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The startup tech scene in francophone Africa


Africa is vibrant with young, brilliant minds pursuing technological solutions to solve critical challenges that could propel growth and development. Entrepreneurs across the continent are innovating products and services in areas such as healthcare, energy, water, and financing.

According to the World Bank, most African startups in their early-stages stand a higher chance of failure. The biggest problem is accessing venture capital funding that can help them scale their businesses.

Over the years, several incubators and accelerators have set up shop in the continent and offer training and mentorship. However, there is limited support for companies in their post-revenue growth stage where they intend to scale regionally. The local accelerator and incubation programs do not guarantee to fund the startups going forward.

The 2018 Partech Ventures’ report on startup funding across the continent showcases a record-breaking season in general but a drop in funding for francophone countries that year. Only 1 percent of the $1.16 bn equity funds raised toward the 2018 African Tech startups were channeled to francophone Africa. In the 2019 report, the overall investment figure rose to US$1.163 billion. In French-speaking countries, Senegal clinched the title with 4 deals raising over $4 million. The latest Partech report was their third release and uses the same methodology as the previous years. Overall, it still shows an overwhelming performance by anglophone Africa over their francophone counterparts.

1% seems quite low an apportionment, given 62.5% of the fastest-growing economies are from francophone Africa. As an equalizer programme, the World Bank launched l’Afrique Excelle targeting francophone enterpreneurs. With an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is mainly tailored to the Anglophone countries, L’Afrique Excelle aims to correct that.

The first program kicked off in  Bamako where 20 startups took part in the Mali residency. In the end, 10 startups were selected to advance to the France residency where they pitched at Afrobytes, and VivaTechnology conferences held in Paris.

The finalists were Diool (fintech), Eyone (Healthtech), GiftedMom (Healthtech), Firefly Media (Adtech), LAfricaMobile (SAAS, API), Tripafrique (Transport), Solaris Offgrid (Fitech, Solar), Paps (Logistics), StarNews Mobile (Media), and Sudpay (Fintech).

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