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France-Africa Summit to welcome 1000 African startups

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JANUARY 27, 2019

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Dubbed a first-class global event, the three-day France Africa-Summit will be held in Bordeaux during June this year and will, for the first time, bring some 15 000 participants together, including political and economic stakeholders to address the major challenges of the years to come.

Under the central theme of Better Cities for Better Lives, the cities of the future should not only offer essential infrastructure and services for residents, but also be safe, fit to live in and appealing, particularly for young people. In addition, as a fierce advocate for the importance of entrepreneurialism, the French Government will host 1000 specially selected startups from across Africa at the summit.

The selection mechanism used to choose the startups by the French government is “The Challenge of 1000”, which offers those selected return air tickets to Bordeaux, three days accommodation and exclusive space in the entrepreneurs’ stands at the City of Solutions. This gives them an invaluable opportunity to present their companies/projects, seek financing, partners – and showcase their innovations during the summit. To qualify, startups must meet certain criteria, these are:

 

  • You must be a bona fide African entrepreneur having an activity directly related to the following in the City of Solutions:
  1. Access to essential services (safety, resources, renewable energy, energy efficiency, risk management, vulnerable communities)
  2. Feeding the cities (urban/suburban agriculture, agribusiness, shops, restaurants)
  3. Building and enhancing the city (architecture, construction/buildings, street furniture, green areas, parks/gardens, urban art) 
  4. Moving around/visiting the city (transport infrastructure, mobility, access, sustainable tourism)
  5. Living in the city (affordable housing, healthcare, education/training, culture, sports and leisure activities) 
  6. Financing and structuring projects (connecting the city, digital innovations, tech for good, etc.)

From both a financial and support perspective, Choose Africa is evidence of France’s strong and ongoing commitment to stimulate the African entrepreneurial impetus.

The startup must also have a legal existence (legal statute), an increasing revenue and a viable product or solution that is innovative, to make French and African cities more sustainable from an environmental and social perspective. Startups can apply by Clicking HERE

The French government, having long recognised that Africa is the new frontier, launched an initiative called Choose Africa to accelerate the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and entrepreneurship on the continent. 

The initiative aims to commit more than €2.5bn (R40.88bn) to finance MSMEs and entrepreneurs by 2022. This is divided into €1.5bn in credit lines and guarantees to local financial institutions dedicated to MSME financing, or guarantees to banks to share the risk on MSME lending – and €1bn in private equity, either through direct investments in companies or indirectly, via private equity MSME-focused funds.

From both a financial and support perspective, Choose Africa is evidence of France’s strong and ongoing commitment to stimulate the African entrepreneurial impetus.

In closing, the France-Africa summit is dedicated to actors of change, focused on creating better cities for better lives. I believe that our African nations can also certainly borrow from this platform’s agenda and implement intercontinental summits (e.g. South Africa-Europe, Kenya-America, Nigeria-Asia etc.) to develop ideas and build better living/working solutions using collaborative power. But first, many of our countries will have to get their own backyards in order, in terms of economic equality, increased employment opportunity and good accountable governance.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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