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Google unveils new programmes for African innovation, female entrepreneurs

By Adeyemi Adepetun
23 June 2021   |   3:39 am
Google has renewed its commitment to grow Africa’s startup ecosystem through its Google for Startups Accelerator (GFSA) Africa class, applications for $3 million Black Founders Fund...

Earmarks $3m to support underserved communities

Google has renewed its commitment to grow Africa’s startup ecosystem through its Google for Startups Accelerator (GFSA) Africa class, applications for $3 million Black Founders Fund (BFF) Africa programme and Google.org-backed $3 million grant to the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).

The gesture is aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs in 54 African countries, with special focus on supporting female entrepreneurs on the continent.

The three-month online programme, which includes virtual training bootcamps, mentorship and Google product support, is designed to support emerging businesses through their early growth phases.

To further support innovation on the continent, a new $3 million Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Africa would be unveiled as part of Google’s global commitment to support underserved communities.

Google said the fund, which is part of its racial equity commitment announced in June 2020, would provide cash awards and hands-on support to 50 Black startups in Africa and unlike most startup investments, do not require founders to give up any equity for funding.

Google will be working with the Co-Creation Hub, a Google for Startups partner and leading technology community hub in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda to distribute the funding to select companies across Africa.

It explained that the applications are now open to funding, as well as technical and business support for 50 new startups across the continent this year.

It said BFF Africa was open to all startups in Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, which meet the eligibility criteria, adding that applications would end on July 7, 2021.

Commenting, Co-founder & CEO at Co-Creation Hub, Bosun Tijani, said: “It is encouraging to see Google’s continued dedication to strengthening and elevating the startup ecosystem in Africa. Google is one of the early supporters of technology entrepreneurs on the continent, which has, in the last 10 years, reflected its commitment.

Managing Director of Google Sub-Saharan Africa, Nitin Gajria, said: “Google understands that the success of one player in the startup space would lay the path for others and this is what drives commitment to empower entrepreneurs and startups and effectively drive employment.

“It will also enable socio-economic development on the continent and we are determined to help black founders grow their businesses, not only through access to capital, but also through access to the best of Google’s resources.”

Furthermore, Google.org’s $3 million grant to the TEF would be deployed to providing entrepreneurship training, mentorship and coaching to about 5,000 rural women with low digital skills, and currently operate in the informal sector.

On her part, Chief Executive Officer of TEF, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said: “As Africa’s leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs, the grant will provide financial and technical support for additional women businesses and marginalised groups in the informal sector through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.

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