20 African start-ups enter World Bank’s digital acceleration program

Twenty of the most promising African digital start-ups will take part in the XL Africa residency, the flagship initiative of the business accelerator launched last April by the World Bank Group’s, infoDev program.

The program which starts from November 6 -17 in Cape Town, South Africa will give the entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from their mentors and peers, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors.

The residency will conclude with the XL Africa Venture Showcase, a regional event organized in association with the African Angel Investor Summit, in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors.

With support from African investment groups, XL Africa will help the start-ups attract early stage capital between US$250,000 and US$1.5 million.

Selected from a pool of over 900 applicants, these start-ups specialize in digital solutions for the African market, including fin-tech, transportation, health care, education, human resources, and B2B.

All companies provide a digital product or service currently available in one or more African markets and show potential to scale across the region.

“We are pleased by the interest infoDev and XL Africa generated across the continent in just a few months,” said Klaus Tilmes, Director of the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group.

He said, “XL Africa attracted firms with high-growth potential; many have female co-founders, have already raised early stage investment, and have demonstrated significant market traction.

Mr. Tilmes said, “The number and quality of applications received are a clear testament to the competitiveness of African start-ups and the key role they play in Africa’s growing digital economy.”

The selection for XL Africa was conducted by a panel of industry experts from the International Finance Corporation (IFC); implementing partners IMC Worldwide, Koltai & Co, and Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A); as well as investors from prominent African funds, including Knife Capital, 4Di Capital LLP, Singularity Investments, TLcom Capital LLP, Goodwell Investments, Nest Africa, and Africa Tech Ventures.

“We encountered very strong companies, particularly in the transportation, HR, and data analytics sectors,” said Danai Musandu, investment associate at Goodwell Investments.

“We also observed signals of a nascent pipeline of digital companies beyond the traditional hot spots of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. These talented entrepreneurs are among those who are going to drive innovation on the continent and offer great opportunities for investors looking at African markets,” Danai Musandu said.

Start-ups from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal and Benin are participating in the event.

XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A, and Koltai & Co.

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