As the global business landscape continues to evolve, African startups are seeking opportunities to grow and compete on an international level. Leveraging global accelerators has emerged as an essential strategy for African startups to obtain a competitive edge in today’s interconnected world.
What is an Incubator vs Accelerator?
An incubator offers a supportive environment, tailored to cultivate early-stage African startups. These programs provide resources, mentorship, and workspace, allowing startups to refine their ideas, develop prototypes, and solidify business models. Incubators guide startups in navigating challenges, validating concepts, and building a strong foundation. They foster a space for ideation, experimentation, and skill acquisition.
On the other hand, accelerators focus on rapidly advancing startups that have reached a certain development stage. These programs deliver intense mentorship, networking, and often funding, aiming to propel startups towards swift scaling and market entry. Particularly beneficial for startups with validated products, accelerators refine strategies, access markets, and connect startups with investors and experts.
Recommended reading: Incubator vs Accelerator programs for African startups? Are there any differences?
Global accelerator programs for African startups?
Global accelerators are programs designed to support and nurture startups and early-stage startups by providing them with resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities. These programs aim to expedite the growth and success of startups by offering valuable guidance and exposure to global markets. By participating in global accelerators, African startups can gain access to a wide range of benefits that can propel their growth and help them overcome common challenges.
As African startups strive for growth and expansion, one of the key challenges they often face is accessing funding. However, in recent years, the rise of global accelerators has provided African startups with an array of opportunities to raise capital and unlock their potential.
In this article, we will explore some of the notable global accelerators that African startups can join to secure funding and propel their growth.
15 best global accelerators for African startups in 2023
1. Y Combinator
Y Combinator is an American technology startup accelerator founded in 2005. YC has invested in more than 95 African startups, including Flutterwave, Paystack, Reliance Health, etc. Nigeria has the largest share of YC-backed African startups, with 51 out of 95. As of March 2022, YC-backed startups in Africa have raised $1.3 billion.
YC invests $500,000 in every company on standard terms. YC’s $500K investment is made on 2 separate safes:
● YC invests $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% of your company (the “$125k safe”)
● YC invests $375,000 on an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) provision (“MFN safe”)
African businesses can benefit from the comprehensive program that includes seed funding, mentorship, and access to a vast network of investors and industry experts. Participating in Y Combinator can significantly enhance the credibility of African businesses and open doors to potential funding opportunities.
2. 500 Startups
500 Startups is an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator founded in 2010 by Dave McClure. 500 Startups has invested in 74 African startups including Chipper cash, a Ghanian FinTech company that has raised $13.8m in serie A from 500 Startup.
500 Startups program focuses on markets where technology, innovation, and capital can unlock long-term value and drive economic growth. 500 Startups provides funding, mentorship, and resources to help startups grow. With a diverse portfolio spanning various industries, 500 Startups offers African businesses the chance to receive funding, mentorship, and access to a global network of investors and partners.
500 Startups also provides valuable resources and expertise to help African businesses scale and succeed in the competitive startup ecosystem.
Recommended reading: How to Ace Your 500 Startup Application
Techstars is a startup accelerator program that invests in early-stage FinTech and PropTech startups based in Africa. Techstars has helped numerous Arican startups achieve success. Since 2015, Techstars has backed over 50 African startups across various countries including Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.
Techstars is a prominent accelerator program with a global reach and a focus on technology-driven startups. African startups can leverage Techstars’ extensive network of mentors, investors, and corporate partners to raise capital and gain valuable insights. Techstars offers a three-month accelerator program that combines mentorship, funding, and hands-on support to help African businesses accelerate their growth and enter new markets.
Recommended reading: How to Put in a Successful Application to Techstars Lagos
Seedstars is a Swiss-based private group of companies with a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. Seedstars has invested in notable African startups including Omnibiz, Chaka, LipaLater, Pezesha, QuickCheck, Fuzu, Zumi, Medsaf, Ando Foods, Kuunda, and Eden Care.
By participating in Seedstars World, African businesses have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of international investors and industry experts. Successful startups receive funding, mentorship, and access to the Seedstars network, which can significantly boost their growth trajectory.
5. Village Capital
Village Capital is an accelerator program that focuses on social impact startups. Village Capital unlocks critical social and financial capital for early-stage companies to maximize business and impact growth.
African businesses with a mission to drive positive change in their communities can benefit from Village Capital’s unique approach. The program combines peer-based support, mentorship, and investor connections to help African businesses secure funding and scale their impact. Village Capital’s emphasis on social entrepreneurship provides African businesses with the opportunity to attract investors who align with their mission.
6. Google for Startups Black Founders Fund: Africa
Google for Startups Black Founders Fund: Africa is a virtual with in-person opportunities taking place throughout the year and is available to high-potential Seed through Series A tech firms in Africa. Google for startups black founders fund has invested in African startups including Fez, Herconomy, Jumba, Ridelink, Susu, Truq, and Tushop amongst others.
The key benefits of the Google for startups black founders fund are:
- Access to up $150,000 in equity-free cash
- Receive Google Cloud credits and dedicated support.
- Connect and get support from fellow founders as part of the Google for Startups alumni network.
- Receive tailored product and leadership support from Google mentors and industry experts.
- Become a more effective leader through research-based strategies and expert coaching.
7. Norrsken Impact Accelerator
Norrsken Impact Accelerator was founded in Stockholm, Sweden by Niklas Adalberth. Norrsken Impact Accelerator has invested in African startups including Sendstack, Kwara, Revwit, Wala Health, Salad, Billbox, Motito, Octamile, WellaHealth, and SunFi, amongst others.
Norrsken Impact Accelerator is a renowned global accelerator program that focuses on supporting early-stage ventures with a strong social and environmental impact. They provide a platform for startups dedicated to solving pressing global challenges. The accelerator program offers a combination of funding, mentorship, and resources to help startups scale their impact and drive positive change.
Pioneer is a global accelerator that aims to discover and support exceptional entrepreneurial talent from around the world and was founded by Daniel Gross and Rishi Narang. Pioneer has invested in African startups including Bumpa, Flux, Aspect, Nat, Funnelll, Afriktrip, Sturta, Mon, HoneyCoin, and Kash amongst others
Pioneer is designed to identify and empower innovators by providing them with resources, mentorship, and opportunities to connect with a global network of entrepreneurs. Pioneer focuses on helping startups develop their ideas and navigate the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
9. The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL)
The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) is an international accelerator and research institute focused on justice innovation and it was founded in The Hague, Netherlands. As of February 2023, HiiL’s Justice Accelerator is bringing 12 startups from Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya, and Rwanda to showcase their justice innovations, concluding the Innovating Justice Challenge 2022.
HiiL work with startups and organizations that aim to improve access to justice and create innovative solutions for legal challenges. HiiL supports startups in developing technology-driven solutions that enhance efficiency, fairness, and accessibility in the legal sector.
10. Mastercard Start Path Program
Start Path is Mastercard’s global startup network created to ignite relationships between vetted startups and corporate members. Start Path has invested in African startups including Flutterwave, amongst others.
The Mastercard Start Path Program supports innovative startups in the financial technology (fintech) industry. They work with startups that are developing cutting-edge solutions in areas such as payments, cybersecurity, data analytics, and digital identity.
Start Path provides selected startups with mentorship, resources, access to Mastercard’s network, and potential investment opportunities.
11. Startup Wise Guys SaaS Accelerator
Startup Wise Guys SaaS accelerator program provides an optimized approach that delivers tailored guidance and support from world-class mentors and experts. Startup Wise Guys SaaS accelerator has invested in African startups including Bunce, Built Africa, FX Kudi Inc, and Nigenius, amongst others.
Startup Wise Guys SaaS Accelerator focuses on fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration among startups to drive their success.
12. Digital Financial Services Lab
Digital Financial Services Lab (DFS Lab) was founded by Jake Kendall. DFS Lab is a global accelerator program focused on supporting early-stage startups that are leveraging digital technologies to provide financial services to underserved populations.
DFS Lab focus on Africa’s largest economic engines and invest in founders who are creating opportunities for everyone. DFS Lab provides startups with mentorship, technical expertise, and seed capital to help them develop innovative solutions that promote financial inclusion and advance digital financial services.
13. MEST Africa
MEST Africa was founded in Ghana in 2008 by Jorn Lyseggen. MEST Africa is a pan-African entrepreneurial training program and incubator. They provide aspiring African entrepreneurs with the skills, mentorship, and resources needed to build successful businesses.
MEST has invested in over 80 early-stage African software companies, in industries ranging from e-commerce, Agtech, Fintech, Healthtech, Edutech, AI, and more. MEST Africa has invested in African startups including Binyoh, Decagon, ADPList, Smile Identity, SynCommerce, Trober, BezoMoney, and Spark, amongst others.
MEST Africa runs a rigorous training program and invests in promising startups, supporting them in their journey to become globally successful companies. They focus on technology-driven ventures across multiple industries.
14. African Startup Initiative Program (ASIP)
ASIP was founded by Telecel Group as part of CSR activities. ASIP aims to empower and uplift the African community by supporting and nurturing young startups with innovative ideas that are poised to make a real impact in their local communities. ASIP has invested in African startups including Carry1st, Oncopadi, PAPSS, and Motito, amongst others.
With a focus on fostering entrepreneurship and innovation across Africa, ASIP aims to be a catalyst for change, providing invaluable resources and guidance to budding entrepreneurs. Through mentorship, workshops, access to networks, and financial support, ASIP creates an enabling environment for startups to flourish and reach their full potential.
15. FAST Accelerator
FAST Accelerator identifies, supports, and funds the next generation of African innovators who are building for sustainability at scale, from SMEs and large enterprises to governments and communities. FAST Accelerator has invested in African startups including Taimba, LegitCar, K-12, Capsa Technology, Tumaini La Maisha, KaCyber Technologies, and SILQU, amongst others.
FAST Accelerator offers an intensive and immersive experience to supercharge startups on their growth journey. Through an array of tailored workshops, intensive mentoring sessions, and access to industry experts, startups enrolled in FAST gain a competitive edge to scale their businesses rapidly.
Recommended reading: 5 Important Benefits of Global Accelerators for African Startups
Global accelerators provide African businesses with a unique opportunity to accelerate their growth and compete on a global scale. By accessing funding, mentorship, international exposure, validation, and learning opportunities, African businesses can overcome challenges and unlock their potential for success.
Participating in global accelerators enables African startups to establish connections, gain credibility, and expand their reach into new markets. As more African businesses embrace global accelerators, the continent’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to flourish, paving the way for economic growth and prosperity.