Start up Nation: Africa’s Hubs, Incubators & Accelerators

Believe it or not, business incubators and accelerators are not a new phenomenon and have been around for a while (think 1950’s). However, the continent has seen a sudden surge in entrepreneurial activity; what was borne of necessity has now become a norm, as many continue to engage in innovative pursuits. Incubators and accelerators are a great platform for young, fledgling companies to get their ideas off the ground. While incubators are geared towards helping startups succeed with no specific time frame, accelerators provide the structure necessary to rapidly grow a company and position it to raise financing.

As start up hubs continue to emerge on the continent, it is impossible to list them all, but we can say we gave it a fair shot.  If all else fails, you will have a list to refer to if you are thinking of applying to an incubator or accelerator!

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Cameroon

Activspaces
Activspaces offers locations in Buea and Douala to techpreneurs who are actively working on startups. Targeting web &mobile programmers, designers, entrepreneurs and researchers, Activspaces aims to make a mark in the technology space by encouraging Africa tech innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among youth and women. The program also invests in a rigorous six-month accelerator program.

Follow them on twitter @Activspaces

Ghana

MEST Incubator
Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) began hosting startups in 2010 through its MEST Incubator; the program provides seed funding, office space and hands-on support for graduates of MEST who have a desire to start up their own technology companies in Ghana. The program typically invests U$50,000 to US$200,000 for a minority equity interest in each business, and offers an on-site staff of business advisors and cross-functional experts who work with portfolio companies. The MEST incubator has invested in over twenty startups to date, including Dropifi.

Follow them on twitter @MESTghana

Kenya

iHub
Currently Nairobi’s epicenter of the rapidly growing tech scene, it is certainly a place to be and be seen as it draws a crowd of innovative technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers. As part of Ushahidi’ s strategic vision to train and develop next generation tech experts, the iHub has grown to over three thousand developers, designers and entrepreneurs with strong connections that cut across all sectors. Presiding as advisors are Juliana Rotich and Erik Hersman, two powerhouses recognized globally for their work in the field of technology.

Follow them on twitter @iHUB

Mali

JokkoLabs
Francophone Africa was bound to be disrupted with the launch of JokkoLabs in October 2010, a collaborative action tank and hub focused on addressing unmet social needs. Entrepreneurs are inspired by the community culture and come from all sectors, with a goal of generating a greener and more inclusive growth.

Follow them on twitter @jokkolabs

Small Startup Business

Nigeria

Co-Creation Hub
A self-described innovative ecosystem, Nigeria’s CcHUB does more than just looking out for the latest and greatest in apps or devices. It truly helps to foster creative thinking and collaboration around novel tech ideas that provide possible solutions to many of the country’s social problems. Some promising brands in their portfolio include Wecyclers, Jobs in Nigeria and Truppr.

Follow them on twitter @Cc_HUB

Wennovation Hub
Wennovation can be safely described as a mix between an incubator and an accelerator, given that it provides both short and long term impact programs for startups and entrepreneurs. The wennovation model builds on a hybrid organizational structure using non-profit and for-profit techniques that move companies to funding. It provides access to support staff, business consultants, mentors and funding to all its members whom are selected through an application process

Follow them on twitter @wennovation

The Passion Incubator
With a location set up in Yaba, Lagos, the Passion Incubator sets the tone for startup success through their accelerator class, which selects five finalist founder teams into the Passion incubator accelerator class. Teams are hosted for a three month period, where they receive support in developing a minimum viable product. They will also have the opportunity to pitch their businesses to potential investors and subsequently drive market traction across their various products.

Follow them on twitter @P_Incubator

Rwanda

Think Incubator
Founded in March 2014, this tech incubator, a service provided by Millicom, was designed to develop new digital solutions for the continent. The incubator invited its first companies to join the fun in October 2014 for six months, and work with several partners including The Office, AEC Rwanda and Inkomoko. Startups are provided an initial investment of US$15,000.

Follow them on twitter @thinkrwanda

The Rwanda Media Hub
The Rwanda Media Hub snags first place as the premier incubator for digital media and media production enterprises in East Africa. Launched in April 2014, the incubator provides between US$ 10,000 and US$20,000 to up to twenty-five promising Rwandan enterprises.

Follow them on twitter @rwandamediahub

Startup

South Africa

JoziHub
Situated in the Milpark area of Johannesburg, JoziHub seeks to provide a shared work and collaboration space for emerging entrepreneurs and innovators who want to bounce ideas around, share resources and gain access to mentors as they build their startups. And while it is open access, potential members will have to apply for a spot and pitch their projects and ideas to a select panel for final membership approval.

Follow them on twitter @JoziHub

Seda Construction Incubator
What makes this incubator unique is that it focuses specifically on the provision of business support services to small businesses in the construction industry [and yes, constructpreneurs need business advice too!]. By providing access to a range of services from financial management to medium-long term strategic planning, businesses will be able to move beyond the startup phase to viable thriving businesses that are engaged in the local economy. Founded by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the vision of the Incubator is to be a one-stop resource center for contractors, particularly those in Durban.

ALN Ventures
The brain child of the African Leadership Network, the pan-African accelerator meets a growing need for directed study and mentorship for potential and emerging entrepreneurs across the continent. The program’s inaugural class commences in January 2015, and seeks to support companies with at least one full-time founder, have been in operation for less than two years, and have received less than US$250,000 in outside funding. Venture fellows will benefit from the nine month program as they build their startups.

Follow them on twitter @Prosper4Africa

88mph
88mph sets up shop in Johannesburg, and focuses on startups with a mobile product or service targeting African markets. Potential startups will spend 3 months with 88mph at the relevant Startup Garages [office spaces] based in Nairobi, Cape Town or Lagos. Startups receive seed capital, access to social networks and mentorship. Over thirty companies have received funding to date, among them Zapacab, Yum, and Mdundo.

Follow them on twitter @88mph_Africa

I CRE8 South Africa
Founded in 2014, I Cre8 SA is an initiative of YouthLab that will focus on young innovative South Africans by providing supportive spaces, which will allow them to test innovative ideas they already have, while gaining the skills that will help them with future ideas. Not a bad way to build entrepreneurial skills.

Follow them on twitter @YouthLabZA

Uganda

Hive Colab
Hive Colab is an open space that was created to leverage growing ideas and innovations and move them into realization. It brings together, technpreneurs, web & mobile app developers, designers, venture capitalists and other investors to collaborate on projects and promising ideas.

Follow them on twitter @hivecolab

Zambia

BongoHive
Three words – innovation, creativity and sustainability. These describe the core of who this technology hub is and what it seeks to achieve. Located in Lusaka, membership is free, but individuals and teams are held to their projects through its life cycle.

Follow them on twitter @BongoHive