Africa’s innovative entrepreneurship and business concept talent has been recognised in prestigious F-LANE Accelerator Programme.
Three African startups; Zoora, Bidhaa Sasa, and Hive Online were selected to participate in the five-week programme and successfully graduated on 5 November 2020.
F-LANE’s focus on social impact
Hosted by the Vodafone Institute in Germany, F-LANE is reportedly Europe’s first accelerator that focuses on early-stage social impact centric startups founded by women. Receiving over 450 applications this year, nine unique and cutting-edge startups were selected from across the globe.
Inger Paus, Managing Director of the Vodafone Institute provides insight into their aims behind supporting women-owned early-stage and social impact centric startups.
“Our research has shown just how enormous the underrepresentation of female founders is in the tech sector worldwide and their lack of access to venture capital. Only 2.8% of venture capital invested globally goes to women-led companies. We launched F-LANE to support social business models that have the potential to change the economic opportunities, wellbeing, and future prospects of girls and women globally.”
During the programme, selected startups received virtual training, personalised support, the opportunity to network and engage with a range of impact investors. Offering an in-depth training session, the programme covered various topics, from organisational development and human resources, impact storytelling, financing and investment, and more.
Graduates of the programme are equipped with the skills and development to be investor-ready.
With an aim to support social business startups led by women, the programme is funded by Vodafone Institute and run by Yunus Social Business, an organisation founded by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
The African startups
Founded in 2019 by Sarah Atuhaire Baryaija , Zoora functions as a digital edutech platform, providing digital education in finance, business development, smart agriculture, climate change, and more. Overall the Uganda-based startup aims to provide rural women farmers manage their farm records, savings and more with the use of the Digital Data Management System available on Zoora.
With an aim to empower its users, Zoora provides a host of skills to women and assists users in storing their valuable data. Zoora improves the productivity of women and their financial status via increased financial knowledge, fostering economic sustainability in rural communities.
The Kenya-based startup, Bidhaa Sasa was founded in 2015 by Rocio Perez Ochoa and David Disch. The startup is a finance and last-mile distribution company that focuses on providing a range of household goods to rural homes in Kenya.
The products available such as solar lamps, water tanks, and more, have been chosen to save users time and money. Bidhaa Sasa cost-effectively provides products on a credit basis, where users can purchase items via installment payments. Utilising local networks of women’s financial lending groups, the startup commercialises their products and are able to reach a wider customer base via word of mouth.
The Kenyan startup aims to improve the quality of its clients based in rural areas.
Operational in Rwanda, Sweden, and Denmark, Hive Online was founded in 2017 by Sofie Blakstad and Matthew Mims. Hive Online is a distributed community finance platform that enables financially excluded entrepreneurs in rural Africa access to credit and new markets.
Utilising blockchain technology, the startup provides a trusted financial history based on a business’s portfolio. This platform in turn encourages businesses, NGOs, merchants, and financial institutions to support small business ecosystems and offer cost-effective financial services to their client base.