work.
The grantees, made up of 50 percent women-led businesses, from Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda, in sectors such as fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, logistics, agtech, education, hospitality and smart cities.
Speaking during the launch of the second cohort in Abuja on Tuesday, the Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, said that the program will enable the continent, especially Nigeria to identify technical areas critical to ignite activities within the Tech ecosystem.
According to him, startups are prone to challenges including access to funding, talent, infrastructure.
He said, “We know that we cannot succeed in isolation, we need all critical stakeholders to be onboard. Like funding, funding is a challenge especially when we talk about early stage funding in Africa. So this is an opportunity to address the funding gap and also it is coming with other incentives like training, infrastructure and other things.
“So on our side as a government, we believe it is our responsibility to come up with policies that can enable them to succeed and the government has been doing a lot in this area, starting with expanding the mandate to cover the digital economy.”
Speaking further, Inuwa noted that the Nigeria start up bill which was recently passed into law by the National Assembly also shows the commitment of the government towards creating the right environment for startups in Nigeria.
“The National assembly has passed the Nigeria startup bill into law, to help come up with a legal and institutional framework that will enable you to easily and conveniently start and grow a business in the country.
“In addition to that, there are other initiatives we are working on; talent gap assessment because we believe talent is the people’s side of technology and we know that in Africa, we cannot compete with the outside world in terms of hardware and any technology,” he added.
Each of the selected startups will receive support in the form of a 6 month training program that include access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling identified challenges, get non-dilutive awards of between $50,000 and $100,000 and up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credit as well be part of tailored workshops, support networks and community building sessions.
The top five countries with the most startups selected for the program are Nigeria with twenty-three grantees, Kenya with twelve grantees, Rwanda with six grantees, South Africa with five grantees and Uganda with four grantees. Botswana and Senegal have one selected startup each, Cameroon and Ghana both have three grantees each while Ethiopia has two selected grantees.
In his remark, Head of Startup Ecosystem, Folarin Aiyegbusi noted that the Google for Startups program which was launched in April 2012, has created over 4,600 jobs and raised more than $290M in funding.
According to him, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund program will introduce the grantees in Africa to Google’s products, connections, and best practices which will help the founders to level the playing field as they build better products and services that add value to the Africa economy.
“Africa is a diverse continent with massive opportunity but the continent is faced with the challenge of limited diversity in venture capital funding flow. We hope that the Black Founders Fund program will be able to bridge the gap of disproportionate funding between expat startups over local and black-led companies.
“The previous program was able to deliver over 500 jobs, so this time we are having 60 start ups so you can imagine how many jobs will spring up from them. This time, its gender split, having 50 percent female is a milestone for us considering the inequity women businesses face. We have also selected start ups from 10 different countries across the continent. 23 of them are from Nigeria.
“The equity-free cash assistance to startups will enable them to take care of immediate needs such as paying staff, funding inventory, and maintaining software licenses. This is to help the grantees buffer the cost of taking on debt in the early stages of their business as many of them do not have steady revenue streams yet,” he said.
Abimbola Adebakin, CEO, MyMedicines and alumni of the 2021 BFF program, “Programs like the Black Founders Fund enhance the African ecosystem – where we currently have gaps in funding and infrastructure. Google getting involved and throwing its might behind thriving entrepreneurs in Africa is a beautiful thing, and I am very happy that Google has continued the Black Founders Fund in Africa initiative in 2022.”