World Bank launches new programme to support Africa’s digital start-ups

20 Apr 2017, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


XL Africa is a five-month acceleration programme designed to support 20 high-growth digital start-ups on the continent.

World Bank headquarters, Washington DC

The World Bank Group has launched XL Africa, a five-month acceleration programme designed to support 20 high-growth digital startups from sub-Saharan Africa. A statement released on Thursday by XL Africa showed that the initiative will help these start-ups attract early stage capital worth between $250,000 and $1.5 million.

With a goal to scale up digital innovation in Africa, the programme provides mentoring from global and local experts for selected entrepreneurs who are expected to learn through a customised curriculum. It increases the regional visibility of chosen start-ups and gives them access to potential corporate partners and investors.

“XL Africa aims to put a spotlight on the continent’s growing digital economy by scouting for and supporting the most innovative tech start-ups,” said Klaus Tilmes, Director of Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group. “The success of these ventures will create a demonstration effect that can attract much-needed growth investment in the sector and catalyse scaling of transnational businesses in the region.”

According to XL Africa, the programme has been strategically launched at a time when interest in Africa’s digital sector is on the rise. A Disrupt Africa 2016 report shows that the number of tech start-ups that received funding increased by 16.8% compared to 2015.

“By connecting innovative business ideas with the knowledge and resources available in the ecosystem, XL Africa will create a pipeline of investment-ready companies, unlocking better investment opportunities for regional and global investors,” Lexi Novitske, Principal Investment Officer for Singularity Investments, a venture group based in Nigeria, said.

The programme will collaborate with major African investment groups that include, African Business Angel Network (ABAN); AngelHub Ventures; Goodwell Investments; Knife Capital; Nest Africa; Silvertree Capital; and Singularity Investments. Other partners are South African Business Angel Network (SABAN); Orange; and Thomson Reuters.

Start-up firms who have a digital product or service currently available on the market with demonstrated tangible traction and evidence of revenue, can apply online on the XL Africa website by Monday, June 12, 2017.

XL Africa is supported by the World Bank, with financial assistance from the Governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden. It is managed by implementing partners IMC Worldwide, Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A) and Koltai & Co.