Google Launches African Tech Incubator
In a move aimed at fostering business growth in Africa, Google has announced the launch of it’s new technology incubator; Umbono.
Umbono will bring together seed capital, Google mentorship, angel investors, local tech stars, entrepreneurs and business leaders. The Umbono programme will be based in Cape Town, South Africa and will help selected start-up teams transform their ideas into viable businesses.
As part of its goal to strengthen the web ecosystem across Africa, Google hopes that Umbono will further encourage the growth of the developer community and support the country’s already flourishing tech sector.
“The South African tech scene is incredibly dynamic, particularly in Cape Town,” said Luke McKend, Google South Africa Country Manager. “We’ve seen some terrific start-ups come from this environment, companies like Yola, MXit and Twangoo. Google’s latest investment with Umbono is a great extension of our overall strategy in the region to strengthen the web ecosystem.”
For six months, teams will enjoy free office space and bandwidth, in addition to the US$25,000 to $50,000 in funding they’ll receive from Umbono’s panel of angel investors and Google. Throughout the programme, teams will not only benefit from local connections, but also from the extensive mentorship network of Google experts who can provide guidance on issues ranging from product design and commercialisation, to legal incorporation and valuation.
“Our mentor base is a key component of the Umbono programme,” said Johanna Kollar, Umbono Programme Manager. “Our experts – Googlers from around the world who are volunteering their time – are passionate about technology in Africa and will be able to help teams with the challenges they face, whether it be on the product, business or technical front.”
Community integration is essential to successful incubator programmes, and Google is collaborating with the Silicon Cape Initiative and the Bandwidth Barn, A Cape Town based IT networking organisation and original business incubator, respectively. These local leaders will ensure that Umbono’s teams are well positioned to succeed. “Google’s Umbono programme is a welcome addition to Cape Town’s tech scene – there’s a lot of talent and enthusiasm for technology here, and many just need that window of opportunity,” said Justin Spratt, board member for Silicon Cape.
Applications will be live on the Umbono website from March 22nd, and the programme is open to all South African residents. The deadline for first round applicants is April 15, 2011, but the website will continue to accept applications from interested candidates.
By Angela Meadon