Twenty African digital start-ups are set to secure between $250,000 and $1.5 million from the World Bank Group under its XL Africa initiative attracting early stage capital.
The programme which is a five-month business acceleration scheme is designed to support the 20 most promising digital start-ups from Sub-Saharan Africa, who will receive mentoring from global and local experts; learn through a tailor-made curriculum; increase their regional visibility; and get access to potential corporate partners and investors.
MakhtarDiop, vice president, Africa Region at the World Bank, said that digital start-ups are important drivers of innovation in Africa.
“To scale and spread new technologies and services beyond borders, they need an integrated ecosystem that provides access to regional markets and global finance; pan-African initiatives like XL Africa play a critical role by linking local start-ups with corporations and investors across the continent,” Diop added.
Klaus Tilmes, director of the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group, said that XL Africa aims to put a spotlight on the continent’s growing digital economy by scouting for and supporting the most innovative tech start-ups.
“The success of these ventures will create a demonstration effect that can attract much-needed growth investment in the sector and catalyze scaling of transnational businesses in the region,” he explained.
The programme’s flagship activity includes a two-week residency in Cape Town, South Africa, where the ventures will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from their mentors, peers, and local partners; conclude with the Venture Showcase, a regional event in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors.
LexiNovitske, Principal Investment Officer for Singularity Investments, a venture group based in Lagos stated that “The programme’s unique combination of targeted mentorship and access to investors represents a vital resource for digital ventures ready to grow.
“By connecting innovative business ideas with the knowledge and resources available in the ecosystem, XL Africa will create a pipeline of investment-ready companies, unlocking better investment opportunities for regional and global investors.”
The programme will also partner with prominent African investment groups, including the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell Investments, Knife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network (SABAN), TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital, and corporate partners, which include Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.
XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A, and Koltai& Co.

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