Google has announced the launch and opening of applications of a new US$3 million Black Founders Fund (BFF) Africa programme, and a Google.org-backed US$3 million grant to the Tony Elumelu Foundation to support female entrepreneurs on the continent.
15 startups from across the continent had been selected for the sixth cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, which kicks off today. The three-month online programme, which includes virtual training bootcamps, mentorship and Google product support, is designed to support these nascent businesses through their early growth phases.
In a further show of support for innovation on the continent, a new US$3 million Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Africa is launching as part of Google’s global commitment to support underserved communities. This fund, which is part of the company’s racial equity commitments announced in June 2020, will provide cash awards and hands-on support to 50 black-led startups in Africa.
Unlike most startup investments, it does not require founders to give up any equity in exchange for funding. Google will be working with the Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), a Google for Startups partner and leading tech community hub with presence in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda, to distribute the funding to the selected companies across Africa.
Applications are now open for access to funding, as well as technical and business support, for 50 early-stage startups across the continent in 2021. BFF Africa is open to all startups in Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, that meet the eligibility criteria. Applications will close on July 7.
“It’s encouraging to see Google’s continued dedication to strengthening and elevating the startup ecosystem in Africa. Google was one of the early believers in tech entrepreneurs on the continent and this support over the last 10 years reflects a thoughtful commitment. This programme is extremely timely and will not only empower founders across the continent but also deepen the pipeline and unlock follow-on funding from both local and foreign investors,” said Bosun Tijani, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at CcHub.
“Google understands that the growth and success of one player in the startup space lays the path for others. This is what drives the commitment to empowering entrepreneurs and startups and effectively driving employment and enabling both economic and social development on the continent. We are determined to help black founders grow their businesses, not just through access to capital but also through access to the best of Google’s resources,” said Nitin Gajria, managing director of Google Sub-Saharan Africa.
Google.org’s US$3 million grant to the Tony Elumelu Foundation will go towards providing entrepreneurship training, mentorship and coaching to at least 5,000 women with low digital skills, who come from rural areas and currently operate in an informal sector. Seed capital in the form of one-time cash grants will also be provided to 500 African women aspiring entrepreneurs in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and select Francophone countries.
“We are dedicated to building a world where all women can thrive. According to data collected by the World Bank in 10 African countries, male-owned enterprises have six times more capital than female-owned enterprises. This huge capital gap is not stopping the rise of female entrepreneurs, but it slows them down and makes their journeys that much more challenging. We hope that the grant to The Tony Elumelu Foundation will help accelerate the growth of women techmakers and entrepreneurs in Africa,” said Gajria.