Google opens applications for class four of Launchpad Africa [Updated]


Google today opened applications for the fourth class of its Launchpad Africa accelerator and is looking for at least 10 startups to join the programme.

The fourth cohort kicks off in September and is expected to run until late November or early December. Applications close on 26 July.

The 12 startups from the accelerator’s third and latest cohort, which was run in Lagos and Nairobi, are due to graduate today in Lagos today (see the names in this story).

Startups in 17 countries across the continent including Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe are able to apply to participate in the programme.

Google today opened applications for the fourth cohort of its Launchpad Africa programme

To be eligible for the programme, startups have to be technology startups, based in Sub-Saharan Africa, target the African market, and have raised seed funding.

Google additionally considers the problem each startup is trying to solve, how it creates value for users, and how it addresses a real challenge for its home city, country or Africa broadly.

‘Aim to cover all African countries’

The accelerator’s head of startup success and services Folagbade Olatunji-David (pictured above, during the graduation ceremony of cohort three in Lagos this week) told Ventureburn in a call on Google Hangouts on Wednesday (19 June) that in coming cohorts Google hopes to cover all 54 countries in Africa.

Google announced Launchpad Africa in March last year and has committed to providing African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley and Africa over three years. The accelerator is based in Lagos.

Olatunji-David, who is hopeful that the programme will continue beyond 2020, said Google had limited the number of countries from which startups can apply (17 at present) to those countries that had the necessary support structures and communities in place to assist applicants.

This, he said, would ensure that applicants receive the necessary support once they graduate from the programme. “We don’t want startups to come out of these countries and feel isolated,” he added.

Powered by Launchpad

Olatunji-David however said Google’s new initiative “Powered by Launchpad” — which aims to help partner organisations to roll out support programmes across the continent — will go some way to assist in boosting certain neglected tech communities.

So far one organisation, Greenhouse Labs — a three-month acceleration programme which targets female entrepreneurs and is run by Lagos-based venture capital (VC) firm GreenHouse Capital — is getting support from Google through the initiative.

Greenhouse Labs ran one cohort last year and is currently taking applications for a new one (see this story). Olatunji-David said Google has helped provide mentors and curriculum for the accelerator.

Three or four raising funding

Turning to the performance of those participants on the third cohort, which ends today, he said three or four of the 12 startups that took part in the cohort, are busy raising investment at present.

In a statement today Google said startups in the third class have raised close to $9-million in funding, created more than 120 jobs and their products and services have over 270 000 users.

Google added that the 23 startups from classes one and two have between them have created 385 direct jobs and raised over $19-million before, during and after they participated in the programme.

Olatunji-David said the chief areas that the programme assists participants with fall into the following areas, namely:

  • Helping them with technology challenges,
  • Helping them with leadership challenges (to improve the way founders and managers deal with staff)
  • Helping them improve day-to-day operations and governance and fourthly
  • Helping them to grow their firms through planning and preparing for growth and fundraising.

Interested startups can apply for Google Launchpad Africa’s fourth cohort here.

Read more: Google Launchpad Africa has proven ‘extremely valuable’ for startup – SA founder
Read more: Here are the 12 startups selected for Google Launchpad Africa’s third class
Read more: Second class of Launchpad Africa have raised $12m, created 253 jobs – Google
Read more: SA startups Pineapple, Preeva win place in Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Africa
Read more: Google to reveal names of second cohort of Launchpad Accelerator Africa today
Read more: Google opens applications for its second class of Launchpad Africa accelerator
Read more: Google is backing it, but how does SA startup swiftVEE’s platform really work?
Read more: Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Africa announces first cohort of 12 startups
Read more: Lagos is perfect backdrop for startups says Google Launchpad Accelerator man

*Correction: We earlier said applications will close 20 July. The correct date is 26 July.

Editor’s note (21 June 2019): This story has been updated with figures from Google in a subsequent statement, on the performance of the third cohort, as well as first and second too.

Featured image: Folagbade Olatunji-David, Google Launchpad Africa’s head of startup success and services, pictured during the graduation ceremony of cohort three in Lagos this week (Supplied)



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