Finance is the usual suspect when start-ups in Africa bemoan limitations to their growth. At other times, technical expertise is also a factor. During a chat with Danielle Morris, global public health equity lead, Amazon Web Services (AWS), on the side-lines of this year’s re:Invent, she highlighted the AWS Health Equity Initiative, a $40 million commitment to supporting innovators and researchers leverage AWS technology.
With over $14 million already issued in AWS cloud compute credits or promotional credits and technical expertise to support innovators and their dreams, there is still more financial aid that other start-ups can get.
Hurone AI, by Nigeria’s Kinglsey Ndoh, according to her is an example of start-ups that have benefited from this. Others are Jacaranda Health, a maternal health non-profit based in Kenya, which since 2007 has supported 2.4 million facility based births.
“It’s more about awareness,” she says, on start-ups tapping into these opportunities. According to her, since launching in 2021 the Health Equity Initiative has been actively working with various teams as well as innovators across Africa to create awareness that this is a resource that’s available to them. “It’s open to all innovators who are using cloud technology,” she says.
For David Roldán, head of Startup BD, EMEA, “Part of what really excites AWS about the potential for start-ups and cloud within the continent of Africa is the population.” It creates an opportunity for people to become entrepreneurs, through different specialisations.
Noting that examples of success stories already abound in fintech, he says, more importantly is that every success story helps to create a micro community of people that go off to then reinvest back into the ecosystem and create new companies.
To support the ecosystem, AWS endeavours to be there for them in the early stages, to provide them with best in class support. Through AWS Activate, its flagship startup program, over $6 billion has been provided in credits for cloud over the last ten years. Also providing technical infrastructure support.
He highlights Cellulant, which has reported growth due to intervention from AWS, processing at least 12 million transactions a day across 120,000,000 accounts, something that they couldn’t do in the last year. “Their comment is they’ve seen aspirational growth,” he says and has in fact actually increased their speed.
However, opportunities to embrace clouds still abound in Africa. “I think it’s important that we help people understand the art of the possible,” says Roldan. Therefore, he sees continuous investments in skills development as important for the future of Africa.
“The challenge is that we need to make sure that we’re helping to inspire more people and provide them with where and how to access information that enables them to grow,” he says.