Google announces Ksh 480M fund to scale African startups

Kenyan startups have been challenged to develop cross-border solutions that will make them attractive to investors.

Google Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy Charles Murito says there is need to ensure governments in Africa work on policies and infrastructure to support adoption of pan-African tech solutions being developed in various markets.

“You do have the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which allows for data to flow from one country to the other. When you have data localization bills passing in different countries then companies such as BuuPass cannot be able to build their business beyond their borders,” said Murito.

This comes as twelve Kenyan startups make the cut in the second cohort of the Ksh 480 million ($4 million) Google for Startups Black Founders Fund (BFF) for Africa.

60 startups have been selected for the six months programme where each startup will get between Ksh 6 million ($50,000) and Ksh 12 million ($100,000) and up to Ksh 24 million ($200,000) in Google Cloud credit in order to scale their solutions and expand their presence in the continent.

Inaugural BFF launched last year had the first cohort pocket Ksh 360 million ($3 million).

Google Head of Startup Ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa Folarin Aiyegbusi has said the startups will also have access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling challenges that are unique to them.

“Africa is a diverse continent with massive opportunity but the continent is faced with the challenge of limited diversity in venture capital funding flow. We hope that the Black Founders Fund program will be able to bridge the gap of disproportionate funding between expat startups over local and black-led companies,” said Aiyegbusi.

One of the startups chosen for BFF is Solutech which provides Fast-Moving Goods firms with real-time data from the field sales teams who leveraging on powerful insights to help firms in their day-to-day and strategic decision-making.

Twelve Kenyan startups part of 60 others selected for the Black Founders Fund. PHOTO | Courtesy

Solutech Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Alexander Odhiambo, says the startup now operates in more than five countries involving more than 70 companies.

“BFF will help us in scaling and improving the technology to drive more into other markets. It will also help us leverage Google Talent pool to grow the venture,” said Odhiambo.

Odhiambo says the firm has helped companies achieve 99pc efficiency with the firm now targeting to build Customer Relations Management solutions for service industry and a Business-to-Business marketplace.

Other Kenyan startup beneficiaries include Ajua, BuuPass , DohYangu, FlexPay, Keep IT Cool, Leja, Synnefa, TIBU Health, TopUp Mama, Zanifu, Zuri Health.

Beneficiaries of this year’s fund are made up of 50pc women-led businesses, hailing from  Botswana,  Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.

They specialize in sectors such as fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, logistics, agtech, education, hospitality and smart cities.


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