NTF V #FastTrackTech lays out growth path for African tech startups
NTF V assessed 27 tech startups in Ethiopia and 26 in Ghana with the #FastTrackTech online diagnostic tool, working with investors to advise on how the companies can grow
When Samrawit Tarekegn decided to start a business, she had already achieved a lot in life. She’d left her childhood home in Bahir Dar to study engineering and obtained a master’s degree. But living in Addis Ababa, she saw an untapped opportunity to create an Uber for childcare in Ethiopia that would match families to nannies.
What the 29-year-old did not have was experience in building a tech start-up. So, she put her business -- Mogzit in-home Care -- through an incubator. That helped, but as she got busy with running her company, she realized that some of her founding ideas were getting lost along the way.
“Before we started the company, we made this document with our value proposition and the business plan,” she said. “After we launched the company, we moved on and somehow that just got lost in the process.”
ITC offers start-ups a variety of services to further their business interests, including a diagnostic tool that provides rich insights. In March, Tarekegn completed the #FastTrackTech 360Diagnostics Startup Maturity assessment with NTF V Ethiopia team. The project brought together 27 tech start-ups, including seven women, for the assessment in Ethiopia.
“Completing the assessment gave me the chance to pause a moment and see what I had written before about the company’s vision, its mission, the value proposition and our traction so far,” she said. “That then showed what we have to do in the near future and in the long run.”
When companies go through the assessment, they receive insights on their financial management, business model, go-to-market strategy and other topics. They examine obstacles to their goals and receive a report that compares their business against best practices, and allows them to find both their gaps and advantages.
In her case, the assessment helped her realize that her business was not aiming at a mass market. That insight allowed her to focus on her market segment: People with smartphones and internet access.
Another 26 start-ups completed the assessment in Ghana, including companies that joined the project at different points in their development. Nana Opoku W.O. Agyeman-Prempeh founded Grow for Me in Ghana. He describes his business as crowdfunding and crowd farming, using technology to connect small farmers to financing and markets.
When he went through the #FastTrackTech 360Diagnostic assessment, he found that his company already had many of the documents and systems in place.
“We had an investor-ready checklist,” he said. “The diagnostic reinforced that we need to make sure that we continue to improve those systems, and to make sure we continue to improve what we are doing.”
“We realized a need to keep up those cultural documents,” he added.
The digital tool is available in English and French. The sessions in Ethiopia and Ghana included a one-hour in-person assessment that brought together each company’s founder, the NTF V tech team, and an experienced investor who advised the founder on how to better position each start-up.
In Ethiopia, the international investor was Tamim El Zein from Africa SeedStars Ventures, a fund focused on emerging and frontier markets. In Ghana, the startups met with Andrews Akoto-Addo, an investment associate from Ghana Tech Lab.
One of the insights that Agyeman-Prempeh left with was that Grow for Me could scale its work.
“I realized that we can actually scale the process and the methods once they’re structured,” he said. “We need to make sure everyone is very familiar with these processes and that we’re constantly reviewing them.”
For newcomers like Tarekegn, the diagnostic assessment built her confidence in getting her business off the ground.
“It's transforming people who don't have business knowledge into businesswomen, starting from scratch,” she said. “The assessment process helped me to understand everything new – understand the words and the terminology in this whole startup ecosystem. And it just helped me to understand it so fast.”
After the assessments, the NTF V Tech team analyzed the outcomes to choose which start-ups would benefit most from the programme. This gives the team insight on where each tech startup is currently at and where they need support most.
About the project
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) (July 2021 – June 2025) project is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and drive the internationalization of tech start-ups and export of IT&BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.