Think Africa: Founders Factory Incubator Launches in South Africa to Back African Startups

Corporate-backed incubator and accelerator Founders Factory has launched in Johannesburg, from where it plans to design, build and scale 100 disruptive tech startups across Africa over the next five years.

Founders Factory, which originally launched in London in 2015, has already built 70 startups, raised GBP100 million (US$130 million) in funding, and implemented 60 pilots with its corporate partners.

The company is now bringing its model to Africa in partnership with Standard Bank, which has made a multi-million dollar investment into Founders Factory Africa. Founders Factory Africa will be led by Roo Rogers, who will hire 40 full-time specialists to provide support to startups.

Founders Factory Africa will design, build and scale 100 tech startups across the continent over the next five years, with Standard Bank the first of multiple corporate partners that aim to grow the tech startup community across Africa, create jobs and attract new capital to the sector.

From its Johannesburg base, the Founders Factory accelerator will grow existing businesses through a bespoke six-month programme, whilst an incubator will build completely new businesses focused on addressing key issues on the continent.

Standard Bank and future corporates will play an integral role by providing access to market, supply chains, customer acquisition channels, data and IP to the startups. These resources and infrastructure will deliver an “unfair competitive advantage” to the businesses that Founders Factory Africa scales.

Participating startups will also have access to global capital, talent and knowledge transfer through the Founders network, which includes world-class entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and successful startups across Africa, Europe, the UK and the US.

“Having worked in Africa for over a decade, I believe success is underpinned by strong collaboration. By harnessing the resources of Africa’s greatest startup entrepreneurs and combining with the operational might of corporates, we will deliver scaled solutions to Sub-Saharan Africa’s one billion consumers and establish Africa as an attractive destination for global investment,” said Rogers.

“I am excited to work with the best startups and their founders, and leveraging my operational team, our corporate investors and the wider Founders Factory global network to build Africa’s hyper-scaled ventures.”

Zweli Manyathi, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Personal and Business Banking Group at Standard Bank, said the bank’s purpose was to drive Africa’s growth.

“We are therefore proud to be launching Founder Factory Africa, together with Founders Factory, where we will be creating a support system for entrepreneurs which helps them better work with large corporates in order to grow their businesses and create jobs across Africa,” Manyathi said.

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