Acceleration of 36 companies selected for the 2018 GrowthAfrica program kicks off


GrowthAfrica, a business and impact accelerator, has commenced the 2018 acceleration programmes in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Zambia. Comprised of 36, the cohort has companies from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Zambia. GrowthAfrica is yet to open up in West Africa.

60% of these companies selected for the program Female-founded. While the Technology companies led with 25% followed by the financial and tourism at a tie of 20%. The others were Agribusiness and Manufacturing/processing (10%), Education, Retail and Entertainment (5%).

Though, GALI, Global Accelerator Learning Initiative, released a report [PDF] this February. Some of its findings raise questions on the selection criteria. According to the report, “accepted and rejected ventures reported fairly similar track-records (except that accepted ventures were significantly more likely to report philanthropy).”

This implies two things; Either there’s a need for more accelerators to accommodate the growing number of ventures, or the quality of ventures is not good enough. Hence programs settle with those with a more social impact appeal.

This could be because most accelerator programs in the region have a backing of impact-focused investors. GrowthAfrica has Ford Foundation, Argidius, Hivos and ANDE as some of its partners.

But, GrowthAfrica says that “the objective of the programme is to scale ventures, make them investment ready and to develop entrepreneurial leadership”.

Founded in 2002, GrowthAfrica is fast turning into one of the most sought-after post-revenue programs in the East African region.

“Since 2012, GrowthAfrica has graduated more than 280 entrepreneurs, from 12 acceleration programmes, enabling them to scale their impact and increase their revenue across and beyond Africa,” said Patricia Jumi, the Managing Director and Co-Founder of GrowthAfrica.

“Post revenue businesses are exciting for us to work with as they are the engine of growth in Africa,” added Johnni Kjelsgaard, Founder and CEO, GrowthAfrica. “We work very closely with them to identify gaps that are preventing them from growing at the scale that they should.”

On its website, GrowthAfrica lists Uganda’s RoundBob, ClinicMaster and Intel World [] as some of its notable alumni from Uganda.

This year, it the following companies from Uganda will join the program; Jumpstart Africa, Superchillo, Fundibots, Kijani, KweNu, Krystal Ice, Agrodynamics, Rabboni and Krinis. While the following will join from Kenya; Hoji, Peperuka, KopaCent, Mainstream Bookshop, Bluewave, Urban Coffee, I Like Local, Vivid Gold, Gambino and FreshBox

“We are excited to welcome the 36 ventures, and as we start the 2018 acceleration programmes, we shall work with these ventures to address gaps, doubling their revenues and tripling their profits,” Johnni said.

The program attracts an average of 12 companies per cohort per country. So far, GrowthAfrica boasts over 25,000 jobs created by its portfolio companies.

Cherubet Foods, one of the portfolio companies was “able to develop and are currently implementing a sales strategy to grow sales by 300%.” While as Keyara “[improved] their product focus as a result.”

The GALI report points out that most companies in sub-Saharan Africa apply to accelerator programs for funding.

“Over 25% of ventures rank direct funding as the most important, followed by network and skill-building,” the report says. At 27%, direct funding ranks higher for African entrepreneurs compared to a global 22%. “Compared to the global sample, African entrepreneurs are more interested in gaining direct funding and business skills,” the report adds.

And to date, “startups that have participated in GrowthAfrica’s programmes have raised more than $44million in investments, loans and grants.”