The four players to watch are Nailab, Savanna Fund, Growth Hub and 88mph – all of which have sprung up within the last few years. NaiLab offers an accelerator for early-stage startups, which lasts from three to 12 months. The aim is to nurture innovation within the tech industry by offering bespoke business coaching and support for successful applicants. The template for the entrepreneurship programme seems not unlike schemes currently running closer to home, such as Berlin’s Startup Academy.
Startup Partners Africa, a new Berlin-based incubator, has set its business sonar solely to Africa. The incubator’s CEO Leonard Stiegeler, a Rocket alumnus, was a former co-founder of the online fashion retail store Sabunta before it merged with Kasuwa and rebranded itself as Rocket Internet’s Jumia in Nigeria.
Stiegeler and his new incubating outfit Startup Partners Africa are the brains behind the new retailer Sunglasses, which launched in Nigeria less than three months before the incubator got off the ground. “We tested and concept-proofed two models in the African market, the first of which was fashion and beauty and the second was sunglasses,” Stiegler says, with impressively precocial drive. “We are now looking at other models and other markets, specifically Kenya now.”
Kenya is one of the African leaders in this field with incubators and seed funds salivating at the country’s high mobile penetration rate (around 74 for every 100 people). In addition, mobile subscriptions in Kenya grew 16 per cent between 2011 and 2012, with 99 per cent of internet subscriptions being on the mobile.