Silicon Valley entrepreneurs back Kenya-based innovation fellowship


Slack’s Stewart Butterfield, Box’s Aaron Levie and Craig Newmark of Craigslist have provided donations to the Nairobi-based Impact Africa Network to help it absorb more people into its 12-month Innovation Fellowship programme.

Impact Africa Network is a non-profit startup studio on a mission to ensure young talented Africans can participate in the digital transformation of Africa as creators and owners.

The organisation’s rigorous 12-month Innovation Fellowship gives talented college graduates the opportunity to work on well-vetted ideas with likeminded peers under the guidance of a strong leadership team and mentor network. The goal is to expand entrepreneurial capacity while at the same time develop fundamentally-sound early-stage startups. 

Impact Africa Network has now announced support from a number of Silicon Valley tech leaders, namely Slack chief executive officer (CEO) Stewart Butterfield, Box CEO Aaron Levie, and Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.

The three entrepreneurs have joined the organisation’s 100 Founders’ Challenge, with their donations to be used to provide more young people with access to the fellowship programme. Since its inception in January 2019, Impact Africa Network has provided Innovation Fellowship opportunities to 40 young Africans, and played a part in the formation of STEM education startup Jenga School.

“When we launched Impact Africa Network I had no doubt that impact-oriented tech leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond would not hesitate to support the work we are doing. They are uniquely positioned to understand how critical support is to the development of young innovators early in their career. Most of them benefited from similar support when they were coming through the ranks,” said Mark Karake, CEO of Impact Africa Network.

Newmark said he chose to support the programme in order to stimulate Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurialism, in the best sense of that, in Africa.

“It’s important because it creates employment and opens doors for advancement in careers and wealth creation,” he said.


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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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