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Google announced the list of startups who will participate in the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class and over the the next three years the programme will provide African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa.
Late 2017, the company launched the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa – acceleration program that matches top African startups with the best of Google – its people, network, and advanced technologies – to help build great products.
“We are thrilled to announce this, the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class and look forward to working with them to drive innovation into the African market. Africa is home to some incredibly smart people who are working to solve the continent’s problems using homegrown solutions and we’re honoured to be able to be part of that,” said Charles Murito, Google Kenya Country Manager.
Google has also partnered with Udacity and Andela to provide 15 000 single course scholarships and 500 nanodegree scholarships to aspiring and professional developers across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa
To qualify, startups have to be a technology startup, based in Sub-Saharan Africa, targeting the African market and have already raised seed funding. Google additionally considered the problem the startup is trying to solve, how it creates value for users, and how they addressed a real challenge for their home city, country or Africa broadly. Participants receive travel and PR support during each three-month program.
Kenyan startups in the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class include Flexpay – an automated and secured layaway e-commerce system and Pezesha – a scalable Peer to Peer microlending marketplace that provides secure loans to Kenyans, via mobile money, using big data and credit analytics. Also in the class are startups from Uganda and Tanzania namely Teheca – an app which helps families and individuals find the right health care providers/workers in Uganda, andTangoTv – a Tanzanian media streaming and video on demand service for African local content, films and shows.
Google is committed to the Sub-Saharan Africa developer ecosystem and has, since April 2016, hosted 13 Launchpad Build and Start events across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, featuring some 228 speakers and engaging 590 attendees from local startups in each country.
Google also runs programs such as Google Developer Groups and Women Techmakers, providing training and support for developers aligned with real-life job competency requirements. Community groups engage in activities like Study Jams – study groups for developers. There are some 140 communities across 25 countries in SSA. Some 61 of these groups hosted 81 Study Jams in 10 countries reaching over 5 000 developers in the last year.