At the first-ever Google for Africa event, held virtually on Wednesday, Google announced the launch of a 50 million-dollar Africa Investment Fund, through which it plans to invest in African startups.
Selected companies will be provided with access to Google’s employees, network and technologies, to help them build products.
Targeted at early- to growth-stage startups, the new investment fund is equity-based, marking a significant shift in Google’s approach to investing in African startups.
Over the last three years, the company’s existing initiative – Google for Startups Accelerator Africa – has provided more than 80 African startups with equity-free finance, cash awards as well as other benefits, including working space and access to expert advisors.
Meanwhile, the Google Black Founders Fund will invest in black-led startups in Africa by providing cash awards and hands-on support.
“In the last year, we have seen more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before,” Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Sub-Saharan Africa, said in an official statement. “I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders.”
The new fund is part of a larger $1 billion that the US tech giant plans to invest in Africa over a five-year period, which CEO Sundar Pichai said will “support the continent’s digital transformation”.
The investment focuses on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans through advanced infrastructure; building helpful products; supporting entrepreneurship and small businesses; and helping nonprofits to improve lives across Africa.
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