Google's annual Black Founders Fund continues to make significant strides in addressing systemic racial inequality in venture capital funding. With a $4 million investment, the third edition of the fund focuses on providing equity-free grants and mentorship to early-stage, high-growth startups led by Black entrepreneurs in Africa and Europe. This year's diverse cohort of 40 startups includes 25 African startups, with an impressive 72% of them being led or co-founded by women.
The company’s commitment to diversity shines through in its selection process for the Black Founders Fund. The inclusion of 25 African startups, coupled with the significant representation of women-led startups, highlights its dedication to fostering a more inclusive startup ecosystem. In fact, last year's initiative achieved gender parity in fund distribution, emphasising Google's ongoing efforts to bridge the funding gap faced by women entrepreneurs.
The Dominance of Nigerian Startups
While Google intentionally scaled back the reach of its 2023 cohort, reducing the number of beneficiaries from 60 to 40, it remains firmly committed to supporting African startups. Nigerian startups, which dominated the previous year's cohort with 23 spots, still lead the pack in this year's selection, although with a reduced number of 10. Following closely behind are Kenyan and South African startups, represented by five and three companies respectively. The remainder of the 2023 list includes startups from Uganda, Ghana, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, and Rwanda, showcasing a vibrant mix of entrepreneurial talent from across the continent.
Google's equity-free grants, ranging from $50,000 to $100,000, will have a transformative impact on the chosen startups. While various sectors, such as food, construction, and legal services, benefit from funding, fintech, logistics, and healthcare startups dominate the list. The injection of funds enables these businesses to expand into new markets, create employment opportunities, and drive Africa's digital transformation.
In addition to the financial grants, each selected startup will receive valuable support from Google. This includes non-dilutive cash awards of up to $150,000, Google Cloud credits worth up to $200,000, advertising support, mentorship from industry experts, and access to Google's extensive network. This comprehensive assistance ensures that the chosen entrepreneurs receive the resources and guidance needed to thrive in their respective industries.
Folarin Aiyegbusi, Head of Startups Ecosystem, Africa at Google said, “Startups play a major role in advancing Africa’s digital transformation. We look forward to working with this group of innovative founders who are using technology to solve some of the most pressing challenges in Africa. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund is committed to addressing the stark inequality in VC funding by providing Black founders with the resources and support they need to succeed.”
Meet the Black Founders Fund 2023 cohort
- Akoma Health (Nigeria): Tech platform for accessible, culturally conscious mental health services in Africa.
- BezoMoney (Ghana): Digital banking for Africa’s underbanked via mobile/web platforms.
- Chargel (Senegal): Digital trucking platform connecting shippers/carriers in Francophone West Africa.
- Charis UAS (Rwanda): Provides 3D geospatial data via drone technology.
- Evolve Credit (Nigeria): SaaS for digitising and managing banking services.
- Excel At Uni (South Africa): Supports student funders via digital services.
- EzyAgric (Uganda): AI-powered mobile technology to enhance Africa’s farming sector.
- Fez Delivery (Nigeria): Last-mile logistics platform for various industries.
- Fleetsimplify (Kenya): Monetization platform connecting gig drivers & vehicle owners.
- HealthDart (South Africa): Digital HMO providing end-to-end health services with insurance.
- Herconomy (Nigeria): Female-focused fintech aiming to be Africa’s first women’s bank.
- Jumba (Kenya): Improving Kenya’s construction sector supply chain via B2B platform.
- MDaaS Global (Nigeria): Tech-powered diagnostic centres for affordable healthcare.
- My Pocket Counsel (Nigeria): Legal tech platform for contract generation and management.
- Orda (Nigeria): Pan-African neobank for restaurants, offering cloud-based software.
- Periculum (Nigeria): Data company aiding in credit assessment, fraud/churn risk.
- Raenest (Nigeria): Fintech offers global financial services to freelancers/startups in Africa.
- Ridelink (Uganda): E-logistics platform providing shipping and real-time tracking.
- Susu (Côte d’Ivoire): Health platform providing healthcare services/insurance funded by the African diaspora.
- Talamus Health (Ghana): Tech solutions targeting healthcare inefficiencies in Africa.
- TruQ (Nigeria): Streamlining mid-mile logistics across Africa with third-party vehicle connectivity.
- Tushop (Kenya): Tech platform for group buying of daily essentials in Kenya.
- Uzapoint (Kenya): Mobile/web POS for digitising bookkeeping in Africa’s informal sector.
- Zinacare (South Africa): Online platform for accessible, affordable healthcare services.
- Zydii (Kenya): Localised digital training solutions for African SMEs.