Since 2021, Google has backed 110 African startups through the Black Founders Fund

After investing over $7 million into 110 African startups within two years, Google through the Black Founders Fund wants to invest in more startups on the continent.

Since 2021, Google has backed 110 African startups through the Black Founders Fund
Some of the African founders backed by the Google Black Founders Fund

Black-led startups globally accounted for 0.5% of the venture capital funding in 2020, according to Google. To bridge this gap, the big tech firm launched the Black Founders Fund (BFF) in 2020 across Africa, Europe, South America and North America.

The fund provides founders with about $100,000 in equity-free investment and $200,000 in Google Cloud Credits, and access to the best of Google—people, products, and practices.

Since its first African cohort in 2021, the Google Black Founders Fund has invested $7 million into 110 African startups. About 44% of these startups are based in Nigeria, while others are from Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Rwanda, Zambia, Botswana, Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire.

"These startups have raised over $107 million in follow-on funding, hired 824 staff members, and expanded their revenue growth," Folarin Aiyegbusi, Google's Head of Startup Ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa, said in a statement seen by "These startups showcase the immense potential and positive impact that Black founders in Africa can bring to their respective industries and communities with the right support and resources."

In 2022, 50% of the selected startups were women-led, an improvement from 40% representation in 2021.

According to the Digital Economy Diagnostics Botswana report by the World Bank, only 4% of startups in the country have a female member in their founding team.

Batswana female entrepreneur, Naledi Magowe, the co-founder and chief growth officer of Brastorne was selected for the Google Black Founders Fund in 2022. She has recorded significant growth since then.

The Botswana-based platform connects farmers, youth, and women who can't afford smartphones or expensive data but have feature phones to the resources they need.

"With Google's support, Brastorne was able to invest in new analytics and business intelligence systems that allowed them to track user behaviour metrics more effectively. This investment proved crucial to their success, as they have since launched successfully in Cameroon and reached an impressive 100,000 users in the first month alone," Aiyegbusi added.

BFF is part of Google's $1 billion commitment to support "digital transformation" across Africa. Aside from making equity investments into African startups, the company has landed a subsea cable on the continent to boost connectivity. Google's subsea cable, Equiano, which connects Africa with Europe, now runs through Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa.

In April 2022, Google launched its first product development centre in Africa to build "transformative" products and services for the African market and the world. The centre in Nairobi is Google's second major research and development investment in Africa after the tech giant set up an AI and research centre in Ghana in 2019.

Last year, Nitin Gajria, Managing Director of Google Sub-Saharan Africa announced the company's intent to establish a Google Cloud region in South Africa – our first on the continent. South Africa will be joining Google Cloud’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.

How to apply for the 2023 Google Black Founders Fund

"We are excited to announce that the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund is now accepting applications from Black founders across the African continent. Eligible startups should have a technology-based product or service in the early stage or growth phase and demonstrate the potential to scale," Aiyegbusi said.

According to him, all applicants must have a Black founder who plays an active leadership role in the company and be based in one of the eligible countries.

The eligible countries include Botswana, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Applications for the latest Founders Fund in Africa are now open until March 26, 2023 (23:59 GMT) find out more and apply below. Founders will receive up to $150,000 in an equity-free cash award, up to a further $200k in Cloud Credits and access to the best of Google.

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