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All four African startups that took part in the PeaceTech Accelerator‘s fifth cohort have secured corporate partnerships following the conclusion of the accelerator’s eight week programme — Mike Ravenscroft, the programme director of C5 Accelerate which runs the initiative, has revealed.
C5 Accelerate launched the Washington DC based accelerator last year in partnership with PeaceTech Lab, a peace building non-profit, in collaboration with cloud computing service provider, Amazon Web Services.
The aim is to help scale startups on the cloud and solve problems relating to peace, stability and security worldwide.
Africa’s contingent to the accelerator’s fifth cohort included two Nigerian startups — proptech Muster and talent marketplace Coven Works — and two Ghanaian startups — back-end platform Devless and supply-chain platform Jetstream Africa.
Muster, Coven Works, Devless and Jetstream Africa represented Africa in the fifth cohort of the US-based PeaceTech Accelerator
Ravenscroft, who described the accelerator’s fifth cohort as a “remarkably fast-moving group of companies”, detailed the partnerships the four had secured in an email to Ventureburn last Friday (7 December).
At the time, he said Coven Works was in the process of finalising a significant partnership agreement with a major cloud services provider (he declined to say who this is). When concluded the agreement, he added, will enable the startup to deliver cloud training to trainees across all its bootcamps.
Last month, Muster was appointed as the official accommodation partner for the 2018 Calabar Carnival by Nigeria’s Cross River State. This, while Devless is currently working with multiple customers in the US to finalise a number of proof of concepts by early next year.
Jetstream Africa meanwhile has secured several major partnerships with global food buyers and Ravenscroft said the startup is in the process of preparing to run a pilot project of their solution early next year.
‘Close and active relationship’
Turning to how the PeaceTech Accelerator works with participants, Ravenscroft said the accelerator seeks to maintain a “close and active relationship” with its startups.
“We’re not the kind of accelerator that pushes startups out onto the ice floe and says ‘Go forth and conquer’,” he said, adding that C5 understands that building a successful business “isn’t an event, but rather a process”.
He explained that the accelerator helps its startups with marketing materials, meets with them quarterly to discuss their market strategy and introduces the companies to mentors within its network. The accelerator also helps the companies raise follow-on capital by introducing them to investors.
“There’s no single strategy for success. Ultimately, our goal is to work with our startups to continuously evaluate where they are, what support they need, and how we can help,” he explained.
‘No better example of peacetech’
When asked by Ventureburn which of the four stood out for their ability to manage, mitigate, predict, or prevent conflict and promote sustainable peace, Ravenscroft pointed to Coven Works. He explained that regional and national instability often stems from economic disenfranchisement of a country’s citizens.
Coven Works, he said, is trying to solve an increasingly challenging problem in Nigeria related to preventing violent extremism, he added that the startup is helping youth from post-conflict and conflict-prone regions secure sustainable employment.
He said what stood out for the accelerator was how Coven co-founder and CEO Sola Amusan saw this problem first-hand in his community, and then moved to launch Coven Labs to train young people on the in-demand tech skills that would help them find jobs in the digital economy.
“But they knew training them wasn’t enough. For the venture to be truly impactful, they had to connect them with job opportunities as well,” he explained. He said Amusan then launched Coven Works to connect the youth from their training programmes with employment opportunities.
Said Ravencroft: “I can think of no better example of peacetech than the work they’re doing to empower young people to seize the opportunities of the new economy”.
Featured image; Devless founder and CEO Edwin Tsatsu at the PeaceTech Accelerator in Washington DC, in the US (Supplied)