Launching XL Africa, a program to position top digital scale-ups for global growth

In partnership with The World Bank Group, VC4A is pleased to announce the launch of XL Africa, a five-month post-acceleration program designed to support the 20 most promising digital ‘scale-ups’ from across Africa.

Selected entrepreneurs will receive mentoring from global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors. With support from prominent African investment groups, XL Africa helps the 20-selected companies position for growth and connects them with early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million.

The aim of XL Africa is to realize the growth potential of Africa’s top ventures, to take 20 digital scale-ups and to position them for international expansion.

Next step for the ecosystem

This is the next step for the ecosystem, where the seed stage market continues to make considerable progress, but where more emphasis needs to be placed on downstream funding. Enormous efforts have been made and considerable investments have gone into building that frontline infrastructure. Increasingly, entrepreneurs with good ideas can find support through the many innovations hubs, incubators and accelerators, and where starting teams have direct access to the growing collection of startup events, demo days and launch pads. Any serious team is arguably now able to find that first funding needed to get started.

Growing investor interest

Certainly, the recent investor sessions organized in Johannesburg, South Africa, is an example of the growing investor interest coming up across the continent, and where more than 40 angel networks now formalize across the continent. But the future of Africa’s startup community will struggle to realize its potential if more isn’t done to develop the Series A market, and where XL Africa is the next step in this journey.

Key for this program, is the emphasis on teams that have already proven there is a market demand. We are not looking for single founders but quality teams that have the expertise and experience needed to implement successfully in these markets. The ventures we are looking for, many from the ranks of VC4A, have developed a sophisticated product or service, have found a product-market fit resulting in tangible business traction and are posting clear revenue growth. In many cases, they have already secured funding, and where having a lead investor can give them a significant advantage when ramping up their fundraising efforts.

Digital solutions

We support enterprises in any sector that are making smart use of digital solutions. This includes, but is not limited to fintech, agriculture, transport, energy, health, education, smart cities, gaming resource management, media and many more.

Reasons to join XL Africa

XL Africa partners
There are a few reasons why XL Africa is a viable option for teams that have these characteristics:

– There are more than 80 business experts that can provide bespoke advice as needed. Whether the venture is looking to structure a partnership with a corporate, is looking to protect its intellectual property or needs help navigating a merger, the program has the expertise on hand;

– The program leverages learning materials being offered via our partners at Koltai&Co. Don Gooding and Steven Koltai have decades of experience structuring investments and can offer an unparalleled perspective. At the same time, companies have access to the VC4A curriculum;

– We have established a strategic partnership with AfricaCom to facilitate direct matchmaking between the XL Africa companies and extensive network of corporates active across the continent. This program offers a direct platform to not only meet corporate players, but to structure workable partnerships and collaborations that are key to growth and expansion;

– VC4A has reached out to investors in our network who are central to the XL Africa program, and are engaging the companies directly. This includes partnerships with the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell Investments, Knife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network (SABAN), TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital;

– XL Africa includes an all-expenses paid trip to Cape Town, South Africa, for a 2-week intensive residency program. This includes free entry to the 4th Annual Africa Investor Summit where a global network of Africa-focused investors come together for a 3-day event. XL Africa companies receive spotlight at the Venture Showcase, in addition to 1-1 matching, while gaining ample opportunities for networking.

Drivers for growth

The program is being offered free of charge to entrepreneurs. There is no fee or equity stake to participate. This is because The World Bank and unique set of partners have come together to make this program possible, and where the main objective for XL Africa is to see more African companies realize their full potential. The aim is to better understand the drivers for growth, how to structure for expansion, and to mobilize the network and resources required to build a thriving Series A market for African opportunities.

Interested companies can apply online on the XL Africa website by Monday, June 12, 2017.

XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A, and Koltai & Co.

XL Africa partners