Young tech entrepreneurs in Lagos, Nigeria/Photo: Lagos Techie-Unsplash

Applications open for African tech startup support grant

African tech startups raised a record-breaking $4.42 billion in funding in 2021, with the investment in African innovation almost doubling since 2020. With this increase in funding, comes an increased demand for hands-on support and access to markets from startups in Africa. Therefore, the Telecel African Startup Initiative Program (ASIP) powered by Startupbootcamp (SBC) AfriTech, has opened applications for its next cohort, to scout, skill and scale the next generation of early-stage African tech startups.

Over the course of 2021, African tech startups raised $4.42 billion in funding – almost double the record-breaking $2.4 billion raised in the previous year. “With investment in African innovation increasing, so too has the demand for hands-on support and access to markets from startups,” says Eleanor Azar, Telecel Group Executive Deputy and Director of the Telecel Group Africa Startup Initiative Program (ASIP).

To scout, skill and scale the next generation of early-stage African tech startups, the Telecel ASIP Accelerator Program, powered by Startupbootcamp (SBC) AfriTech has opened applications for its next cohort. ASIP Accelerator is seeking the most impactful ‘African solutions for African challenges’ across. key industry verticals including AgriTech, Supply Chain, IoT & Connectivity, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Cybersecurity, CleanTech, RegTech, and Fintech.

Once selected, the top 10 participants will spend three months undergoing intensive coaching through expert-led masterclasses covering scaling fundamentals from the business model canvas, and lean methodology, to fundraising.

The program will take place in Dakar, Senegal, culminating in a Demo Day where startup founders will pitch their disruptive solutions to a broad audience comprised of media, investors, corporate partners, and industry stakeholders.

Startups will also have access to a proprietary tailored coaching platform, Accelerator Squared, which offers a complete library of content, group workshops, one-on-one mentoring, and collaborative sessions with Entrepreneurs in Residence, along with invite-only discussion forums with founders from around the globe. This is in addition to customised support from experienced mentors and dedicated Entrepreneurs-In-Residence.

The 10 startups will also receive benefits valued at more than $750,000, including credits from AWS, Google Cloud Services, and many more, together with an $18,000 cash stipend from ASIP.

“This program is an opportunity for early-stage startups to build a solid foundation and set up their businesses for success. We will help you make some tough decisions, create a sustainable business model and access the right people and resources,” shares SBC AfriTech’s Founder-In-Residence, Oshone Ikazoboh.

Azar also explained that Telecel will provide the participating startups with access to markets through their mobile services in 30 countries across the continent. “Telecel Group is also continuously seeking other partners in addition to our existing ones such as AWS, Google, Microsoft, and the United Nations International Trade Centre (ITC) to find more ways to support and push the whole ecosystem forward for the benefit of the startups.”

The Accelerator Program is the first to ever be based in and focused on Africa, thanks to a partnership with the Délégation Générale à l’Entreprenariat Rapide des Femmes et des Jeunes (DER/FJ), an institution under the authority of the Presidency of the Republic of Senegal and launched by President Macky Sall in 2018 to support entrepreneurship. To date, DER/FJ has mobilised more than $150 million to drive entrepreneurial activity in Senegal. DER/FJ’s main incubator, the ‘D-Hub’, will be the ASIP program’s main campus for the next three years.

The key stakeholders and partners involved in the Program convened a rigorous reflection and planning process earlier this month hosted at the offices of Amazon Web Services in Paris, France. In attendance were the leadership teams of Telecel Group, Startupbootcamp AfriTech, DER/FJ, AWS, and the United Nations. The Honourable Minister Papa Amadou Sarr attended the meeting and reiterated the Senegalese government’s unwavering support for the program and its intention to foster public partnerships for the ecosystem. The strategy session recapped Cohort 1 and set the stage for Cohort 2, with a special focus on customer discovery discussions, key challenges and future target areas.

“The work Telecel Group is doing with the African Startup Initiative Program is not only relevant and useful, but it is also extremely timely as we see an exponentially growing interest in African tech innovation and the digital entrepreneurs who make it happen,” concludes Martin Labbé, Tech Sector Development Coordinator at the United Nations ITC.

Apply today at bit.ly/ASIP-Apply or for more information, go to bit.ly/ASIP2022.

Applications close on Friday, 28 January 2022.

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About Africa Startup Initiative

ASIP is a program founded by Moh Damush, Telecel Group CEO as a CSR activity. The ASI Program contributes in a meaningful way to the African continent to support the young startups whose innovative ideas are creating a difference in their communities, exposes them to international organisations, and bridges the knowledge and expertise to allow them to attract partners that can add value to their Startups. Our goal is to discover Africa’s most talented entrepreneurs operating in the fields of telecoms and technology and help them create successful companies at scale. ASIP supports the startups via its Accelerator and Investment Programs. The Accelerator Program provides the startups with coaching and mentoring, workshops, access to markets, and education. The Investment Program emphasises access to investors, funding, grants, angel investments, and venture capital.

For more information on the ASIP, visit www.asiprogram.com

About Startupbootcamp AfriTech

Startupbootcamp AfriTech was launched in 2017 as the first multi corporate-backed pan-African startup accelerator. We run world-class accelerator programs, working with some of the most disruptive startups on the continent. We provide access to our global network of corporate partners, investors, and mentors. To date, we have accelerated 40 incredible African startups that have set an incredibly high bar for the next program.

● 90% are still operating and scaling at impressive rates

● 50% of our startups are self-sustaining based on the commercial contracts

● The average increase in valuation for startups raising capital is 4x- 10x post-Demo Day

For more information visit: http://bit.ly/sbcafritech

About Telecel Group

Telecel Group operates in four different lines of business all under the telecom industry: (1) Telecel Mobile, owns and operates several mobile operators in Africa and Europe; (2) Telecel Global, providing wholesale, enterprise and digital security services to telecom operators and enterprises worldwide; (3) Telecel Play, a digital platform that is digitiing mobile users; and (4) Africa Startup Initiative Program, which targets innovative startups in Africa and offers them support and guidance. For more information on the Telecel Group, visit http://telecelgroup.com

About DER/FJ

DER/FJ is an institution under the authority of the Presidency of the Republic of Senegal and it was launched by President Macky Sall in 2018 in order to support entrepreneurs throughout Senegal. This support is given through both financial and non-financial services, with an emphasis on sectors that include technology and innovation, hence the creation of the D-hub incubator.

For more information about DER/FJ visit https://der.sn/

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