Partech, a Paris-based VC firm, has launched an accelerator program tagged Chapter54. The program will be spearheaded by its innovation division, Partech Shaker, to help European start-ups penetrate into the African markets.
The accelerator program will accept 10 technology start-ups annually over the next four years for the Chapter54 program, which will last for eight months. Application for the inaugural cohort will commence on the 7th of February until 5th of March. On 9th of March, the selected start-ups, "doers" will be announced and informed and begin the acceleration journey in April, 2022.
Africa has immense potential: a wealth of resources, entrepreneurial spirit, innovative strengths and cultural diversity. Most African states now count as a "middle-income country" — despite some setbacks due to the pandemic.
The population is also growing rapidly: By 2050, Africa's population will double. Already today, 40% of the population is under 15 years of age - and they are tech-savvy. By 2035, the continent will have the largest labour force in the world. 20 million new jobs will be needed per year. So the goal of the accelerator is to promote growth and create jobs.
The experience of European startups that are already active on the continent shows that a successful start in Africa requires market knowledge, local networks and access to skilled workers on the ground. Chapter54 offers a curated network of currently around 50 mentors and advisors from the field. Companies from all sectors are welcome - but they must possess business experience, be registered in a European country and active in two European countries, and have a solid financial foundation and regular income.
Some of the questions the accelerator program will answer include: how can operating models and go-to-market strategies be adapted to the local context? What are the legal framework conditions in the target country? How can I recruit qualified staff? How should products and services be adapted to the needs of local customers? Where can I best purchase consulting services?
Chapter54 will be funded with around $5.7 million (€5 million) by the KfW Development Bank on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
"Companies from all sectors are welcome – but they must have business experience, be registered in a European country and active in two European countries, and have a solid financial foundation and regular income", said KfW.
Vincent Previ, the managing director of Chapter54, told TechCrunch that start-ups will be taken through several preparation stages, including mentorship programs with founders running successful enterprises across the continent, and with C-suite tech or start-up executives.
"We have a very good knowledge of the European tech ecosystem because we are one of the most prominent investors in European tech. We are now a major investor in African tech, and we have the capacity to run innovative projects through Partech Shaker… From KfW’s view, we were a good player to run this acceleration program", said Previ.
Chapter54 will match mentors with start-ups based on their business models, conduct webinars with different speakers and review start-ups’ operation roadmaps "to check if what they have designed is consistent with the reality on the ground".
Previ said that during these sessions, they will “check that the participating companies have the right level of knowledge of what it means to run a tech business in Africa, and have what it takes to hire tech people.”
"We are going to have a session where we will compare the gig economies in Europe and Africa, and another where we will help them do a B2C market sizing in Africa (which is not similar to Europe)".
"If you want to enter Africa, you have to do it properly, and as per legal requirements. You have to tweak the way you work. We are going to help them to reinvent the way they operate their businesses (to enter African markets)".
Chapter54 will be targeting start-ups in growth stage with some sizable traction in the countries they operate in across Europe.
Partech has 15 investments in nine countries across Africa, including Wave; a U.S. and Senegal-based mobile money service provider, Tugende; a Ugandan mobility-tech company; and Trade Depot, a Nigeria and U.S.-based company that connects consumer goods brands to retailers.
Partech was founded in San Francisco and Paris and is one of the most active tech investors in the world. It provides capital, operational expertise and strategic support to start-up, venture and growth-stage entrepreneurs. Partech current portfolio includes over 200 companies in more than 30 countries, 14 of which are valued at more than $1 billion.
Interested founders and start-ups can click here to apply.