World Bank launches accelerator programme for African digital startups

XL Africa

The World Bank has announced the launch of XL Africa, an acceleration programme aimed at supporting 20 top digital startups from Sub-Saharan Africa.

XL Africa will run over five months and startups will be put through a tailored curriculum, while receiving mentorship and the chance to attract early-stage capital of between US$250,000 and US$1.5-million.

“Digital startups are important drivers of innovation in Africa,” said Makhtar Diop, the vice-president for the Africa Region at the World Bank, in a press release.

“To scale and spread new technologies and services beyond borders, they need an integrated ecosystem that provides access to regional markets and global finance.

“Pan-African initiatives like XL Africa play a critical role by linking local start-ups with corporations and investors across the continent,” said Diop.

The programme will kick off with a two-week residency in Cape Town where the selected startups will be able to interact with mentors, peers and local partners.

The residency will then conclude with a venture showcase in which entrepreneurs will present their business models before an audience of corporations 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 startups,” said Klaus Tilmes, the director of Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank.

XL Africa will create a pipeline of investment-ready companies

“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,” said Tilmes.

XL Africa will collaborate with African investment groups such as the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell Investments and Knife Capital.

The accelerator will also be collaborating with Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, SA Business Angel Network (SABAN) and many others.

Corporate partners include Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.

“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,” said Lexi Novitske, the principal investment officer for Singularity Investments.

Companies wishing to apply can do so online before 12 June.



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