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Google accelerator focuses on emerging markets


Technology conglomerate Google has chosen 24 start-ups from developing markets around the world, including Nigeria, out of thousands of applications to participate in a two-week boot camp to take their business to the global stage.

In its fifth year, Google Launchpad Accelerator is taking place in San Francisco this week. It focuses on start-ups that already have a product, with a good market fit, and are ready to scale.

During the intensive two weeks at Google’s offices, start-ups are exposed to expert professionals and mentors in the technology and business space, as well as take part in workshops on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The programme is tailored to each start-up specifically. When they are accepted into the initiative, their problems are assessed and they are paired with the mentor who has the best skill set to help them when they get to San Francisco.

After the boot camp, the start-ups will take part remotely in a six-month mentorship programme.

This year, there are three start-ups from Africa: Aerobotics from SA, as well as Helium Health and OneFi from Nigeria.

Cape Town-based Aerobotics helps farmers optimise their yields and reduce costs through its aerial data analytics platform, which combines on-the-ground and satellite data with footage from drones.

Helium Health provides smart, rugged, all-in-one electronic medical records for Africa, and OneFi has created Paylater, an online provider of digital financial services for the underbanked in West Africa.

There are two companies with $1 billion evaluations taking part in the accelerator. Roy Glasberg, global lead for Google Developers Launchpad, says this is the first time any accelerator in the world has taken on such large start-ups.

Both ‘unicorns’ are based in Brazil. Nubank is a financial technology company offering a fully digital and branchless experience, and Viva Real is an online real estate marketplace that connects buyers, sellers and renters with properties in Brazil.

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