Guidebooks that profile some of Africa’s most impactful startups are set to launch this year in Lagos, Accra, Kigali and Nairobi. Founded by Sissel Hansen in 2014, Startup Guide books shine the light on startups tackling socio economic issues, the brains behind them and the communities backing them.

So far, about 30 guide books have been published across Europe, America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Last year, the company published three guide books focused on Cairo, Capetown and Johannesburg. This year, they plan to extend the books to cover active startup communities in Lagos, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; Kigali, Rwanda and Nairobi, Kenya.

The first Africa-Focused guide books focused on Cape Town, Johannesburg and Cairo
Source: Startup Guide

This year and moving forward, Startup Guide is shifting its focus to companies that are merging impact with profitability. The company says it “wants to change the narrative of what good business means” and show would-be entrepreneurs that they can build companies that offer economic, environmental and social value, companies that align profit with purpose especially along the lines of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

“As a Startup Guide, we have the responsibility not only to inspire anyone anywhere to do business, that was what our original mission was, but also to inspire people that are starting businesses that are aligning profit with purpose ” said Jiske van Straaten, External Community Manager at Startup Guide.

The launch of Startup Guide Switzerland, a country-wide guide book which it unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January is the first instalment in its new direction. 

More guides are planned for Japan, Nagoya and Egypt and will feature, in addition to startups, founders, schools, experts, investors, accelerator/incubation programs, and spaces working together in these locations to impact the entrepreneurship landscape. 

The guidebooks are ideally targeted at millennials looking to start their own businesses or who will join the workforce at these startups in the near future. But they are also very useful for anyone seeking an understanding of the startup ecosystem in any of these locations. Copies of the guide book which average 210-230 pages cost between US$11-23.

Why physical books at a time when there is a slew of digital information to choose from? 

“There was always demand for a print product,” Anna Weissensteiner, Head of Business Development at the Startup Guide, explains. The tangibility of the product is a uniqueness that its target audience has sought after over the years. 

“There’s a lot of information online but usually, it is a mass of information and it is also not curated,” she says.

The book presents a compact, easy-to-access format that one can easily peruse and get a sense of each ecosystem in no time. Although the company has launched its digital platform and has since begun pairing the books with an electronic format that can be purchased solely,  Weissensteiner says the focus remains on the print. 

In Lagos, Startup Guide will be partnering with pan-African hub, Co-Creation Hub, Impact Hub Lagos, Workstation with the sponsorship of SAP Africa to develop this book project. 

The guide will highlight impactful incubator/accelerator programs, co-working spaces, investors/investment opportunities as well as the current state of the ecosystem in each city.

“Last year for the first time ever, we produced two books in Africa,” Hansen said about its new project on the continent.

“Now, we’re thrilled to be back on the continent. We hope to find partners that can support the mission to raise global awareness for what is happening in the Accra, Lagos, Kigali and Nairobi startup scenes.”

van Straaten says the company is focusing on African capitals for the time being and hopes to make a second version of the books in another two years.

“A country-wide book is also the direction we are going in now,” she adds, which will be beneficial in showing that not only capital cities are leveraging innovation but there are pockets of impactful communities spreading across the continent. 

According to Damilola Teidi, Director of Incubation at CC-Hub, the books will provide an extra avenue to showcase the activities in the Lagos system, in addition to what is happening digitally.

“I recently picked up the Cape Town book, not because I can’t browse for information online, but it was really helpful in knowing where to go, who to connect with,” she adds. 

The finished Startup Guides are a product of a multi-level selection process which begins with an open call for nomination, and is followed by the input of local partners, an advisory board selection and the organisation’s internal research. And while only a few of these components can end up in the book, the idea is to showcase a diverse and accurate set of programs, investments/investors, co-working spaces, startup ecosystems as well as the founders working in these communities so as to give a full representation of each city’s ecosystem.

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