Fast Tracking Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa - Phase 1

    Overview

    Summary

    The International Trade Centre’s #FastTrackTech project is harnessing the transformative power of the digital economy to generate jobs and contribute to the economic growth and productivity in seven African countries. 

    ITC is working with tech startups and digital entrepreneurs in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia, equipping them with digital and managerial skills as they establish their businesses, grow, and export their services.

    Digital entrepreneurs across the continent are accelerating the digital transformation of Africa, a key driver to strengthening economies and implementing Sustainable Development Goals such as quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth. Successful digital entrepreneurship also benefits young innovators and helps close the digital gender gap.

    #FastTrackTech works with local tech hubs to build tech start-ups’ capacity to scale their business and equip aspiring entrepreneurs with digital skills. The project started in 2019 and is expected to continue in 2022-2023 with a stronger emphasis on policy change, digitalization of traditional sectors, ecosystem coordination, and an increased focus on high-potential startups.


    Partners

    Sustainable Development Goals

    This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals, as defined by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Context

    Powering digital change in Sub Saharan Africa 

    Digital entrepreneurship is accelerating Africa’s digital transformation, and ITC through its #FastTrackTech project is at the forefront of the change. Our work with tech start-ups and digital markets is changing lives. 

    Farmers in Cote d’Ivoire are prospering after a FastTrackTech-supported business developed a mobile platform linking farmers to customers. Students in Rwanda were able to continue classes online and develop more digital literacy skills when schools were forced to close during the pandemic.  

    We have been working in Benin, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia since October 2019, and our project has been extended to 2023 continuing in Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. We provide online and onsite training, advice and coaching centred on building up digital and business skills, to fast track the internationalization of selected tech start-ups and tech ecosystems. 

    Africa’s growing digital economy offers opportunities to generate jobs and contribute to economic growth and productivity. Digital entrepreneurship can help close the growing digital gender gap, favours younger generations, and can be key to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. 

    Helping Africa’s tech sector go international 

    There are still challenges preventing the tech sector from contributing to its full potential, such as regulations, business support, technical and business skills, and linking to international markets. FastTrackTech Africa is solving these challenges by:  

    • working with policymakers to foster business-friendly entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

    • supporting next-generation trade support institutions, in particular tech hubs and business support organisations. 

    • building up the business and technical skills of tech start-ups and digital entrepreneurs and connecting them to market partners and investors. 

    • helping innovators develop their products and define their value proposition, and providing customised support to growth-stage start-ups. 

    • supporting start-ups to attend pitching events and major tech trade fairs and facilitate introductions to partner venture capital firms. 

    ITC Tools

    A bilingual digital tool developed by ITC that helps assess different areas of a start-up, such as financial management, communication, and strategic vision. The diagnosis also assesses obstacles to growth, strategic direction, management, marketing, and exports. The tool then draws up an informative and comprehensive assessment that allows users to compare their business practices against best practices, identify gaps and see their competitive advantages. 
    At the end of each session, the tool generates a report, a dashboard with a bench-marking system and a radar chart showing the results, and recommendations for action. This tool is also developed as a web-based application. 
     

    The Due-Diligence (DD) Tool was developed to support start-ups become investment ready by taking them through a due diligence process. Start-ups and entrepreneurs are evaluated on business evaluation, exit evaluation, operations, economics, business model, customer and product, and the market. The exercise consists of one-hour face-to-face meetings with the start-ups and a detailed questionnaire that reviews the most critical DD areas. It then generates a radar chart result with automated recommendations for improvement on low scores. 
     

    The Internationalization Readiness tool assesses the potential of a tech start-up to expand internationally. A detailed questionnaire evaluates different areas such as the tech start-up's service offering, growth strategy, and market entry approach. Based on the findings, a report will be shared with the start-up, including a benchmark view on the expansion readiness of the start-up. 
     

    At the level of the market, we connect businesses with other businesses and investors. This includes different networking opportunities and exposure to potential investors. ITC regularly organizes events, such as mass challenges, which pool start-ups from client countries to pitch for funding. ITC also supports start-ups to attend pitching events like Slush and Seedstars, and facilitates introductions to partner Venture Capital firms where relevant. 
     

    When working with start-ups, we offer coaching on improving different aspects. For instance, coaching on how to pitch is an essential element for the start-ups to thrive. 

    External Tools

    Many entrepreneurs come up with a great business idea, however it can be hard to materialize the concept. Where do you start, what do you need to get started, how to turn this idea into reality? These questions and more are answered in an on-demand webinar offered by Stanford.  

    The Value Proposition Canvas has a customer profile that describes how a business relates to the customer’s jobs, pains and gains, according to their importance, severity and relevance, and a value map that includes products and services, pain relievers, and gain creators which the business generates. The Value Proposition Canvas makes sure that entrepreneurs can clearly explain the values they bring to the customers. 
     
     

    The Business Model Canvas is a template that helps entrepreneurs developing their business models to best describe how their organizations create, deliver and capture value. This template is taken from Strategyzer  and delivers a strategic and lean business model canvas that shows the logic of how a company intends to make money.  

    Factory24 is an initiative in which Afrolynk aims to mentor and train individuals and entrepreneurs in the tech sector, by creating a platform for young Africans to learn for free and pay for the certification. The goal is to be the source of disruptive innovations in Africa to develop and build solutions that overcome current social-economic challenges and transform Africa's human capital in technology.

    FoxyMojo is a Malaysian financial valuation and advisory consultancy that offers an online due diligence and valuation service. Selected start-ups will be evaluated including their three- to five-year strategic plan/pitch deck, and offered advice onbusiness value for fundraising, a consultation on valuation results which includes financial advisory, and a membership to Foxymojo’s Business network for South-East Asia and global market access and investment opportunities.  

    We hope to scale up and expand the solution to West Africa. ICT4Dev helped us with training, online sales and payments. The volume of sales increased by 40%-50%.
    We hope to scale up and expand the solution to West Africa. ICT4Dev helped us with training, online sales and payments. The volume of sales increased by 40%-50%.
    Jean Delmas Ehui, Founder
    ICT4DEV, Cote d’Ivoire
    A mobile platform linking farmers to customers
    A mobile platform linking farmers to customers
    One of our target areas is cleaning services, where we work mainly with women. This helps support them and their families, so they don't feel they have to go leave the country to get a job.
    One of our target areas is cleaning services, where we work mainly with women. This helps support them and their families, so they don't feel they have to go leave the country to get a job.
    Yonas Abeje
    Lead, Taskmoby, Ethiopia
    A digital marketplace offering home services
    A digital marketplace offering home services
    #FastTrackTech taught us how to pitch to investors, we took part in human resource training, and attended international conferences.
    #FastTrackTech taught us how to pitch to investors, we took part in human resource training, and attended international conferences.
    Marius Okouin
    Co-founder, Izichange, Benin  
    A fintech platform that enables users to translate local currency into euros or dollars for personal and business use
    A fintech platform that enables users to translate local currency into euros or dollars for personal and business use
    #FastTrackTech were instrumental in building up our teams. What used to take me 3 days I can now do in a day.
    #FastTrackTech were instrumental in building up our teams. What used to take me 3 days I can now do in a day.
    Inonge Imasiku
    Founder, Mangwee Payments, Zambia
    A payment platform and data management system for educational institutions
    A payment platform and data management system for educational institutions
    Beem platform allowed me to reinforce training by using SMS messages to reach thousands of farmers in villages across central Tanzania.
    Beem platform allowed me to reinforce training by using SMS messages to reach thousands of farmers in villages across central Tanzania.
    Taha Jiwaji
    Founder and CEO, Beem, Tanzania
    A messaging, USSD, airtime, mobile payment and chatbot services for businesses, including banks, retail outlets, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), even church groups
    A messaging, USSD, airtime, mobile payment and chatbot services for businesses, including banks, retail outlets, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), even church groups
    O'genius platform helped so much. #FastTrackTech-sponsored webinars were such amazing learning.
    O'genius platform helped so much. #FastTrackTech-sponsored webinars were such amazing learning.
    Origene Igiraneza
    Founder and CEO, O’genius Panda, Rwanda
    A software start-up that develops mobile and web solutions in the areas of education, service delivery and other related IT services
    A software start-up that develops mobile and web solutions in the areas of education, service delivery and other related IT services
    Denko Kuna Foni Koita platform saves lives. #FastTrackTech helped develop the model by offering business mentoring and networking opportunities.
    Denko Kuna Foni Koita platform saves lives. #FastTrackTech helped develop the model by offering business mentoring and networking opportunities.
    Fatoumata Bocoum Koita
    CEO, Denko Kuna Foni Koita, Mali
    A health tech platform for girls and women
    A health tech platform for girls and women

    Video

    29 September 2022

    Resources

    Digital entrepreneurship will accelerate the digital transformation of Africa, a key driver for reaching Sustainable Development Goals.
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    ITC in the media

    Top Africa News
    16 Mar 2022
    Market screener
    5 Apr 2021
    People Daily
    25 Nov 2020

    ITC contact

    Martin
    Labbe
    Email
    labbe [at] intracen.org