On Wednesday, 03 October 2018, Google hosted Class 2 of the Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme in Johannesburg, South Africa. Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa Class 2 was officially announced and kicked off on 27 August in Lagos, Nigeria.
Launchpad is a global mentoring programme that helps startups build and scale their products by matching them with the best of Google – its people, network, and advanced technologies.
“The Launchpad programme is purely a business move, it is not a CSR project. We believe that Google as an organisation thrives when other organisations in the ecosystem thrive. We believe Google thrives when more people are on the internet, making an earning and learning how to build their businesses. The businesses selected as part of the programme are businesses we believe in the next few years can make a huge impact on their societies. They will be able to influence their communities and more people will benefit,” said Fola Olatunji-David, Launchpad Accelerator Africa head of startup success and services.
In June, Google opened applications for Class 2. The company also announced that it is expanding the program to include startups from a further 11 African countries including Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Cameroon, Botswana, Sénégal, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire and the existing six – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda. This means it is now accepting applications from startups in 17 countries across the continent.
“One thing that stands out about the programme is that it is Africa focused. It is run by Africans, the mentors are African and the startups are African,” said Olatunji-David.
Applicants needed to be an early stage technology startup based in Sub-Saharan Africa, targeting the African market, that had already raised seed funding. Google additionally considered the problem the startup is trying to solve, how it creates value for users and how it addresses a real challenge for their home city, country or Africa broadly. Further, Google looked at whether the startup would share what they will learn from the programme for the benefit of other startups in their local ecosystem.
The startups each receive:
● 3 months intense mentorship and support from Google
● Cloud and Firebase Credits
● Three weeks all-expense-paid training at Launchpad Accelerator Africa (Lagos and Johannesburg)
● Access to Google engineers, resources, and mentors, during and after the programme
● Inclusion in the Launchpad Accelerator Global Community and network of alumni and mentors
The 11 startups from six countries, in alphabetical order, are:
AppZone (Nigeria): AppZone builds Software as a service (SaaS) fintech software ecosystems for digital banks, allowing them to reduce operational costs while improving service delivery.
Chalkboard Education (Ghana): Allows educational institutions to make their curricula available via mobile devices (USSD, SMS, and internet). It also lets those institutes gather insights about student learning patterns and helps them create and adapt curricula for the mobile space.
Cloud9xp (Kenya): Cloud9xp is an online marketplace and booking service that allows people to buy and sell experiences in various locations across Africa and the Middle East.
EzyAgric (Uganda): EzyAgric is an on-demand platform that provides inclusive and data-driven access to finance, production and marketing services for farmers and agribusinesses in Uganda. It does so through a network of youth agents equipped with smartphones and other forms of agricultural technology, providing employment and helping farmers improve yields and market access in one go.
Formplus (Nigeria): Formplus allows companies to collect online and offline data through the use of customisable digital forms. The startup also provides analytics based on form answers and allows for payment collection via PayPal, Stripe and Flutterwave
Medsaf (Nigeria): Medsaf is a one-stop, curated medication marketplace for African hospitals and pharmacies.
Mintrics (Egypt): This social video intelligence platform helps brands and agencies understand how people are interacting with their social videos, giving them insight into what is and isn’t working and thereby maximising their ROI.
PayGo Energy (Kenya): PayGo’s smart meter and connected software service allows players in the LP gas (LPG) value chain to better service their customers, driving the adoption of clean cooking fuels.
Pineapple (South Africa): Pineapple’s unique machine learning technology allows users to easily insure individual items using just a mobile app.
Preeva (South Africa): Preeva is an online platform that connects students with young educators who provide tutoring help at school and university.
Thank U Cash (Nigeria): Thank U Cash is an online rewards platform that allows consumers to save and earn loyalty points that can be swapped for cash and merchants to benefit from extra spend.
In March this year, Google kicked off the first class of Launchpad Accelerator Africa. Twelve startups graduated, with more than 20 teams from Google and 40 mentors from nine countries supporting them. The startups have directly created 132 jobs and, between them, have raised over $7 million in funding. Their products are being used by approximately 4.5 million people.