The Jambar Tech Lab, a business acceleration program to support West and Central African tech start-ups commercialize and scale innovative digital products was recently launched in Dakar, Senegal.
The program by the World Bank Group and CTIC Dakar, will connect 40 local high-growth start-ups with the knowledge, capital and market access required to grow.
“The digital economy plays a key role in many African countries, as part of the broader services sector that drives more than half of the economic growth in the continent,” said Ganesh Rasagam, Manager, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice (GSMA).
The GSMA estimates that in 2015, mobile technologies and services in Africa supported about 3.8 million jobs and generated about $150 billion of economic value; numbers that are expected to rise to 4.5 million and $210 billion by 2020.
Despite this growing market potential, many digital entrepreneurs across the region still lack the necessary skills and resources to accelerate the development of their businesses, either by entering larger markets or attracting capital from early-stage investors.
To mitigate this, Jambar Tech Lab will offer a six-month program designed to improve the capacity of local firms to identify market opportunities, develop and test products and services and access business mentors and appropriate financing.
The curriculum will cover key topics such as investment readiness and investor engagement, Diaspora networks and internationalization of digital enterprises.
It will also seek to create the capacity and networks necessary to scale high-potential ventures into profitable businesses.
It is also expected to improve competitiveness and create jobs.
The Jambar Tech Lab is supported by the governments of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Senegal. It will be implemented by CTIC Dakar, Senegal and Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa’s first ICT incubator.
Established in 2011 through a joint World Bank and IFC grant, CTIC Dakar has trained more than 2000 entrepreneurs and supported over 80 companies with a cumulative revenue turnover of $6 million and 41 per cent annual revenue growth.
Similar acceleration programs in eastern and southern Africa are planned in the coming months.
In early 2017, the World Bank Group will also launch the Pan-African Acceleration Program, and select 20 star performers from across the continent to receive additional coaching, mentorship, and exposure to global investors and funds.