Despite the socio-economic issues confronting startups in the African continent, multinationals like Google are still providing a level playing field, making funds available to enable startups to upscale.
Amongst other investments Google has made in Africa, the search engine giant has designed a special program for black startup founders, as part of the support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The Black Lives Movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the deaths of two African Americans. The goal was to eradicate racism and have the same level playing ground with the Whites.
Historically, Google has identified talents in Africa and has shown commitment to investing in those talents. Through the effort of Google, some startups have become well-known companies.
This is where equity and venture firms come in. If they find the idea behind a startup reasonably adequate, they make the initial and much-needed investment in the startup.
Last year, Google gave out $1 billion for multi-faceted investment in Africa. The fund covered a range of initiatives; from improved connectivity to investments in startups for a period of five years.
Those areas include: enabling affordable access and building products for every kind of African user, helping businesses with their digital transformation, investing in entrepreneurs to spur next-generation technologies, and supporting nonprofits working to improve lives across Africa.
The success stories of startups in Africa are inconclusive should Google be excluded. The number of startups in Nigeria has added up to a quarter of what Statista reported in 2020.
Statista estimated at around 3,300 in 2020, the highest number in Africa. South Africa and Kenya counted approximately 660 and 600 startups in the same year, respectively. Other key African markets for startups were Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia, and Rwanda. How Is Google
How Google Is Helping Black Startup Founders?
On Tuesday, it came up with a Black-focused initiative designed to help startups – Google for Startup Black Founders Fund (BFF).
The web search giant said that 60 eligible Black-founded startups would receive a total of $4 million in the second cohort of BFF.
Folarin Aiyegbusi, Google’s Head of Start-up Ecosystem, Africa, made this known in a statement announcing the opening of applications for Google for Start-up Black Founders Fund for Africa.
Aiyegbusi said that following the success of the first cohort in 2021, Google increased its commitment in 2022 with additional one million dollars in funding, and support for 10 more founders.
He said that it would result in a commitment of four million dollars to 60 eligible Black-founded start-ups across Africa.
According to him, BFF Africa is open to start-ups in Nigeria, Botswana, Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
He said that while the 13 countries were the prime focus due to their active tech and start-up ecosystems, strong applications from other African countries would be considered.
‘’The Black Founders Fund Africa demonstrates our commitment to supporting innovations in underserved areas.
‘’Black-led tech startups face an unfair venture capital funding environment; that is why we are committed to helping them thrive on being better and ensure the success of communities and economies in our region.
‘’The fund will provide cash awards and hands-on support to 60 Black-led start-ups in Africa, which we hope will aid in developing affordable solutions to fundamental challenges affecting those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid in Africa.
‘’We are hopeful that the support received by the Black founders will enable them to grow their businesses and, in turn, drive economic growth in Africa as they create solutions and give back to their communities,” he said.
He said selected start-ups will receive between $50,000 and $100,000 non-dilutive cash awards and up to $200,000 per startup in Google Cloud credits.
Aiyegbusi further said that support in the form of training and access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling challenges unique to each start-up, would be provided and that early-stage start-ups with black founders or diverse founding teams were eligible for selection for BFF.
According to him, startups which are benefitting the Black community and those operating and headquartered in Africa as well as those with a diverse founding team, with at least one Black founding member, were also eligible.
He said that those having a legal presence on the continent and building technology solutions for Africa and the global market and those with the potential to raise more funding and create jobs were equally eligible.
Google for Startups Black Founders Fund was launched in the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement as part of Google’s racial equality commitment.
The initiative is aimed at driving economic opportunities for Black business owners.
Interested applicants can find more information at http://goo.gle/BFFAfrica. Application closes on May 31, while winners will be announced on July 29.