Google kicks off Launchpad Accelerator Africa class in Lagos, announces scholarships to developers

Google is also partnering with Udacity and Andela to provide 15,000 single course scholarships and 500 nanodegree scholarships to aspiring developers in Africa

The announcement was made at an event held in Lagos on Monday, March 19th, 2018 with selections from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme will provide African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa as participants will also receive travel and PR support during each three-month program over the next three years.

It also announced a partnership with Udacity and Andela to provide 15,000 single course scholarships and 500 nanodegree scholarships to aspiring and professional developers across Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Juliet Ehimuan, Country Director, Google Nigeria in her open remarks said: “Launchpad Accelerator Africa was announced at Google for Nigeria in July last year. At the time we also announced the extension of our Digital Skills for Africa program to train 10 million Africans, including 100,000 developers, over five years. The scholarships announced today form part of that commitment.”

Andy Volk, Google's Sub-Saharan Africa Ecosystem Regional Manager said: “We are thrilled to announce this, the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class and look forward to working with them to drive innovation into the African market. Africa is home to some incredibly smart people who are working to solve the continent’s problems using homegrown solutions and we’re honoured to be able to be part of that.”

In a chat with Business Insider, Sub Sahara Africa, Joel Macharia, the Chief Technology Officer of Pezesha, a Kenyan scalable peer to peer microlending marketplace, said the programme will help assist its products in terms of reach and experience in the Kenya market.

Macharia, who applauded Google for its programme said the Startup hopes to expand to other African countries by providing a platform for the partnership to excel.

In the same vien, Okechukwu Ofili, co-founder of Okada Books told Business Insider Sub Sahara Africa that he was very excited when Google announced their startup for the Accelerator programme after missing out of the Global accelerator programme in 2017.

"Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme will provide a viable platform for mentorship and training as well as the technological idea for us."

It will help us to know much better and provides us with an opportunity to have a user-engagement platform, “Ofili concluded

Here is the list of the selected startups for the first Launchpad Accelerator Africa class:

Babymigo - Nigeria - a trusted social community for expecting mothers and young parents.

Flexpay - Kenya - an automated and secured layaway e-commerce system.

Kudi - Nigeria - payment for Africa through messaging.

OkadaBooks - Nigeria - a social platform that allows users easily create, spread and sell their stories/books/documents in a matter of minutes.

OMG Digital - Ghana - a media platform that produces hyper-local, engaging and entertaining content African millennials love to consume and share.

Pezesha - Kenya - a scalable Peer to Peer microlending marketplace that allows Kenyans to loan to Kenyans, securely, via mobile money using big data and credit analytics.

Piggybank.ng - Nigeria - allows Africans put aside little amounts of money periodically till they reach a savings target.

Riby - Nigeria - a peer-to-peer banking platform for cooperatives and their members that allows them to save, borrow and invest, together.

swiftVEE - South Africa - a platform for connecting livestock agencies to a network of buyers and sellers.

TangoTv - Tanzania - a media streaming and video on demand service for African local content; films and shows.

Teheca - Uganda - helps families and individuals find the right health care providers/workers in Uganda.

Thrive Agric - Nigeria - crowdfunds investments for smallholder farmers, and provide this to them in form of inputs, tech-driven advisory and access to the market.

Google said it is committed to the Sub-Saharan Africa developer ecosystem and has, since April 2016, hosted 13 Launchpad Build and Start events across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, featuring some 228 speakers and engaging 590 attendees from local startups in each country.

It also runs programs such as Google Developer Groups and Women Techmakers, providing training and support for developers aligned with real-life job competency requirements. Community groups engage in activities like Study Jams - study groups for developers. There are some 140 communities across 25 countries in SSA. Some 61 of these groups hosted 81 Study Jams in 10 countries reaching over 5 000 developers in the last year.

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