Startup Wise Guys, Europe’s most experienced B2B startup accelerator, is expanding its programs to Africa. The accelerator has a program currently underway in Namibia, organized jointly with StartUp Namibia and Key2Investors, and will bring an additional four programs to the continent by 2022, with a particular focus on East and West Africa, regions where innovation is growing and where ecosystem capacity building can make the most meaningful impactful.
According to the African Development Bank, 22% of Africa’s working-age population are starting businesses, the highest rate of entrepreneurship in the world. Africa recently added a number of unicorns, and in October, Stripe acquired Nigerian fintech startup Paystack for $200 million, its biggest acquisition to date. Despite the pandemic, the year 2020 saw a record amount of funding go to an all-time high number of startups. However, investment and startup support in Africa is uneven, and many regions remain underserved.
Startup Wise Guys’ accelerator program in Namibia, organised jointly with StartUp Namibia and Key2Investors, represents the country’s first experience with a specialist, international startup accelerator. The three-month-long program, which concludes in June, is currently supporting 24 selected local startup founders, with an emphasis on raising investment and the fundamentals of leading a venture-backed business. StartUp Namibia, which launched in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, is on a mission to grow Namibia’s startup ecosystem and has already run several programs with an emphasis on broad-based training.
The Startup Wise Guys Namibian acceleration program comprises an international cohort of experts on fundraising, sales, marketing, product development, finance and legal matters. Local founders have been selected by StartUp Namibia on the basis of innovation, market size, growth potential and aptitude demonstrated in past local programs. The majority of participants, who are looking to raise up to N$600k, are B2B startups in areas such as agritech, legal tech, and fintech.
Startup Wise Guys has a long history of transforming technically savvy founders into successful startup entrepreneurs. Cristobal Alonso, Startup Wise Guys’ Global CEO, who will focus on best practices for pitching, is bringing with him a team that has led a number of portfolio startups to success, such as StepShot, acquired by UiPath in 2019.
“The pandemic forced us to go digital with our programs and we saw an incredible number of African startups interested in joining our programs remotely. Africa had been on our radar for some time, but distance and logistics made it difficult. Alongside our partners, we are now able to offer on-the-ground startup acceleration, supported and led through digital platforms. Our focus is on African countries where our capacity-building expertise for early stage startups will make the biggest impact,” said Cristobal Alonso, Global CEO at Startup Wise Guys.
“Although Namibia has a small population and market, we have thriving neighbouring markets which make the country a perfect launchpad to iterate ideas and scale into new markets across Africa. We believe that Namibia can offer a unique environment and ecosystem, which is why it is so crucial to build capacity with the support of the likes of Startup Wise Guys” – Kirstin Wiedow, GFA Team Leader of StartUp Namibia.
“We’re proud to be kicking off our partnership with Startup Wise Guys in Africa with a program that will enrich the Namibian startup ecosystem. We hope to make a significant impact for all the founders involved and for this to become a blueprint of a model for future programs in Namibia, Africa, and beyond,” said Petra Wolkenstein, founder of Key2Investors.