Boosting the potential of Africa’s digital start-ups

The World Bank-funded XL Africa programme has just selected 20 of Africa's top digital start-ups. They are now being matched with mentors who will prepare them to meet with investors as they seek capital for their businesses growth, regionally and beyond.

Monday 11 September 2017

The digital economy plays a key role driving innovation, growth and jobs, which in turn leads to political stability.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there is no shortage of accelerators that help start-ups develop new products and services. But later-stage start-ups, which are already generating revenue and have ambition to grow across borders, struggle to access critical support.


Mainly because accelerators often do not have the resources to take them to the next level: expanding their customer base, entering new markets and accessing capital.

So in 2016 the World Bank launched XL Africa, the only pan-African accelerator programme designed to support these later-stage technology start-ups in this way.

The programme, implemented by IMC along with VC4A and Koltai and Co., has now reached a key stage. In August 2017, we selected the 20 most promising start-ups from over 900 that applied.

These companies span the continent. From Senegal in the west, to Kenya in the east, and south to South Africa, they specialise in digital products and solutions in fields as diverse as fintech, transportation, healthcare, education, human resources and business-to-business.

Finally we have a programme that offers this growing pool of ventures a channel for taking that next step into Series A and in the hunt to become Africa’s next great success story.

– Ben White, Founder of VC4A.

All companies provide a technology-intensive or technology-based product or service currently available in one or more African markets and show real potential to scale across the region and beyond.

We are now helping these 20 start-ups to develop and implement a tailored growth strategy and business model. We are also matching them virtually with industry experts and world-class mentors with proven ability to grow companies and facilitate relationship-building with investors and corporate partners.

In November 2017, the entrepreneurs will attend an intensive two-week Residency in Cape Town, where they will have the opportunity to interact with their mentors, peers, and partners, before concluding with the XL Africa Venture Showcase on the 15th and 16th. Here, in association with the annual African Angel Investor Summit, entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of investors and corporations, aiming to raise between $250,000 and $1.5 million.

Selection for XL Africa is a huge achievement by the 20 start-ups.

Africa’s digital economy future is in their hands. Their success will mean job creation and extended access to essential products and services to marginalised communities, directly benefiting people’s livelihoods.

For more information on XL Africa and the 20 start-ups, visit

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