2018 has been a good year for African startups as support for the continent’s budding businesses just keeps getting better and better. Once more, Africa has scored for itself a new and huge startup fund from the French government.
French president, Emmanuel Macron, recently announced a new government-backed fund for startups across Africa. Speaking at the opening of the VivaTech conference last week, Macron shared that his government, through the French Development Agency, will support African startups with a $76.1m (€65m) fund. This fund was unveiled as part of the Digital Africa initiative.
🌍 '@AFD_en is about to launch a new investment vehicle with a €65m budget in order to [support local ecosystems in #Africa], by addressing specifically start-ups' need for small tickets, namely €30k to €50k'
President Macron at #VivaTech pic.twitter.com/DlgE3IiKmd
— Max Cuvellier (@Cvllr) May 24, 2018
What is Digital Africa ?
Digital Africa is a new initiative being introduced by the French government. It was created by France is partnership with multiple other bodies.
The initiative looks to provide a simple platform to help promote African entrepreneurs. The platform encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing. It also provides an online database for resources, funding and events.
The platform will launch a few weeks from now, Macron said.
Why is the Digital Africa Initiative Important?
For a long time, French development assistance has largely focused on Francophone African states. However, with the new thinking of the young Macron, France is set to expand its development efforts across Africa.
“There is an increasing unity across Africa, which provides the basis for the launch of a comprehensive strategy aimed at collectively supporting the growth of digital ecosystems across the continent,” said Macron.
The President of France Mr. Macron stopped by the Medsaf stand! Medsaf will be pitching at Viva Tech Nigeria Pitch Contest on Stage B between 5pm to 6:30pm today! Come see how Medsaf is solving fake and substandard medication problem in Africa. @vivatech @MedsafCom pic.twitter.com/KKzrZAclxp
— Medsaf.com (@MedsafCom) May 24, 2018
Through the Digital Africa initiative and the recently announced funds, France will support each startup with funds ranging from €30,000 to €50,000.
“I call on all African entrepreneurs, from all the countries on the continent, to join this Digital Africa initiative, and to join the platform,” he said.
Confidence in African Startups Continues to Increase
The new French development fund comes as a huge boost for the African startup ecosystem. In recent years, African startups have made giant strides in their innovations and the pace of their innovations. And over the last 3 years, investments in African startups have reached new highs. In 2017, African startups collectively received about $195m.
Macron warns the digital revolution will fail if companies don’t address its social impact #vivatech @obrien https://t.co/qVeO94gebL
— 🇺🇦Evan Kirstel #TechFluencer (@EvanKirstel) May 24, 2018
Importantly too, African startups are emerging to tackle important problems, ranging from agriculture, finance to healthcare. As a result, African startups are no longer just for-profit, they are now heavily pro-development. Digital Africa shows that France has recognised this trend is keen to support.
Macron, who has made several travels to Africa, views startups on the continent as energetic.
African startups have energy but the big providers of development aid and financiers have not adapted to that. We ourselves are too slow, too hesitant.
His call for support for African startups will be hugely important going forward. Despite the lack of guarantee that the Digital Africa will blossom as envisioned, its declaration remains a powerful push for support for African startups.
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