April 24—The World Bank will help 20 selected start-ups in Africa attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million in a new five-month business acceleration program dubbed XL Africa.
Interested companies can apply online on the XL Africa website www.XL-Africa.com by Monday, June 12, 2017. The program comes at a time of increasing interest in the African digital sector. According to a recent report by Disrupt Africa, in 2016, the number of tech start-ups that secured funding increased by 16.8% compared to 2015.
Makhtar Diop, the Vice President for the Africa Region at the World Bank said, “Digital start-ups are important drivers of innovation in Africa. To scale and spread new technologies and services beyond borders, they need an integrated ecosystem that provides access to regional markets and global finance; pan-African initiatives like XL Africa play a critical role by linking local start-ups with corporations and investors across the continent.”
The program’s flagship activity includes a two-week residency in Cape Town, South Africa, where the ventures will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from their mentors, peers, and local partners. The Cape Town residency will conclude with the Venture Showcase, a regional event in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors.
XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A, and Koltai & Co.
Lexi Novitske, Principal Investment Officer for Singularity Investments, a venture group based in Lagos, Nigeria said,“The program’s unique combination of targeted mentorship and access to investors represents a vital resource for digital ventures ready to grow.”
The program will collaborate with prominent African investment groups, including the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell Investments, Knife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network (SABAN), TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital, and corporate partners, such as Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.
“By connecting innovative business ideas with the knowledge and resources available in the ecosystem, XL Africa will create a pipeline of investment-ready companies, unlocking better investment opportunities for regional and global investors,” Novitske said.