Patrick Kelechi – In its efforts to bridge the unemployment gap in Africa, Google announced that 60 eligible black-founded startups across Africa have been selected for the second cohort of Google for Startups Black Founders Fund (BFF) in Africa.


Speaking at the unveiling of the beneficiaries in Abuja, on Tuesday, Google head of Startups Ecosystem Africa, Folarin Aiyegbusi, said the startups joining the programme would receive a total of $4 million in funding and support, to enable them scale up their ongoing work.


He said each of the selected startups would receive support in the form of a 6-month training programme that includes access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling challenges unique to them.


The programme launched in April 2012, created over 4,600 jobs and raised more than $290 million in funding.


The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund program would introduce the grantees in Africa to Google’s products, connections, and best practices, which will help the founders to level the playing field as they build better products and services that add value to the African economy.


“They will also be part of tailored workshops, support networks and community building sessions. The 60 grantees will also get non-dilutive awards of between $50,000 and $100,000 and up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credit.


“The grantees, made up of 50% women-led businesses, hail from Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. They specialise in sectors such as fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, logistics, agtech, education, hospitality and smart cities.


“The top five countries with the most startups selected for the program are Nigeria, with twenty-three grantees; Kenya, with twelve grantees; Rwanda, with six grantees; South Africa, with five grantees and Uganda, with four grantees. Botswana and Senegal have one selected startup each; Cameroon and Ghana both have three grantees each, while Ethiopia has two selected grantees.


“Africa is a diverse continent with massive opportunity, but the continent is faced with the challenge of limited diversity in venture capital funding flow. We hope that the Black Founders Fund program will be able to bridge the gap of disproportionate funding between expat startups over local and black-led companies”, Ayegbusi said, adding that funding for Google for Startup Black Founders Fund would be distributed through Google’s implementation partner- CcHUB.


“The equity-free cash assistance to startups will enable them to take care of immediate needs such as paying staff, funding inventory, and maintaining software licences.


“This is to help the grantees buffer the cost of taking on debt in the early stages of their business as many of them do not have steady revenue streams yet”, he said.


One of the beneficiaries of the programme and alumni of the 2021 BFF program, the CEO of my medicines, Abimbola Adebakin; said the Funding Black founders in Africa fuels generational and systemic change.


Adebakin further said the programme reinforces Google’s commitment to empowering entrepreneurs and startups in the region as a vital prerequisite to driving employment and growth on the continent.