Introducing The Boost Africa Initiative, A New Plan To Finance Startups And Early Stage Businesses On The Continent

The Boost Africa Initiative, a unique partnership in support of innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa, was launched last week in Abidjan by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in partnership with the European Commission.

The initiative aims to foster the development of an efficient entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa by supporting the earliest and riskier stages of the venture value chain in an economically viable and sustainable way.

Boost Africa aims to support young entrepreneurs to create innovative and compelling businesses with the capacity to compete regionally and globally, to attract domestic and foreign direct investment, to create new and quality jobs, and contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

To achieve this, the initiative will direct smaller-sized equity investments into angel, venture capital and seed funds, which in turn fund start-ups and early stage businesses with high growth and job creation potential in Africa.

Boost Africa’s first investment is expected to be in TLcom TIDE Africa Fund, an ICT fund investing in tech start-ups in East and West Africa. Juliana Rotich's Africa Technology Ventures, a fund investing in innovative East African start-ups, is also under appraisal.

With an initial combined investment of up to €150 million, the Initiative is expected to leverage up to €1 billion in additional investments, supporting over 1,500 start-ups and SMEs across the continent.

Africa is currently home to a boom in small businesses experimenting with innovative products, services or business models, often leveraging technology. This is the right time to support these enterprises with financial and technical resources to enable them to commercialise their innovations. Boost Africa will demonstrate to all Africans that they can and should take charge of their future. Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB President

The Boost Africa Initiative has three integrated pillars:

  • Investment: Equity investments in seed funds, business angels co-investment funds, accelerators’ follow-on funds, venture capital funds, etc. that invest in innovative start-ups and high-growth small and medium enterprises (SMEs);

  • Technical Assistance Facility: The Initiative will pool grant resources to provide capacity building and disseminate best practices for the investment readiness of intermediaries, the business and technical assistance, training of investee companies and entrepreneurs, and the creation of local investors’ networks;

  • Innovation and Information: A platform for supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem by fostering innovation, knowledge development and partnerships, and incubating and piloting promising new ideas, as well as assessing and disseminating best practices.

“Boost Africa will help Africa’s young population to gain hope and confidence that they can succeed in realising their dreams and aspirations,” said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina. “Africa’s future will be determined by the current youth and it is crucial that we create and support entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, generate success stories and show these as examples for other young people.”

Boost Africa will give a concrete push to innovation and spur financial inclusion through venture capital and impact investing. Thanks to a smart use of blended finance, the initiative ventures into new areas of support for the new generation of African entrepreneurs, and we want to give a particular focus on fragile and risky situations where financial services are not provided by the market. Stefano Manservisi, Director-General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission

Through Boost Africa, the EIB and AfDB are widening their investment scope to include projects that are usually deemed too small, too risky and too time consuming, but which are key to foster entrepreneurship and high impact innovation. Alongside financing, the initiative comes with an Innovation and Information Lab to strengthen the investment program’s investments.

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