Google Launchpad Accelerator to Offer $3m to African Start-ups

Emma Okonji

Over the next three years, the Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme has revealed it will provide African start-ups with over $3 million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa. Participants received travel and PR support during each three-month program.

Launchpad is a global mentoring programme that helps start-ups build and scale great products by matching them with the best of Google – its people, network, and advanced technologies.

Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa is a regional Launchpad – an acceleration programme for top early-stage African startups – that was announced on 27 July 2017 at Google for Nigeria by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, It operates out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Google announced the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class on 9 November and applications closed on 10 December 2017.

On 18 March 2018, Google announced the start-ups who would participate in the first Google Accelerator Africa Launchpad, including companies from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.

To qualify, start-ups had to be in the technology sector, based in sub-Saharan Africa, targeting the African market that had already raised seed funding.

Google additionally considered the problem the start-up is trying to solve, how it creates value for users, and how they addressed a real challenge for their home city, country or Africa broadly.

Launchpad Class 1 graduated on 8 June 2018, by which time the three month programme had connected the 12 participating start-ups with more than 20 teams from Google as well as 40 mentors from nine countries including India, the UK, USA and Jamaica. Each has received $10, 000 in an equity-free cash grant, and between them they have raised over $7 million.

The start-ups have directly created 132 jobs and impacted 4.5 million users.

Launchpad Accelerator Africa Class 2 applications were announced on 8 June 2018 and Google also announced it is extending the program to include startups from a further 11 African countries.

Owing to this, Google is now accepting applications from start-ups in 17 countries across the continent including Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Cameroon, Botswana, Sénégal, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire and the existing six – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda. The Class 2 was announced on 27 August and comprises 11 start-ups from six countries.

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