Some startups in a 3-day keenly contested pitching competition, powered by Lead Africa International in full collaboration with the state ministry of  Baden-Wurttemberg,  Germany through the foundation for development corporation,  SEZ, are on the verge of carting home a £100, 000 grant.

Tagged ‘StartupAfrika’, a total of 439 applicants applied for the grant, which was filtered to about 30 and the criteria for the selection of qualified candidates is for them to attend a 3-day hybrid selection process involving startups fom Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Nigeria happening to be the live audience.

Speaking about the competition and grant, Mr. Timi Olanrewaju, Founder and Executive Director for Lead Africa International, said the StartupAfrika is a project designed to reach out to startups, especially in Africa where there are laudable ideas and business plans but are most times handicap owing to obvious factors limiting them from growing.

L-R: ‘Timi Olanrewaju, executive Director, Lead Africa InternationaL, Lena Wimmer, Business Development & Strategy at SEZ, Philipp Keli, MD, Baden-Wurttemberg Dev. Corporation Foundation, SEZ during the just concluded StartUp Afrika event held in Lagos

“Our own interest is to help startups in Africa grow and ultimately create employment. This is our stand to people in Europe. It is not enough to just sending aids to Africa. We need to get people that are trying to make something for themselves to grow so that in that process, they will be able to hand over jobs to other people. Even if it is going to be at the lower level, it will keep people off the street and will also stop some from doing things that are against the law,” he said.

He explained that any of the startups that come through from the selection process, LeadAfrica and its partners will follow him up with training and mentoring, stressing that the money will come in batches because sponsors also need some level of control on how the money will be invested into the startup business.

According to Timi, the money is not equity from the government of Wurttemberg; rather, it is a seed grant. He argued that there is a need to monitor it as the idea behind the grant is to grow people and businesses in Africa, which will in turn pay back with their success story.

Also commenting, Lena Wimmer, Business Development & Strategy SEZ said the StartupAfrika idea was initiated with LeadAfrica to create a partnership with Startups in Africa, stressing that ideas and business opportunities exist in Nigeria and indeed, the Africa continent.

“We believe that startups can play a key role to create a social and ecologically transformed economy in Africa. This is what is needed to accomplish the United Nations’Agenda 2030 and the agenda 2063 of the Africa Union,” she argued.

While emphasizing that successful startups stand a chance to win and secure a seed grant of up to €10,000, Ms. Lena believes that startups play a key role in economic growth, as they create more jobs which means more employment and consequently leads to an improved economy.

According to her, the StartupsAfrika initiative showcases some of Africa’s top social entrepreneurs and pioneers in diverse fields, who are creating prototype solutions across both tech and non-tech divides to help Africa solve its critical challenges around digitization, fashion industry, cleantech, climate change and education.

StartUp Afrika is a program 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. As export-driven regions and promoters for sustainable ideas, Startups and innovative partnerships play a key role. The Foundation of Development Cooperation has gained some experience in social entrepreneurship. It believes that a common future gets accomplished through partnerships, goal 17 of the SDGs, and through collaborative work and network.


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