African economies are largely driven by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Unfortunately, startups often face various business-related challenges including insufficient capital, lack of sufficient business skills and knowledge, and ineffective marketing strategies. These problems result in most businesses failing in the 1st year or within the initial 5 years.
With the right people holding your hand, you can escape this plight. Business incubators for startups in Africa are there to do exactly that. This article will highlight some of the well-established ones.
Anza is a business accelerator that seeks to contribute to socio-economic developments in the country by supporting enterprises whose operations are geared towards improving the lives of the citizens either directly or indirectly. It focuses on entities that are in the healthcare, agriculture, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, or clean energy sectors.
It accomplishes its mission of supporting startups in Tanzania through capacity building, establishment of a community, access to funds, and fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem. In terms of capacity building, it runs an 8-month program that encompasses business training and consultation. It also connects entrepreneurs to professionals who will help them advance their businesses. Startups can also access a loan whose interest rate is lower than that of a traditional bank. Anza hubs, which are all-inclusive co-working spaces, are another way that Anza assists entrepreneurs to network and reduce the expenses associated with a startup.
Nailab has been in existence since 2010 following a partnership between Nailab Limited and 1% CLUB. Its key objective is to reduce the entry barriers experienced by ICT startups in Kenya. Sam Gichuru, who is the founder of this business incubator states,
We want to create an environment here startup entrepreneurs can leverage knowledge, technology and funding opportunities to solve problems facing emerging markets.
Through its ecosystem comprising of investors, developers, the private sector, development partners, and entrepreneurs, Nailab has helped over 500 startups access investment and mentorship opportunities. Its partners include Jack Ma Foundation, Close the Gap, and UNFPA. One of its notable projects is the entrepreneurship program that runs for 6 months. During this period, the beneficiaries acquire crucial skills on business concepts like product development and market acquisition.
Wennovation Hub (Nigeria)
This business incubator for startups was established in 2010 and has grown to impact a large number of budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria. It operates in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, and Kaduna. As a way of improving its surroundings, Wennovation hub focuses on startups within social impact industries such as social infrastructure, clean energy, healthcare, education, and agriculture. Its operations are conducted within three spheres: startup development, fortifying the startups’ ecosystem, and a consultation platform.
Its ability to support startups in the region has been enhanced through partnerships with successful entities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nations Foundation, Total, and the University of Lagos. To date, this business incubator has supported over 300 startups. It has empowered more than 6,000 youths by funding their business ideas with about $2.5 million. In addition to the financial support, training and mentorship programs, and established community, Wennovation hub has a co-working space that allows entrepreneurs to reduce their costs of operation while networking with other like-minded teams.
Injini (South Africa)
As one of the top business incubators for startups in Africa, Injini focuses on entities in the ed-tech sector. It’s incubation programs usually include mentorships, workshops, funding, and support throughout the scaling up process. These components benefit budding entrepreneurs who seek to improve Africa’s education sector through innovative technology.
Injini usually selects startups from different African countries and takes them through 5 months of business incubation before giving each of them $ 50,000 to advance their operations. Some of the startups that have benefited from this business incubator include M-Shule, Quillo, and Syafunda.
Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (Egypt)
This business incubator, which is commonly known as TIEC, is linked to Egypt’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. It was founded with the main intent of promoting ICT innovations and subsequently contributing to the growth of the national economy. It has several incubation programs such as Innovation Cluster, InnovEgypt, BEST, NTL, and TIEC-IA. All these schemes are geared towards supporting budding entrepreneurs in the country’s ICT sector.
Similar to the other mentioned business incubators for startups in Africa, TIEC offers mentorship, training, and beneficial networks to its beneficiaries. In addition, the selected startups get funding of up to $13,500 (120,000 Egyptian pounds) at the end of the one-year incubation program to scale up their business. It also helps startups reduce their operating costs by availing affordable co-working spaces. It is responsible for incubating companies like Bey2ollak and Ta2heal.
The entrepreneurial field can be a murky setup for startups. To survive and succeed in the targeted sector, you may need the guidance and support of an experienced and well-organized partner. With this in mind, the entities discussed in this article are some of the top business incubators for startups in Africa. These establishments offer relevant entrepreneurial training and mentorship, introduce you to an ecosystem of investors and mentors, and offer the needed financial support.