The Dutch entrepreneurial development bank is providing technical assistance and expertise to early-stage African tech startups, as part of a drive to develop the continent’s business ecosystem
FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, is partnering with tech accelerator Startupbootcamp AfriTech (SBC Afritech), for the third round of its Africa Start-up Initiative Accelerator Programme (ASIP).
FMO is providing expertise and technical assistance to contribute to the operating costs of the accelerator.
The programme aims to help Africa’s early-stage tech startups to scale up regionally and globally. Ten startups will be selected to join the accelerator and will spend three months undergoing intensive coaching on how to scale their businesses.
The programme will take place in Senegal, ending with a ‘Demo Day’, where startup founders pitch their ideas and strategies to an audience of media, investors, corporate partners, and industry stakeholders.
Around 90% of the 50 African startups that completed previous rounds of the Afritech accelerator are still operating and scaling up, and have raised a combined $110m in follow-on funding since the programme’s inception in 2017, according to SBC Afritech.
Robert Haynie, a Ventures Program consultant at FMO, told Impact Investor the partnership was a good fit with FMO’s wider strategy to support the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems across Africa beyond the largest markets such as Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya by fostering a dynamic entrepreneurial sector.
“We want to work with established and effective global or regional accelerators to help them cover the more challenging middle tier of low- and middle-income countries faster than they would do on their own. That’s what brought us to the partnership with Startupbootcamp,” he said.
Telecel and Senegal among backers
ASIP has focused on sectors such as fintech, insurance tech, agritech, climate tech, eCommerce, digital health, and cleantech in previous rounds. Through its Ventures Program and MASSIF Fund, FMO is working with SBC Afritech to bring in other focus areas including mobility, micro-leasing, and digitising the informal economy.
The ASIP programme was founded by pan-African mobile communications operator Telecel Group as a corporate social responsibility initiative. Other backers include the Senegalese government, as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google, which provide access to their technology and engineers.
Besides customised support from experienced mentors and ‘Entrepreneurs-In-Residence’, startups on the ASIP can also use SBC’s coaching tool Accelerator Squared.
The startups will also receive benefits including credits from AWS, Google Cloud Services, worth over $750,000 and a cash investment of $18,000, according to SBC Afritech.
Applications for the third round of ASIP are open until November. Those interested in applying can do so on the SBC Afritech website.
FMO’s three-pronged strategy
This is FMO’s second partnership with an African accelerator programme. In December 2021, the institution said it was partnering with Endeavor SA to expand that its acceleration model, which supports early-stage ventures with globally scalable solutions. Under the partnership, Endeavor is focusing on ventures within the agritech industry and has prioritized recruiting on business covering Ghana, Morocco, and Tanzania.
Support for accelerators directed at scaling startups on a regional and continental level is one of three prongs of FMO Ventures Program’s approach to developing more robust entrepreneurial ecosystems in Africa, according to Haynie.
The second prong is focused on supporting more local accelerators aimed at fostering smaller companies. The third is support for emerging capital allocators or first-time fund managers – particularly local and women fund managers – that can get develop creative ways to get capital to small and growing businesses.
“We feel that it’s important to approach ecosystem building by supporting this mix of locally based accelerators and regional and global accelerators,” he said.