Catalyzing Change through Community Strength
For more than a decade, AfriLabs has been a pivotal force in nurturing a dynamic tech ecosystem throughout the African continent. This organization has successfully harnessed the power of community networks, driving innovation and technological advancements across Africa.
The Annual AfriLabs Gathering: A Confluence of Innovation
The cornerstone of AfriLabs' commitment to uniting the African tech community is the annual AfriLabs Gathering. Held in Kigali, Rwanda, this event attracts over 400 innovation hubs, creating a melting pot for young innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups spanning various sectors.
The October gathering aimed to fortify the tech ecosystem, leveraging innovation and digital technologies to foster sustainable businesses, job creation, and economic development. According to executive director Anna Ekeledo, Africa's Digital Economy is poised to reach an astounding $712 billion by 2050, as predicted by McKinsey and Company.
Ekeledo emphasizes, "Our youthful and dynamic population is eager to seize the power of technology and innovation to overcome challenges and create opportunities in Africa."
The event marked significant partnerships, notably with Algeria Venture, focusing on exploring cooperation opportunities and supporting the management, funding, and promotion of startups across Africa. AfriLabs also joined forces with Builder.ai, aiming to provide technical support for African entrepreneurs, bridging the gap for those with innovative solutions but lacking resources and technical know-how.
From Inception to Impact: AfriLabs' Evolution
AfriLabs embarked on its journey in 2011 with just five members across four African countries. Today, it proudly boasts 435 members spanning all 54 African nations. The organization's multifaceted approach includes capacity building, policy advocacy, networking, innovative financing models, and a strong emphasis on gender inclusion.
With a visionary woman at its helm, AfriLabs confronts the gender gap in the tech industry, recognizing the male-dominated landscape of the African tech sector. The organization is committed to scaling initiatives like AfriLabs Connect and RevUp Women, a partnership with the Visa Foundation, aiming to empower 50,000 women-led enterprises across Africa through training, mentoring, and capacity-building.
Innovative Financing for Sustainable Growth
AfriLabs introduced the Catalytic Africa Programme, an innovative financing model developed in collaboration with the African Business Angel Network three years ago. This program secures funds from various partners, contributing to a central pool that serves as a matching or co-investment fund, incentivizing investment in viable AfriLabs-affiliated startups.
According to Ekeledo, "We connect innovators within our network to investors, match the fund when an investment is made, and provide follow-on support. We're building a holistic ecosystem that creates prosperity and wealth for all involved."
Beyond Networking: Influencing Policy Changes
AfriLabs' impact extends beyond networking; it has played a pivotal role in influencing policy changes and creating a supportive environment for startups. The organization's involvement in the Nigeria Startup Act and the ongoing Nigeria Startup Act State Adoption program showcases its commitment to driving conversations and effecting change.
Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, a managing partner at DigitA, acknowledges AfriLabs' profound impact. He emphasizes, "They support the supporters. They provide an essential backbone to the hubs that offer a platform to the entrepreneurs."
AfriLabs stands as a beacon of change, fostering a thriving tech ecosystem, empowering women, influencing policies, and shaping the future of innovation across the African continent.