Starting a business is not an easy task. From raising capital and managing cash flow to keeping up with market trends, networking and brand building, the challenges are numerous and not one that you can take lightly.
Now, imagine having access to mentorship, guidance, and funding all in one place! That’s what startup accelerators do for you — to accelerate your startup's growth. It's a mentor-based program that provides intensive guidance, support and structure for a set period of time, typically three months.
There’s a ton of accelerator programs that accept African FinTech startups. However, beyond the program, these accelerators hardly elevate the status of the startups by exposing them to more prominent investors and offer little to no after accelerator support.
However, getting into some accelerator programs are game changers because of the clout and the exposure they offer the startups in addition to funding, tools and infrastructures to build.
Here are six renowned accelerator programs focused on African fintech startups: Visa Africa FinTech Accelerator, Bank of America Breakthrough Lab, Google Black Founders Fund, African FinTech Foundry, ARM Labs Techstars Lagos Program, AWS FinTech Africa Accelerator.
Visa Africa FinTech Accelerator
Visa recently launched the new FinTech Accelerator program to enable Africa’s expanding start-up community through expertise, connections, technology, and investment funding.
The Fintech Accelerator will empower up to 40 start-ups each year to accelerate and grow through a three-month intensive learning program focused on business growth and mentoring.
The Africa Fintech Accelerator program follows Visa’s recent pledge to invest $1 billion in Africa’s digital transformation and its long-term commitment to advancing Africa’s economies and driving inclusive growth. The program will start taking applications in July 2023.
Bank of America Breakthrough Lab
Bank of America Breakthrough Lab is an impact accelerator program that provides economic opportunity and capital access to Black, Hispanic-Latino, Native American and other underrepresented entrepreneurs.
The six-month program provides tailored mentorship, digital expertise, networking with industry experts and access to potential investors to entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities so that they can scale up their technology-related businesses.
At the end of the six months, each startup gets an opportunity to vie for equity investments, we have a pitch day, and they get an opportunity to pitch in front of investors and providers of capital. Bank of America does not take any equity in the startups.
Google Black Founders Fund
Established in 2020, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund helps Black-led startups in Africa, Brazil, Europe, and the United States secure funding, strengthen communities, and create generational change.
Although not focused on FinTech founders alone, eligible startups must have a technology-based product or service in the early stage or growth phase and demonstrate the potential to scale. Applicants must have a Black founder who plays an active leadership role in the company and be based in one of the eligible countries.
Successful applicants get up to $100,000 in equity-free cash, access to Google's people, products, and practices. Selected founders have the opportunity to connect with founders from all over the world.
African FinTech Foundry
Africa FinTech Foundry (AFF) is an Access Bank initiative that aims to nurture, fund, and accelerate the growth of FinTech startups in Africa through its mentorship and accelerator programmes.
Every year, the program runs two cohorts. The first cohort runs from January to April and the second cohort runs from August to November. The accelerator program admits six technology startups per cohort and connects them to investors.
Successful applicants get access to the market across Access Bank's customers and subsidiaries, 12-week mentorship, $25,000 worth of services per startup, and discounted cloud services/hardware and software subscriptions from Access Bank's tech partners.
ARM Labs Techstars Lagos Program
The ARM Labs Techstars Lagos program is Techstars' only on-ground accelerator in Africa. The program is a partnership between Techstars, the most active pre-seed investor in the world that provides access to capital, opportunities and connections to early-stage entrepreneurs, and ARM Labs, a Lagos-based innovation program.
The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator program supports startups based in Africa that are building innovative companies across FinTech, Mobility, E-commerce and TalentTech.
The three-month, in-person program is based in Lagos, Nigeria. During the program, startups get their value proposition refined through extensive hands-on training and exposure to over 100 Techstars mentors.
There’s also tailored workshops and one-on-one support from top ecosystem operators and founders. Startups are also prepared for fundraising, and the building of investor relationships.
Successful startups who get into the program secure up to $120,000 in equity funding, and can then pitch to investors at demo day.
AWS FinTech Africa Accelerator
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) FinTech Africa Accelerator is a virtual, equity-free 10-week program that leverages the best of Amazon's infrastructure and partner network to support pre-seed and seed stage FinTech startups developing their projects in Africa and beyond.
The program accepts applications from startups in the following categories: Open & Embedded Finance, Big Data & AIML, Blockchain & Decentralised finance, FinTech-as-a-service, Financial inclusion & Sustainability and others
AWS FinTech Africa Accelerator trains chief executive and chief technology officers in strategy, tech team management, product development, and helps founders prepare for navigating the complexities of fundraising. Amazon does not take equity or debt in the companies.
Startups that are selected will join AWS’ Activate program which provides founders with up to $25,000 in Activate Credits, and other services. Founders will also participate in workshops and one-on-one sessions with industry experts to address specific challenges their company faces.