Google takes African startups under its wings

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Silicon Valley giant Google is expanding its regional mentorship programme for top early-stage technology startups in Africa, with the aim of helping them become commercially viable.

The Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme started off with six countries at its launch eight months ago — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

Beneficiary firms received $10,000 each equity-free cash grants, and have so far raised more than $7 million between them.

Now Google has spread its wings to include technology startups in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Botswana, Sénégal, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

At stake is $3 million in funding, working space and access to expert advisers from Silicon Valley and Africa, over the next three years.

Folagbade Olatunji-David, who heads startup success and services at the Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme said that in order to benefit, the startup must seek to find solutions to a need in its home city, country or Africa, and create value for its users.

These startups must be based in sub-Saharan Africa, their target must be the African market, and they need to have raised seed funding,” said Mr Olatunji-David