Bolstering innovators in Africa

COHORT SELECTION CRITERIA Startups typically enter hub programmes for a fixed period of time and as a part of a cohort of compa- nies. While the hubs can provide support, resourc- es, advice and other services to startups of all stages, many focus on very early stage startups, e.g. those that are yet to generate any revenues. Most of the hubs, however, have minimum stage criteria for their cohorts. The majority (27%) of the respondent hubs’ minimum criteria is startups at product devel- opment, even with no revenues. This is followed by 26% whose minimum stage is at ideation and a further 19% whose minimum admission is at a stage where companies have a product and some degree of sales. 16% gauged the minimum required stage of their cohort’s startups at growth, and the remain- ing 12% have no stage criterion. In terms of selecting cohorts, hubs have traditionally had no sector preferences because they don’t necessarily have the capacity to dedicate their resources to a particular sector, but as hubs see the benefits of specialising in certain verticals, especial- ly if backed by donors or corporates focused on a specific sector, they can be more beneficial to their cohorts, honing in on areas where they have strength, and delivering higher social impact. Despite the evolution, 12% of the respondents still take a sector-agnostic approach to select their

cohorts. Of the others, 14% focus on agriculture, a sector in urgent need of innovation and increased productivity. Agriculture sits as one of the most important industries for economic growth across the continent and the one with the highest potential to reduce poverty and hunger, fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 and 2. This is due to it being the primary source of subsistence, employ- ment and livelihood for a majority of people in many countries across Africa. Beyond agriculture, 10% specifically target fintechs, and 8% focus on health- care companies. Other significant sectors of focus are hardware and internet of things (IoT), media and cleantech, based on the survey sample. In addition to stages and sectors, hubs may also target specific segments of the population to address socio-economic issues. Many hubs are targeting founders from specific demographic groups to shape the future ecosystem and allow for more inclusion and diversity. More than half (60%) of the respondent hubs claim to support female found- ers, African founders, kids and youth, and students. Other demographics the hubs support include founders among refugees and people with disabili- ties.


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