My Martin Ekpeke
As announced during Google for Nigeria event last year, the tech giant has today kicked-off the Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme, by unveiling 12 Startups in Lagos, South-West Nigeria.
In no particular order, the 12 Startups participating in the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class are: Babymigo – Nigeria – a trusted social community for expecting mothers and young parents; Flexpay – Kenya – an automated and secured layaway e-commerce system; Kudi – Nigeria – payment for Africa through messaging and OkadaBooks – Nigeria – a social platform that allows users easily create, spread and sell their stories/books/documents in a matter of minutes.
Others are OMG Digital – Ghana – a media platform that produces hyper-local, engaging and entertaining content African millennials love to consume and share;. Pezesha – Kenya – a scalable Peer to Peer microlending marketplace that allows Kenyans to loan to Kenyans, securely, via mobile money using big data and credit analytics; Piggybank.ng – Nigeria – allows Africans put aside little amounts of money periodically till they reach a savings target and Riby – Nigeria – a peer-to-peer banking platform for cooperatives and their members that allows them to save, borrow and invest, together.
The remaining four are swiftVEE – South Africa – a platform for connecting livestock agencies to a network of buyers and sellers;. TangoTv – Tanzania – a media streaming and video on demand service for African local content; films and shows; Teheca – Uganda – helps families and individuals find the right health care providers/workers in Uganda and Thrive Agric – Nigeria – crowdfunds investments for small holder farmers, and provide this to them in form of inputs, tech driven advisory and access to market.
The 12 Startups, who came from five different African countries namely: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will be tutored for two weeks by carefully selected mentors from across the globe.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Startups in Lagos, Juliut Ehimuan, Google’s Country Manager, said the Lauunchpad Accelerator Programme is an extension of the company’s Digital Skills for Africa program to train 10 million Africans, including 100,000 developers, over five years.
She noted that as an effort towards building a digital ecosystem in Africa that would ultimately lead to a digital economy, the Launchpad Accelerator Africa was announced at Google for Nigeria in July last year.
“Over the next three years the Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme will provide African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa. Participants receive travel and PR support during each three-month program,” she disclosed.
She also announced a partnership with Udacity and Andela to provide 15 000 single course scholarships and 500 nanodegree scholarships to aspiring and professional developers across Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
To qualify, startups have to be a technology startup, based in Sub-Saharan Africa, targeting the African market and have already raised seed funding. Google additionally considered the problem the start up is trying to solve, how it creates value for users, and how they addressed a real challenge for their home city, country or Africa broadly.
Google is committed to the Sub-Saharan Africa developer ecosystem and has, since April 2016, hosted 13 Launchpad Build and Start events across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, featuring some 228 speakers and engaging 590 attendees from local startups in each country.
It also runs programs such as Google Developer Groups and Women Techmakers, providing training and support for developers aligned with real-life job competency requirements. Community groups engage in activities like Study Jams – study groups for developers. There are some 140 communities across 25 countries in SSA. Some 61 of these groups hosted 81 Study Jams in 10 countries reaching over 5 000 developers in the last year.