By Obioma A.
As of its efforts to give lifeline to tech-business innovators in Africa and also foster decent job creation, the world most popular search engine in the world, GOOGLE, has announced an award of a whopping sum of $4 million startups funds to 60 eligible technologically inclined businesses founded by Africans citizens residing in the continent through its Black Founders Fund project.
The event which held in Abuja on Tuesday 6 September, 2022, was attended by Nigerian government officials, Google representatives, some of the beneficiaries and members of the public.
According to Googles’ Head, Startup Ecosystem Africa, Mr. Folarin Aiyegbusi, the winners of the startup fund will also receive support in the form of 6 month training program and non-dilutive awards of $50,000, $100,000 and $200,000 accordingly.
A statement made available to journalists at the event, noted that since the Black Founders Fund was launched in 2021, the innovative project has led to the creation of over 4,600 jobs across Africa and has raised over $290 million.
“60 eligible black-founded startups across Africa have been selected for the second cohort of Google for Startups Black Founders Fund (BFF) for Africa. The startups joining the program will receive a total of $4million in funding and support to enable them to scale up their ongoing work.
“Each of the selected startups will receive support in the form of a 6 month training programme that includes access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling challenges that are unique to them. They will also be part of tailored workshops, support networks and community building sessions. The 60 grantees will also get non-dilutive awards of between $50,000 and $100,000 and up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credit.” The statement, said.
Furthermore, it added; “The grantees, made up of 50% women-led businesses, hail from Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. They specialise in sectors such as fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, logistics, agtech, education, hospitality and smart cities. The top five countries with the most startups selected for the program are Nigeria with twenty-three grantees, Kenya with twelve grantees, Rwanda with six grantees, South Africa with five grantees and Uganda with four grantees. Botswana and Senegal have one selected startup each, Cameroon and Ghana both have three grantees each while Ethiopia has two selected grantees.”
Earlier Folarin Aiyegbusi, said that “Africa is a diverse continent with massive opportunity but the continent is faced with the challenge of limited diversity in venture capital funding flow. We hope that the Black Founders Fund program will be able to bridge the gap of disproportionate funding between expat startups over local and black-led companies.”
“The statement again said; “Launched in April 2012, the Google for Startups program has created over 4,600 jobs and raised more than $290M in funding. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund program will introduce the grantees in Africa to Google’s products, connections, and best practices which will help the founders to level the playing field as they build better products and services that add value to the Africa economy.
“Funding for the Google for Startup Black Founders Fund will be distributed through Google’s implementation partner, CcHUB. “The equity-free cash assistance to startups will enable them to take care of immediate needs such as paying staff, funding inventory, and maintaining software licences. This is to help the grantees buffer the cost of taking on debt in the early stages of their business as many of them do not have steady revenue streams yet”, Aiyegbusi concludes.
“Funding Black founders in Africa fuels generational and systemic change. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund for Africa program reinforces Google’s commitment to empowering entrepreneurs and startups in the region as a vital prerequisite to driving employment and growth on the continent.”
In his remarks, the Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said; “Funding is one of the biggest challenge facing the entrepreneurial startup ecosystem. What Google is doing in this project is not just funding but a smart funding, because what I hear is that Google is going to help us to identify critical areas that can ignite activities within the ecosystem.
“From our one part as a government, we believe our responsibility is to come up with policies that can enable a level playing field. And government is doing a lot in this area. Starting from expanding the mandate of our ministry to cover digital economy, and the National Digital Economy Policy for a distal Nigeria.”
The NITDA DG also hinted that the National Digital Economy Policy outlines eight strategic pillars which are key to ecosystem. He further noted that the strategies are Al, related to the intervention the Google funding is going to help to achieve in Nigeria and Africa at large.
On his part, the CEO, MyMedicines and alumni of the 2021 BFF program, Abimbola Adebakin , said; “Programs like the Black Founders Fund enhance the African ecosystem – where we currently have gaps in funding and infrastructure. Google getting involved and throwing its might behind thriving entrepreneurs in Africa is a beautiful thing, and I am very happy that Google has continued the Black Founders Fund in Africa initiative in 2022.”