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Google earmarks US$3m to boost black-owned African start-ups

By , Freelance Investigative Journalist
Africa , 08 Oct 2021

Some 50 black-led African start-ups have been selected to benefit from Google’s US$3-million Startup Black Founders Fund.

In addition to the non-equity funding, the company will also offer start-ups Google ad grants, Google Cloud credits and six months of hands-on support from experienced experts.

Part of a statement released by the company reads: Through the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund in Africa, we are supporting early-stage Black-founded startups on the continent. We want to bridge the existing fundraising gap for Black startup founders in Africa’s fast-growing technology landscape.”

The start-ups, which Google called “investable”, were selected from nine African countries, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia.

More than half were selected from Nigeria. .

The start-ups are focused on solution development to address a range of issues including: e-ticketing, logistics, Fintech, e-commerce, EdTech, agric-tech, health tech, real estate, AI-driven SaaS, waste management, digital social enterprise, ride-hailing, AI-driven insurance, digital security, analytics and automated fare collection.

Mellisa Bime, Founder of Infiuss Health (Cameroon) said the funding was a welcome relief as she had spoken to hundreds of investors and always got a negative response. “This cash injection will help us towards participant recruitment and product development,” she said.

Nghombombong Minuifuong, Founder of Bongalo (Rwanda); a digital marketplace for African travel accommodation, said: “Honoured. Humbled. Excited. Ready to put it to use! Can't wait to show the world what happens when you #FundBlackFounders. Let's get to work!” he wrote on Facebook.

Bongalo received U$100,000 in cash, US$120,000 in Google Ads grant and US$100,000 in Google Cloud credits.

In June 2020, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company was committing US$175-million, in addition to economic opportunity package, to support Black business owners, start-up founders, job seekers and developers.

The commitment was taken in response to both societal and financial pressures facing Black founders in a global economy where less than 0.5% of venture capital goes to Black-led start-ups in Africa.

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