Applications for the inaugural African Leadership Network’s (ALN) Ventures nine-month accelerator programme remain open until November 30, with US$20,000 funding available for successful participants.
ALN said the selection panel is considering applications from all sectors, hoping to “cast a broader net”, and has already reviewed applications from producers of cosmetics, software developers, and agribusinesses.
“As long as the energy and dynamism are there, we’re all ears,” James Loss-Wells of ALN Ventures told Disrupt Africa.
The three criteria for the accelerator – which begins in January 2015 – are that the startup must have been operational for less than two years, have at least one founder working full-time on the project, and have received less than US$250,000 in total external funding to date.
“We’re looking for businesses that are appropriate to—and desirous of—pan-African expansion. Whether you’re from a big or small country, whatever the local languages, and whatever the local realities, we want to know if you have the drive and capability to take your business Africa-wide,” Loss-Wells said.
Selected startups stand to receive upto US$20,000 seed funding in return for a 5 per cent equity stake, contingent on passing “milestones” by month three. If these milestones are not met, a startup may be asked to leave the accelerator and 2.5 per cent of the initial equity stake is returned.
Members of the network are also invited to make their own investments in participating companies throughout the programme.
Participants will benefit from access to the members of the ALN Network, in the form of a “coach”, advice from sector-specific experts, business skills advice – such as in finance, and marketing.
Need-based ad hoc investor meetings will be set up throughout the nine months to help the startups get follow-on funding, while participants will also be invited to showcase their companies to investors at next year’s ALN Annual Gathering.
“Accelerator programs are important everywhere, but in Africa they are especially so. Companies across the continent struggle to find support in their early stages,” Loss-Wells said, adding that funding in the range between US$100,000 and US$1.5 million are most difficult to find.
“Our accelerator bridges that gap by connecting great companies to eager investors,” Loss-Wells said.
“Mentorship and knowledge are the other critical piece.”
Applications can be made via the ALN ventures website, at www.alnventures.com/apply.