Savannah Fund announces 4th accelerator class

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Kenya-based accelerator programme Savannah Fund has announced its fourth cohort, with four startups picked from 150 applications to receive between US$25,000 and US$30,000 investment.

The programme, which will end with graduation and a demo day at the end of July, also gives startups the chance to be fast-tracked for the accelerator run in Silicon Valley by Savannah Fund partner 500Startups, which offers US$100,000 investment and US re-incorporation. This feat has already been achieved by former accelerator participant CardPlanet.

Savannah Fund has invested in 20 startups in six African countries, including the likes of BabyGroup, ACE and WyzeTalk.

“This class hails from Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Malawi and is an interesting mix of financial services/fintech, marketing and ecommerce, including our first bitcoin related investment, strong B2B startups and half the class has at least one woman co-founder,” said Savannah Fund managing partner Mbwana Alliy.

The selected startups include Zimbabwe’s BitFinance, which runs the BitcoinFundi online bitcoin exchange, allowing users to buy and sell bitcoin with mobile money and bank transfers. The second selected startup, Djuaji, has co-founders from Kenya and Malawi and facilitates scalable survey-based research to help businesses obtain data at low cost by paying respondents with mobile money.

Completing the cohort are Kenyan startups Forex, which assists the retail segment with transacting foreign exchange, and Podozi, a beauty technology and content-driven e-commerce startup.

Savannah Fund believes a key part of its overall strategy is to address the gaps in skills and experience of entrepreneurs in the region through the accelerator.

“An accelerator programme is designed to help emerging entrepreneurs build a company and launch a product,” Savannah Fund said.

“Early-stage companies participate in “cohorts” and be exposed to a programme to learn from experienced local and high value and reputable mentors that have built global technology brands that are also very hands-on as would be expected by angel investors.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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