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UNDP Africa unveils initiative to spur entrepreneurship revolution

UNDP to support African countries with data on credit ratings methodologies

The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa unveiled the Timbuktoo initiative, a revolutionary start-up financing facility for Africa on August 17, 2022.

The launch which was held at Landmark center in Lagos state, brought together representatives from a wide range of organizations including governments, private sector, development partners, universities as well as start-ups.

The aim of the initiative is to mobilize and invest one billion dollars in public and private funding over the next decade to help spur the startup revolution across Africa.

According to UNDP Africa, Timbuktoo will be a game-changing addition to UNDP Africa’s mission to transform the African continent by leveraging the African people themselves, especially its ambitious, dynamic youth, as the key to its growth and path out of poverty.

“The goal is for more than 1,000 startups to grow to a significant size and have a positive effect on more than 100 million people’s lives and the environment, generating a ten-fold return of over ten billion dollars in wealth and value creation for Africa’s economies.”

Read also: Experts task startups on legal compliance, others to attract funding

Speaking at the event, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, Chief Innovation Officer, UNDP Africa said the Timbuktoo approach will be based on finding, nurturing, and building African solutions put forward by Africa’s youth that directly address one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We’re opening a timbuktoo hub in Lagos and we hope to utilize Africa’s youth brilliance to make it a worldwide knowledge and innovation powerhouse.The initiative is multifaceted and seeks to support and grow innovative, scalable, and impactful entrepreneurship by young Africans.

“It does this by relying on a springboard of partners who, when working together, make a big difference in building an innovation and startup ecosystem for young Africans,” Gabre-Madhin further said.

The programme has made significant progress since its inception in 2021. It has also taken the lead in setting up University Innovation Pods (UniPods) at the national level in ten Lower-Income Countries in Africa (Benin, Chad, Guinea Conakry, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo, and Uganda) with the goal of encouraging students to engage in innovation and design thinking.

The UniPods are expected to be ready for use by the end of 2022 with the hope of expanding Timbuktoo’s reach to 18 African countries by 2023.

We are now already setting up 10 unique pods that will be operational by the end of 2022, according to Gabre-Madhin.

“We hope to have the parent fund launched in 2023 and the first wave of hubs will start with four. The second wave of four hubs will start in early 2024. This is not a donor project.

“This is a private facing ecosystem approach. So, each of the hubs will be run by a consortium of ecosystem players. This is an opportunity to integrate and leverage the ecosystem that we already have and grow it.”