Within Digital Africa initiative, the French Development Agency (AFD) launched the Seed Fund by Digital Africa. Since 2019, its implementation relies on six partners running funding programs and capacity building to help young innovative African companies and their ecosystems to develop.
Motivate young shoots
The Investors & Partners (I&P) Accelerations Technologies program offers an average of 100,000€ of repayable funding. Implemented by Investors & Partners Group (I&P), it has enabled the Madagascan start-up Jiro-Vé to extend its solar energy kit’s marketing based on a prepaid digital invoicing system. Established in rural areas, this project already has 55,000 subscribers and 72 financially independent franchisees.
"Through I&P Acceleration Technologies program, we seek to support and finance digital start-ups providing real solutions to Africans’ problems. With Jiro-Vé technology, we want to encourage access to energy and electricity to as many people as possible. Beyond reducing the risk faced by start-ups, this program is a manifestation of each stakeholder’s interest in the tech ecosystem, to reach out those in the early stage." Explains Julio MUPEMBA, Program Coordinator. And the results are there. For example: "For Jiro-Vé customers, recharging their external battery at one of our solar stations costs 0.02 euro cents less than buying a candle. These installations make it possible to make renewable energies accessible to everyone, for economic reasons, but also for the environment" says Rick STAMHUIS, co-founder of the start-up.
In West Africa, I&P is working with Mercy Corps, another operator of Seed Fund by Digital Africa. Together, they support and finance Teliman, the first motorcycle taxi on demand’s platform of Bamako. This start-up, woman-led by Hawa Traoré, offers city dwellers: a fast, economical and secure transportation. It provides drivers with attractive working conditions, the perspective of a stable income, and access the opportunity of ownership by buying their leased motorbike. To date, Teliman works with 120 drivers who have made more than 60,000 trips on average. This start-up also promotes the employment of women and help them gain financial autonomy.
ABAN is a network of African business angels. With the support of the Seed Fund, they will be launching the Catalyst fund soon. Some start-ups will be selected, funded and coached by business angels and Afrilabs network hubs.
Incubate and grow
The leadership and capacities of entrepreneurs also involves the support of “Structures for Innovative Entrepreneurship” (SAEI) which is an essential link in the training of start-ups. The two main partners of the seed fund by Digital Africa in this area are Afrilabs and Afric'Innov. Their role is to strengthen the multiple incubators, nurseries and other places of entrepreneurship support.
Therefore, Afric'Innov recently created a label guarantying the structures quality, organization and support of the incubators. To date, this label has identified 5 SAEI including two incubators: La Fabrique social enterprises in Burkina Faso and Etrilabs, promoting entrepreneurial culture in Benin.
On another hand, 17 hubs of the Afrilabs network received coaching and financial support of 15,000 euros to develop support activities for start-ups.
Adapt to the health crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our daily lives since the beginning of 2020 and did not spare the African continent. To maintain their activities, the partners of the Seed Fund by Digital Africa have adapted.
Based in Lagos, Afrilabs took the opportunity to digitalize its entire skills-building program in order to pursue their activities during the lockdowns. Another example, GreenTec has exceeded his initial goal of investigating 800 cases by improving their identification process through their website and a better use of social networks.
Many start-ups have shown strong resilience offering business-models suited to the Covid constraints. The decline of purchasing power and the inability to access traditional food markets fueled the concept of Price pally. They already had a digital platform and increased their orders by enabling customers to buy food online in bulk, making purchasing costs more affordable. In few months, the turnover of this start-up has grown by 15% monthly.