African investment fund and business accelerator on Wednesday launched its partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs in Cape Town in a move to further encourage Africa’s entrepreneurial culture.
Google’s Umbono will be merged with 88mph and the space will soon be filled with even more start-ups, supported by 88mph and Google. 88mph will be managing the space and accelerator programme operations. Applications for the 88mph programme opened the evening of the launch event, with a deadline of December 15 2013.
”I am excited that Google invited us to Cape Town to expand 88mph there,” said 88mph co-founder Kresten Buch. “Cape Town has Africa’s best universities so we are hoping to see more talent apply for the Cape Town programme, along with other startups from around the world that want to target the African market.”
Wednesday’s event saw three teams selected by a panel to use the office space free of charge for three months, teams who are hoping to make it to the next level, which is acceptance on the accelerator programme which begins in February. The overall winner was Mobile Campaign Marketing, with William and Dream Mobile in the runner-up positions.
88mph is extending its network on the continent. The company already has strong foothold in Kenya, investing in startups with ideas which can be replicated across the continent and connecting innovators with mentors and co-founders. 88mph recently injected US$200,000 into eight startups in Kenya, and is now looking to do the same in Cape Town with the support of Google.
“Google provides some financial support for operations, and also provides special programmes and mentorship for the start-ups funded by 88mph,” said Johanna Kollar, Google’s Start-Up Support Lead for Emerging Markets. “88mph handles the operational aspects of the tech startup accelerator program as well as direct investment in the startups. We are excited about this partnership because together, we will be able to provide even more support for Cape Town-based start-ups.”
The goal of the partnership is to catalyse the startup community in South Africa and bring the pieces of the ecosystem together. The fund said the partnership would ‘fill the gaps’ of the nascent startup ecosystem in Africa through resources such as mentoring, legal and IP advice, and technical workshops to take the tech entrepreneurs to a more professional, business-building level.
Even prior to their Nairobi accelerator programme, 88mph invested in six startups, including entertainment news portal Ghafla.com, SMS software developing firm Tusque Systems, which won the Next Web’s Startup World Kenya and is set to pitch in Silicon Valley in early 2013, and futaa.com, a football news portal which received follow on funding for its Nigerian expansion.
Buch told HumanIPO that 88mph’s expansion would only benefit its existing startups and that there is a huge opportunity for tech in Africa to create businesses and jobs.
“With physical presence in two African countries now, we are building an even stronger network in Africa that will benefit the fifteen existing startups we have invested in and the future ones we will be adding in February in Cape Town.”
“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.”
The Cape Town partnership is the latest step for 88mph, which also plans to launch in West Africa next year. The application deadline for the Cape Town accelerator is December 15, with an early bird date of November 15 for startups who wish to get invited to a co-founder matchmaker event.