By Tom Jackson
Innovate Ventures has partnered the Work in Progress! Alliance and VC4Africa to run the programme, which aims to support and invest in the next wave of tech startups in Somaliland and Somalia while growing the nascent startup ecosystem in the country.
The Innovate Accelerator is a 10-week programme, which includes mentorship and training provided by domain experts and entrepreneurs. The top three startups from the Innovate Accelerator will receive up to US$10,000 in investment from Innovate Ventures Fund.
Applications will be accepted online from startups based in Somaliland or Somalia and founded by entrepreneurs under the age of 35, with 12 startups to be selected for a one-week bootcamp. After the bootcamp, up to 10 startups will progress to the full 10-week accelerator programme, which will be based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. This group will receive mentoring and training on how to build a commercially viable and scalable technology business.
The startups will also receive introduction to leading companies and investors in the Somali region, with the accelerator programme culminating in a Demo Day where the startups will pitch to a room full of local and international investors and media.
“This accelerator programme represents a significant shift in how we support businesses in Somaliland and Somalia,” said Dr Abdigani Diriye, director of Innovate Ventures.
“We are amongst the first to run such a programme, and the Innovate Accelerator programme will provide an opportunity to help Somali startups find the right product-market fit and scale their start-up, thus creating job opportunities and value for investors”.
Alina Vinogradova, head of programmes and partnerships at VC4Africa, said her organisation was excited to get directly involved in an on-the-ground accelerator programme in Somaliland.
“Somali startups are largely underrepresented on the VC4A platform – with this programme we hope to identify world-class entrepreneurial talent that we can present to our global investor network,” she said.
Applications for the programme are open now until August 12, with the organisers running a roadshow in Somalia over the next three months, providing workshops and information sessions for investors and potential applicants.