Accelerators are one of the many institutions supporting start-ups on their journeys early on; others include incubators and angel investors. In Africa, accelerators are finding a home and emerging in indirect proportion to the increasing number of start-ups springing up at almost every corner of the continent. 10 accelerators improving Africa’s start-up ecosystem are featured today, but before diving right in a brief about the nature of accelerators.
Accelerators are not incubators, though both share some similarities and the terms are often used interchangeably. According to Susan Cohen and Yael Hochberg, they have four distinct factors which make them unique: they are fixed-term, mentorship-driven, cohort-based and culminate in a graduation or “demo day.”
The accelerator experience is like a sprint. It is a fast, immersive and intense learning process geared towards accelerating the stages of innovative, young companies, condensing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into a few months.
Accelerators give founders the chance to test out their business models in a safe space as well as spot any weaknesses and tweak accordingly. At the end of the program, most companies are investment-ready.
A typical accelerator program runs for three to six months. In the end, some accelerators proffer seed investment meant for anything or all of the following – market the product, fine-tune the product, fund research, hire top talent. In return, they request for a small share of the start-up.
Below are 10 accelerators developing Africa’s start-up ecosystem.
Akro Accelerate. Cape Town, South Africa.
Akro Accelerator helps entrepreneurs get start-up advice, raise venture funding, and build better businesses. It aims to get companies investment-ready and funded within five months of starting its 20-week programme which is divided into two phases – the eight weeks core phase and the extended phase of 12 weeks.
Antler. Nairobi, Kenya
Antler is a global, early-stage venture capital investing and supporting exceptional entrepreneurs. Its vibrant start-up hub in Nairobi brings together founders from all backgrounds to build the defining companies of tomorrow. For 10 weeks, Antler Nairobi’s program takes founders through a fun, intense and rewarding process.
Co-Creation Hub. Lagos, Nigeria
Co-Creation Hub is an innovation centre focused on accelerating economic prosperity through the application of technology and social capital. Its fast-paced, execution-driven, 12-week acceleration program is designed to help start-ups refine their products, business model and processes, as well as position them for sustained growth.
AUC Ventures Lab. Cairo, Egypt
AUC Venture Lab is Egypt’s first university-based, start-up accelerator in Africa and the MENA region. It assists innovation-driven and passionate entrepreneurs who want to change their solutions and technologies into applicable businesses. AUC Ventures Lab currently runs two 16-week programs, the start-up accelerator program and the Fintech accelerator program.
Falax Start-ups. Cairo, Egypt
Falax Start-ups is driven by the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation and its venture capital division, Egypt Ventures. It aims to discover and empower talented, ambitious seed stage tech start-up founders and help them thrive in Egypt’s fast-changing business environment. It focuses on improving start-ups’ product-market fit; fine-tuning their businesses, operating and revenue models; growing their customer base; and raising follow-on investments.
Google for Start-ups Accelerator: Africa. Lagos, Nigeria
Google for Start-ups Accelerator: Africa is an accelerator program for seed to Series A technology start-ups across the African continent which lasts for three months. Start-ups using machine learning and AI in the program receive the best of Google’s programs, products, people and technology.
Innovate Ventures. Hargeisa, Somalia
Innovate Ventures is recognized as the leading technology fund and start-up accelerator in Somalia. The 12-week accelerator program is structured to help founders and start-ups succeed and fail faster. The program assists start-ups in identifying if they are headed down the wrong path and iterate quickly from any ambiguity in their business models faster to succeed.
MEST Africa. Accra, Ghana
MEST is an Africa-wide, technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs extending incubation for technology start-ups in Africa.
The MEST Express Start-up Accelerator is a 20-week program which collaborates with founders to accelerate their business growth, create more impact and become investor-ready.
Orange Fab. Tunis, Tunisia
Orange Fab’s acceleration program runs for 12 weeks. It offers promising start-ups the chance to develop their businesses as well as managerial reinforcement. The accelerator meets the needs of start-ups that develop services and products in a wide variety of fields.
The Baobab Network. Nairobi, Kenya
Built for Africa, The Baobab Network is a technology accelerator which is investing in the next crop of African tech entrepreneurs. It has a bespoke accelerator for one-of-a-kind start-ups. The 14-week program is intensive and unique and ensures that the graduate start-ups from every cohort go on to become successful.