UNDP to launch $1bn financing initiative to support African start-ups

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to launch an initiative to mobilize and invest one billion dollars of public and private capital over ten years, to spark a Startup Revolution in Africa tagged ‘Timbuktoo’.

The initiative is set for launch in Nigeria on Wednesday, August 17 at Landmark events Lagos.

According to a statement from UNDP Africa, it aims to engage a large number of private and public sector partners to establish it is expected that eight Timbuktoo hubs will be established across Africa’s leading startup ecosystems (Accra, Nairobi, Cape Town, Lagos, Dakar, Kigali, Casablanca, and Cairo, among others) and will start operations in 2023.

The organisers say each hub will focus on a different priority sector that cuts across Fintech, Agritech, Healthtech, Greentech, Creatives, Tradetech and Logistics, Smart Cities and Mobility, and Tourismtech and each housing a Venture Builder and a Venture Fund.

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The structure of the massive undertaking includes a Parent Fund of catalytic grant capital, in partnership with impact-minded catalytic partners, that would finance the network of Hubs and also a HeadQuarters. The Parent Fund would also inject a minority share in each of the Hub Venture Funds, which are commercially oriented, in the form of guarantees or first-loss capital, the statement said.

This initiative which was launched by UNDP in 2021 hopes to extend its hand to 18 countries by 2023. Timbuktoo encourages innovation among African students as its University Innovation Pods (UniPods) established in ten African Lower-Income Countries (Benin, Chad, Guinea Conakry, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo, and Uganda) is set to start operations by end of 2022.

Since its inception, the Timbuktoo initiative has moved rapidly on several fronts. In addition to resource mobilization and engaging host governments for the setup of eight Timbuktoo pan-African Hubs in leading startup ecosystems, envisaged to become operational in 2023, Timbuktoo has also spearheaded the establishment of University Innovation Pods (UniPods), at 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 objective of encouraging students in universities to engage in innovation and design thinking. The UniPods will become operational by the end of 2022, and thus Timbuktoo’s reach will extend to eighteen African countries by 2023, the statement said.

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