Africa Tech Trends: The Age of Start-Up Accelerators
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The age of acceleration
Start-up accelerators are common in Europe and the United States, where the likes of Y Combinator and Startupbootcamp have emerged as leaders in the model and have offered hundreds of start-ups both equity funding and mentorship to assist them in scaling. But in Africa the concept is still very young, having only really arrived in 2012.
88mph was to some extent a pioneer, launching its accelerator in Kenya in 2012 before taking it to South Africa in 2013 and Nigerialast year. But with 2015 underway there are accelerators of all shapes and sizes springing up across the continent. All that remains is for these programmes to find sustainable models for operations in African markets.
Rwanda held its first accelerator programme last year, organised by Tigo-backed ‘think’. Cameroon’s ActivSpaces is running the country’s first programme this year. And applications are open for SPRING in East Africa, which focuses on assisting young women in poverty.
Other programmes in both Kenya and South Africa are assisting green start-ups. Applications are open for no fewer than three virtual incubators. Village Capital is running a FinTech for Agriculture accelerator in East Africa.
However finding a sustainable model remains the issue, with much debate around the topic in Africa right now. 88mph may be one example, but the fund has stopped investing in Kenya for the time being and only really saw one tangible success story in South Africa. The latest breed will be hoping that focusing on more niche subjects will lead to success.
MasterCard stepping up African activity
Global giants are increasingly stepping up their activities in Africa. I recently wrote about Uber’s activities on the continent, while Facebook is also upping the stakes. The same can be seen in financial services where MasterCard is beefing up its African operations.