In Africa, as in all developing countries, the private sector is the main driver of economic growth. In this context, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are an essential component of job and wealth creation, which improves the quality of life of people.
However, the development of the private sector comes up against a number of constraints. Faced with these structural difficulties, incubators in Sub-Saharan Africa are struggling to build sustainable innovative companies and they all experience difficulties in accessing financing.
AFD is supporting the Afric’innov program. This initiative organizes, professionalizes and networks some fifty incubators, accelerators and hubs that support innovative projects in various West African countries. It gives them tools to support the development of innovative start-ups working in or with Africa.
An online platform, Africinnov.com, and a fund available for unsecured interest-free loans, without the need for a guarantee, complete the range of tools of this program. This financing product assists new start-ups in the development phase within the support structures that are members of Afric’innov.
What makes this program original is its collective and network approach. In practical terms, it involves testing the effectiveness and impact of tools and services with a few incubators and subsequently offering them to a wider range of partners.
The main objectives of Afric’innov are to build a network of incubators in West Africa and create jobs in the target countries by developing innovative start-ups. In three years, this program has brought together over 50 innovative entrepreneurship support structures (SAEI) based in some twenty African countries within the Afric’innov community. These SAEI offer training courses and over 120 professionals have been trained in these networks.
Building on the success of this pilot project, AFD is financing the scale-up of the program via a €2 million grant for 2019-2022. This second component of Afric’innov aims to step up training for SAEI professionals, deploy the SAEI appraisal and identification label and establish the dynamics of the Afric'innov program at local level by implementing it in Dakar.
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