By the end of 2022, world leaders will be halfway towards the 2030 deadline of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of ending poverty, fighting inequality, and stopping climate change. However, seven years on and countries across the globe are on track to accomplish almost none of them[i].
This is no different in Africa – a continent where 40% of all people continue to live in extreme poverty[ii], and where less than half of the African Union member states have experienced sustainable socio-economic growth since the early 2000s[iii]. To achieve the 2030 deadline, African leaders will need to quadruple their efforts and double down on investments into innovation and ingenuity[iv].
Answering this call, the Global Startup Awards (GSA) – in partnership with the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG) – is excited to announce its return to the African continent for the 2023 edition of the African Startup Awards; the largest independent startup ecosystem competition with the mission to find, recognise, network and accelerate future-shaping ideas with the potential to create positive change and improve the quality of life of Africans.
Now in its second year, GSA Africa is a continent-wide opportunity for SDG-aligned solutions with global relevance, focusing on agriculture, climate, commerce, education, healthcare, and mobility & logistics, among others, with particular interest in startups championing Web3 technologies, sustainable business models, green innovation, and diversity in the workplace. The year-long competition will see entrants compete at a national level before vying for their spot as a regional finalist. Thereafter, the continent’s top innovators will gather in-person at the GSA Africa Summit in August 2023, for a two-day conference and gala dinner to convene, connect and celebrate Africa’s most innovative minds.
Jo Griffiths, Co-Founder of GSA Africa, says that: “Historically, Africa has had to battle against this narrative of the ‘Dark Continent’ – but if we learnt anything from last year’s competition, which gathered more than 7,000 entries – it’s that Africa is a continent brimming with world-class talent, with impact-driven ideas, and with ample opportunities to scale. We’re incredibly excited to spend this next season connecting with the next cohort of leaders in African innovation, and to support their growth with new opportunities for funding, access to market, and mentorship at a global level.”
With categories for startups, investors, ecosystem enablers and individuals, winners of the African Startup Awards will also gain exclusive access to the GSA Alumni Network – an invite-only club to fast-track startup outcomes and connect members with regional and global stakeholders, as well as matchmaking opportunities between active investors, successful startups, accelerator and incubator programs, and like-minded government initiatives.
Commenting on his experience of the African Startup Awards is the winner of last season’s award for Best HealthTech Startup in Africa, Ryan Marincowitz – Founder and CEO of MyHealth Africa – who explains that: “I highly recommend startups of all verticals to apply for the GSA Africa competition, as it introduces founders to a wide range of funding and investment opportunities, as was our case. But what was also amazing was that, while not everyone was a winner, we all still benefitted from mentorship and training workshops on issues such as global market access, which are another part of the programme.”
Adding to this is Kim Balle, Co-Founder of GSA Global, who notes that: “In addition to these investment, networking and mentorship opportunities, startup winners of the African awards will also be invited to attend the Global Grand Finale taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 2023. Here, Africa’s top innovators will have the chance to engage with a range of potential partners from innovation ecosystems from across the globe.”
The second edition of the African Startup Awards comes as the continent becomes home to more than 1,000 active startups, which together raised more than US$ 1 billion in venture capital in 2021[v]. Furthermore, research conducted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has found that achieving the SDGs could open $12 trillion in market opportunities and create 380 million jobs for Africans by 2030[vi].
Speaking to the significance of investing in African startups, Mahyar Makhzani, Co-Founder of GIIG, adds that: “It’s important to also recognise that cross-border initiatives such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) create amplified opportunities to scale innovation from one region to another. By partnering with GSA Africa, the GIIG Africa Fund is well positioned to invest in and assist the continent’s top startups to harness these transnational developments – however in doing so, we’re also looking for more partners at the national, regional level and global levels, who can ensure that this process is as seamless as possible.”
Applications for the 2023 season of GSA Africa will be open from 4 November 2022 to 31 January 2023, with entrepreneurs, startups and innovation organisations at all stages of the growth cycle invited to apply. For more information on GSA Africa, or to enter this year’s awards, go to: www.globalstartupawardsafrica.com