Kenyan accelerator 88mph puts its foot on the gas with Google for pan-African expansion

Kenyan accelerator 88mph puts its foot on the gas with Google for pan-African expansion

Great Scott! Kenyan accelerator 88mph has signed a partnership with Google for Africa. The company says that it hopes to work with the tech giant to ‘fill the gaps of the nascent startup ecosystem’ on the continent.

The Nairobi-based accelerator plans to provide extra operational and knowledge resources for tech entrepreneurs. This includes all the fine things you would expect from a good incubator, including mentoring, legal and IP advice, as well as technical workshops for pushing startups to the next level of business.

The partnership brings support to 88mph’s accelerator program and tech hub in Nairobi and will help expansion via a launch in Cape Town, South Africa, later this year.

A roadmap is also in place to set up operations in West Africa by 2013. All of which will start to create a pan-African footprint that will provide a very broad continental network and support system.

As part of the move, Johanna Kollar, from Google’s Startup Support Programs and Ezequiel Vidra, Head of Campus London will join the 88mph advisory board.

The deal also provides for an ‘entrepreneur-in-residence’ program, which aims to bring in 4-6 experienced tech entrepreneurs from around the world to work full-time side by side with the startups chosen to join the program.

“We aren’t simply copying the Y-Combinator model as we don’t believe it is appropriate in an emerging market context. With Google’s support, we are able to provide the extra resources necessary to compensate for a less developed angel and mentor network, which characterizes an emerging market”, says Nikolai Barnwell, 88mph Program Manager in Nairobi.

88mph is already open to applications for its latest round at the accelerator. Up to $24k per startup will be available to successful applicants. Be quick though, the deadline to apply is August 15.

Africa is a lively business opportunity which appeals to many entrepreneurs who are not from the continent itself. The barriers to entry are lower as there is a large English-speaking population and 40% are under 25 years old.

“There is a huge opportunity for tech people to come here and create businesses, jobs, and make money in Africa. In fact, we would love to see Africans returning to Africa by giving them a landing pad for building their own startups; they can also help boost the local startup talent pool,” says founder of 88mph Kresten Buch.

The team behind 88mph has previously hosted two investment events in Kenya. Set up as 48-hour investment bootcamps, the first event resulted in an investment in MFarm. The second event, in August 2011, saw 88mph invest in three additional startups.

Since it was founded, 88mph has invested in a total of 7 startups, all of which target the African mobile Web markets. The accelerator is a privately-backed fund.

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