Nine inspiring African impact technology startups working on a wide range of transformative agri-, food- and climate-tech solutions are looking to entice investors in an accelerator programme that was launched last Friday.
The nine which were selected to join the program which will help them scale their businesses had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas during the Katapult Africa Accelerator launch on November 4 in Kigali, Rwanda organised by Katapult in partnership with Norad, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Norrsken, and Smart Africa.
The selected start-ups participating in Katapult’s Accelerator Program include GrowAgric and Aquarech from Kenya, Legendary Foods and Spark from Ghana, Gricd and Vetsak Cleva from Nigeria, Afikamart from Senegal, Sand to Green from Morocco and Elucid which is based in Madagascar and Ghana.
Speaking at the official opening of the accelerator program, the Minister of Technology and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, congratulated the start-ups and pointed out that Africa needs more innovations and ideas that provide sustainable solutions
Having screened over 700 startups, the 9 companies selected by Katapult constitute the very best talent working in the space of food-, agri- and climate impact-tech on the continent.
The selected startups which travelled to Kigali from five African countries reflect the truly cross-continental effort of innovation.
Over a 3-month period, the startups will go through Katapult’s world-class impact accelerator program, with a track record of producing ‘impact unicorns.’
Described as the “most intense and fulfilling MBA you could ever undertake” – and focused on growth, impact and investment readiness – the cohort will engage in rigorous workshops, online meetups, mentor sessions, pitch training and investor presentations specifically designed to prepare the startups for scaling.
Founded in 2017 by the serial entrepreneur and tech investor, Tharald Nustad, Katapult has invested in 145 portfolio companies and has run ten accelerator programs to date.
Underpinned by the vision of building a thriving world for all, the success of Katapult’s investment model has been proven by its four unicorn investments.
Commenting on the launch, Nustad said the decision to launch Katapult in Africa was driven by both a clear recognition of the need for change and an unprecedented opportunity for innovation.
“At Katapult we are highly ambitious and we set our vision to nothing short of building a thriving world for all. It is for this reason that today’s launch represents an important step forward for both Katapult and the impact community,”
“With a climate in crisis, it is all too clear that we must accelerate technologies to both overcome climate challenges and ensure food security. We simultaneously believe that it is Africa with its fast-growing business communities and young, tech-savvy population who are best placed to deliver highly scalable, highly impactful solutions,” Nustad said.
“With the price of inaction all too high and the opportunity for innovation all too apparent, it is a great privilege for us to be able to present 9 of the most dynamic African startups as they begin their Katapult journey,” he added.
Speaking at the launch and of the ambitions of the program, Philip Gasaatura, Katapult Country Director, Rwanda, said that the launch was a climax of a rigorous exercise to identify and invest in the most promising and sustainable startups with a potential to scale and invest in them.
“Beyond investing in them, we take them through our accelerator program which focuses on their growth, their investment strategy and their impact strategy. This is the beginning of the program,”
“At the end of the three months program, which will be in January, they will be pitching to a network of our global investors across the world and will be getting them to raise the funding for their companies,” Gasaatura explained.
“I’m really excited for the future in Africa seeing many companies work tirelessly to solve the challenges in their communities and across Africa,” he said.
Gasaatura added that the portfolio of startups selected for the program represent some of the very best talent, teams and companies across Africa solving some of the big challenges Africa faces in Agriculture and Climate resilience.
Where are the Rwandan startups?
With over 700 startups participating in the initial selection phases, the process to select the best innovative companies was highly competitive and meant that only the very best from across the continent would make it.
“We started this process of sourcing in January and through our network of other venture capital funds or partner networks, we sourced a lot of companies. Some of them were referrals from our existing portfolio companies,”
“We have a portfolio about 145 companies around the world and so once they go through a due diligence process, which looks at the founders themselves, it looks at the traction, a number of them- one of our criteria is that they need have at least $250, 000 in revenue over the last 12 months,” explained Gasaatura.
The startups also needed a route to about a million dollars in the next 12 to 18 months, which means that they were looking at high growth capacity companies as well as teams to execute that. This is where most Rwandan startups fell out
“We did take a look at some of the Rwandan companies and we had very exciting companies. The challenge was in terms of the traction they had gotten in comparison to these ones,” Gasaatura said.
He however said that those that applied will be put in the next cohort to look at for the next couple of years, a period during which they can work on growing their revenue traction and teams.
Accelerators are short-term intensive programs for companies in their early stages that are trying to drive growth as quickly as possible.
These programs are fast-paced, intensive and hands-on. They provide strategic support and investment to advance the scaling of innovative companies.
While the financial investment is definitely important for the startups that are selected, the real advantage is the exposure to specific industry knowledge, leading experts and potential investors, that the accelerators provide during the program.
At the end of the three intensive months, the startups will participate in a demo day where the founders present themselves and their companies to an even wider audience of investors and potential partners.
The last global demo day held in November 2021, saw more than 600 international investors participate to assess the startups from the program as investment cases, whilst over 200 dedicated Africa focused investors joined the first katapult Africa Investor Day in August 2022.
Launched in 2020, Katapult Africa, aims to support and develop the growing impact community in East Africa and the wider-continent.
Through investing in and supporting startups working in the space of food, climate and agri-tech, the Katapult Africa Accelerator Program aims to leverage the potential of a young and tech-savvy population, providing both a source of employment and the solutions that will build a healthier planet for all.
The Katapult Africa Accelerator Program is a ground-breaking program that combines 90 days of intense digital and physical workshops, network & learning sessions with $150,000 equity investments in each selected startup.
In the first year of the program 9 startups were carefully selected in a rigorous 8 months exercise to go through the accelerator program and will receive an investment.
Over 800+ startups were assessed, giving an admittance rate under 2 percent, making it one of the most competitive accelerator programmes.
Katapult’s Partners and lead investors into the Katapult Africa SeedFund include Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), Norfund and SOS Children’s Villages, among others.