Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the launch of EUR65 million ($76.14 million) funding for African startups. This fund is part of a broader ‘Digital African’ initiative.
President Macron made the announcement while attending the VivaTech conference in Paris, France. During his speech, Macron pointed out that there is an increasing unity across the African continent, which makes a conducive environment for the provision of a comprehensive strategy geared towards supporting budding digital startups on the continent.
He went further to point out that there is no longer division between the Francophone and Anglophone African countries. Therefore, any development project for the continent ought to be comprehensive, and no rolled out in accordance to any division that might still be there.
The President launched the Digital Africa initiative on behalf of France’s development agency Agence Francaise de Development (AFD). The agency aims at providing a conducive platform for African entrepreneurs to scale up and achieve their highest potential. The agency tries to do so by encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing, giving startups an online database of resources, providing access to funding, and hosting events.
“I call on all African entrepreneurs, from all the countries on the continent, to join this Digital Africa initiative, and to join the platform,” said President Macron.
Macron reiterated that France is looking to finance the most promising startups out of Africa, with the goal of further developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem on the continent. He reckons that while startups across Africa have the “energy” to innovate quickly, the major funders (including France) have not been quick to answer the call for financial support by entrepreneurs in the grassroots.
“We’re too slow, too hesitating,” said Macron.
Hence, the AFD is working on creating new funding models that will adequately support African entrepreneurs.
“In the next few weeks, a specific instrument will be launched; provided with EUR65 million ($76.14 million) to launch the initiative; to fill the gap in small tickets which are needed by these startups; ranging between EUR30,000 ($35,000), and EUR50,000 ($58,600) with [the startups] to be selected via the Digital Africa platform,” said President Macron.