Unveiling a Groundbreaking Initiative at Davos
In a landmark announcement at the 24th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) introduced the Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund. This $1 billion initiative, aptly named 'Timbuktoo,' is designed to be a game-changer in the African startup ecosystem.
Visionaries Behind Timbuktoo
The revelation of Timbuktoo was made by key figures including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, HE Wamkele Mene (Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat), and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. This collective effort signifies a major step towards fostering innovation and entrepreneurial growth on the African continent.
A Billion-Dollar Ambition
Timbuktoo aims to be the largest financing facility that combines catalytic and commercial capital, with a primary focus on supporting African startups. President Kagame immediately pledged $3 million to kickstart the initiative. Located in Kigali, Timbuktoo has set a lofty but achievable target of mobilizing $1 billion to catalyze transformative change, impacting 100 million lives and generating 10 million new jobs.
Bridging Gaps in the Startup Ecosystem
The initiative is poised to address critical gaps in Africa's startup ecosystem, collaborating with governments, investors, corporates, and educational institutions. Timbuktoo's strategic approach encompasses a wide spectrum, from advocating startup-friendly regulations to facilitating world-class startup development.
Unleashing Africa's Youthful Innovation
Leveraging Africa's significant youth demographic and abundant innovative potential, Timbuktoo positions itself as a catalyst for comprehensive growth. With a vision to minimize investment risk, the initiative employs a unique pan-African approach, weaving together government policies, academic institutions, corporate partnerships, development allies, catalytic contributors, and commercial investors.
Overcoming Challenges in Startup Funding
While private venture capital investment in Africa is experiencing a notable surge, growing six times faster than the global average, the continent still represents a mere 0.2% of global startup value. Timbuktoo aims to shift this paradigm, recognizing the need for indigenous funding. Currently, 89% of venture capital in Africa comes from foreign sources, with Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt accounting for 83%.
Transformative Goals of Timbuktoo
The Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund sets out with a clear objective: to transform lives and job prospects. The ambitious goal is to reach 100 million lives impacted and 10 million new jobs created. By blending commercial and catalytic capital, Timbuktoo charts a course to reshape the startup landscape in Africa.
As Timbuktoo takes center stage, it signals a new era of innovation and prosperity for African startups, backed by the strategic vision of UNDP and the commitment of visionary leaders. The initiative holds the promise of unlocking unprecedented opportunities, driving economic growth, and propelling Africa to the forefront of global innovation.