Left-Right: Philipp Keil, MD, Baden-Württemberg Foundation for Development Cooperation (SEZ); Lena Wimmer, Business Development & Strategy, SEZ, and 'Timi Olanrewaju, Executive Director, Lead Africa International, during the just concluded StartUp Afrika event held in Lagos/Photo: Lead Africa International

German state awards grants to African and Baden-Württemberg startups

Twenty-three start-ups in Africa and the German state of Baden-Württenberg have been awarded grants, including funds totalling 100,000 euros, by Baden-Württemberg Development Corporation Foundation (SEZ). Nineteen of the beneficiaries will receive funding, training and mentoring while the rest will benefit from training and mentoring.

SEZ is the international development agency of Baden-Württemberg, one of Germany’s 16 federal states.

The grants were awarded through a project initiated by Lead Africa International to promote youth entrepreneurship in Africa and intercontinental partnership between startups in Africa and Baden-Württemberg.

Tagged StartUp Afrika, the program is designed to support innovative startups, including techies and social entrepreneurs, through intercontinental exchange, networking and funding.

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A total of 449 applicants from Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Burundi, Senegal and Nigeria as well as from Baden-Württemberg and Germany at large applied for the grant and they went through a selection process.  

A 3-day hybrid event took place recently with the live venue in Lagos at which the final 23 winners were selected.

The event, attended by a live audience as well as online participants, had various panelists and experts ranging from brand consultants, strategic management gurus, business advisory managers, who exposed the startup owners to what the real business world offers and how to identify and go after opportunities and weather the unavoidable challenges of the marketplace.

In his keynote address, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, stressed the need for innovation, partnership and networking to enable African start-ups to thrive globally. The envoy, who joined the event virtually, challenged the young entrepreneurs to innovate for change in Africa.

A session of the hybrid event/Photo: Lead Africa International

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Managing Director of the SEZ, Philipp Keil, assured the over 50 participants who attended the hybrid event of the training, collaboration and networking opportunities that the program offers to startups in Africa and Baden-Württemberg.

“StartUp Afrika is a programme designed to support innovative startups through intercontinental exchange and network plus funding. The state of Baden-Württemberg has set out to expand partnerships with counterparts on the African continent. It believes that a common future gets accomplished through partnerships, goal 17 of the SDGs, and through collaborative work and network,” Keil said.

On his part, Executive Director, Lead Africa International, Timi Olanrewaju, explained that the €100,000 grant will be shared among the successful startups based on their presentations which reveal their actual needs.

He said StartUp Afrika was initiated because of his organisation’s conviction that  startups would promote a social and ecologically transformed economy in Africa and Baden-Württemberg.

The overall objective of the program, according to Olanrewaju, is to provide yet another platform of how to tackle unemployment, create wealth and support sustainable economic development in African countries through the promotion of youth entrepreneurship and innovation.

Femi Awoniyi

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