Scaling up digital innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa

The XL Africa project helps tech start-ups develop successful growth strategies and connects them with mentors and investors so they can scale.

The World Bank recognises that the digital economy and entrepreneurship play a key role driving innovation, growth and jobs across Africa.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there is no shortage of accelerators that help start-ups develop new products and services. However, later-stage start-ups, which already generate revenue and aim to grow further and across borders, cannot find the necessary support. This is 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.

That is why the World Bank has launched XL Africa, the only pan-African accelerator programme designed to allow these later-stage technology start-ups to grow. An IMC-led consortium has been chosen to select 20 of the most ambitious technology start-ups across the continent.

Over the next two years, XL Africa will help them develop and implement a tailored growth strategy and business model. We will also match them with industry experts and world-class mentors with proven ability to grow companies and facilitate relationship-building with corporate partners and investors.

The majority of start-ups will mostly be operational in the areas of fintech, agritech, transportation, energy, e-health, e-learning, e-commerce, smart cities, and media.

XL Africa will support the entire matchmaking process, from assessing gaps in start-ups’ operational and financial growth plans to supporting them to complete deals with investors.

XL Africa

In this journey, IMC is accompanied by VC4A (Venture Capital for Africa) and Koltai and Co. VC4A is a platform for start-up funding and a fast-growing community of business professionals in 159 countries dedicated to building game-changing companies on the African continent. Koltai and Co is made up of a team of consultants drawn from the worlds of start-ups, business, banking, and international development, which design and manage programmes to spur entrepreneurship around the world.

By helping start-ups to grow, XL Africa aims to create employment that uses local skills and extend access to essential products and services to marginalised communities, directly benefiting people’s livelihoods.

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.

   Learn more and apply on XL Africa website.

Project Name

XL Africa

project status



World Bank

Focus areas
contact person

Louise Cathro

Principal Consultant, Programme Management
last updated

June 7, 2018