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9 Nigerian Firms for World Bank’s 20 Top African Start-Ups Digital Course

By Dipo Olowookere

No fewer than nine firms linked with Nigeria have been shortlisted among the 20 most promising African digital start-ups to partake in the XL Africa residency, the flagship initiative of the business accelerator launched last April by the World Bank Group’s infoDev program.

From November 6-17, 2017 in Cape Town, the entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn from their mentors and peers, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors.

The residency will conclude with the XL Africa Venture Showcase, a regional event organized in association with the African Angel Investor Summit, in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors.

With support from African investment groups, XL Africa will help the start-ups attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million.

Selected from a pool of over 900 applicants, these start-ups specialize in digital solutions for the African market, including fin-tech, transportation, health care, education, human resources, and B2B. All companies provide a digital product or service currently available in one or more African markets and show potential to scale across the region.

“We are pleased by the interest infoDev and XL Africa generated across the continent in just a few months,” said Klaus Tilmes, Director of the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group. “XL Africa attracted firms with high-growth potential; many have female co-founders, have already raised early stage investment, and have demonstrated significant market traction. The number and quality of applications received are a clear testament to the competitiveness of African start-ups and the key role they play in Africa’s growing digital economy.”

The selection for XL Africa was conducted by a panel of industry experts from the International Finance Corporation (IFC); implementing partners IMC Worldwide, Koltai & Co, and Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A); as well as investors from prominent African funds, including Knife Capital, 4Di Capital LLP, Singularity Investments, TLcom Capital LLP, Goodwell Investments, Nest Africa, and Africa Tech Ventures.

“We encountered very strong companies, particularly in the transportation, HR, and data analytics sectors,” said Danai Musandu, investment associate at Goodwell Investments. “We also observed signals of a nascent pipeline of digital companies beyond the traditional hot spots of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. These talented entrepreneurs are among those who are going to drive innovation on the continent and offer great opportunities for investors looking at African markets.”

The selected start-ups participating in the event are Aerobotics (Data, South Africa); Asoko Insight (Data, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, United Kingdom, and Nigeria); Coin Afrique (Marketplace, Senegal and Benin); Edgepoint Digital (Jamii) (FinTech – Insurance, Tanzania); Electronic Settlement Limited (FinTech, Nigeria); Lynk Jobs Ltd. (HR, Kenya); MAX (Transport, Nigeria); ogaVenue (Venue Platform, Nigeria); Ongair (SME Services, Kenya); Pesabazaar.com (FinTech, Kenya); Prepclass (EdTech, Nigeria); Printivo (Printing, Nigeria); and Rasello Company Ltd. (SME Services, Tanzania).

Others are Rensource (Energy, Nigeria); Sendy Ltd. (Delivery, Kenya); Snapplify (Publishing, South Africa and Kenya); Sokowatch (Delivery, Kenya); TalentBase (HR, Nigeria); Timbuktu (Travel, South Africa); and Tizeti Network Ltd. (Connectivity, Nigeria).

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.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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