Is it True that Traditional Accelerator Models Won’t Work in Africa?
Accelerator programmes for African tech startups are slowly moving away from the batch-based “Silicon Valley approach” in favour of on-demand, needs-based, and corporate-supported models. The classic accelerator model, established in Silicon Valley and Europe by the likes of Y Combinator and 500 Startups, sees acceleration firms take significant stakes in startups in exchange for some advice, mentorship, connections and, in some cases, a small amount of funding. They typically see large numbers of startups take part in short, batch-based programmes that conclude with a demo day. Yet this “spray and pray” approach has not really worked in Africa. 88mph, which ran programmes in Nairobi, Cape Town and Lagos, closed its doors after minimal success, and increasingly accelerator programmes on the Continent are more niche-focused. For example, Injini or AlphaCode, look at later-stage businesses, like Knife Capital’s Grindstone, or choose different models altogether; while Founders Factory Africa, which launched in Johannesburg in 2018, plans to design, build and scale 100 disruptive tech startups across Africa over the next 5 years in partnership with corporates such as Standard Bank and Netcare.
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