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Top 5 Global Accelerators For Nigerian FinTechs

 

Accelerators have become a vital part of startup ecosystems around the world. These institutions help early-stage ventures with the technical support, networks, and funding they need to leapfrog several stages of growth within a relatively short period.


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Several Nigerian startups have been admitted into accelerator programs, and have enjoyed the benefits they have to offer. Many of them have gone on to become market leaders in their space, multiplying their valuation and doing business on a much wider scale.

If you run a FinTech in Nigeria, you may want to know what the best accelerators for your startup are. This article is a brief review of some of the better global accelerators you may consider applying to.

Techstars

Techstars is an American accelerator with a global presence; outside of the United States, it supports accelerators in Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, France, UK, among others.

Founded in 2006, Techstars began operations the following year, with ten startups benefiting from its accelerator program. Since then, it has significantly expanded its reach; by 2019, it had accepted more than 1,600 startups into its program.

Getting into Techstars can be a tough undertaking, with less than 1% of applicants accepted per annum. This is despite the fact that applications are open six times a year. However, a number of Nigerian startups—including FinTechs like OnePipe, Awabah, and Rise Vest –have gained entry into it in the past few years.

The Techstars accelerator lasts for three months. Each participant receives $120,000 in funding, as well as access to mentorship and Techstars’ global network.

Y Combinator

Perhaps the most well-known accelerator on this list, Y Combinator has enabled the launch and growth of more than 3,000 startups from across the world. That number includes Airbnb, Stripe, Dropbox, Coinbase, Reddit, and Instacart.

Y Combinator was founded in 2005. In the past few years, it’s been based in San Francisco; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen it take its program online.

A large and growing number of Nigerian startups have taken part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program. They include FinTechs like Paystack, Flutterwave, Payhippo, Blueloop, Mono, and Flux.

This accelerator accepts at least two batches of startups into its program every year. These companies receive $125,000 in funding and get trained to market their product, build a sustainable business model, and scale their startup.

Village Capital

Village Capital’s focus is on impact investing. They operate with a mission to “democratize entrepreneurship” and tackle problems around financial inclusion, education, and healthcare.

Since its founding in 2009, the accelerator has expanded its presence across the world and has invested in over a thousand startups from about 28 countries. Its offices are in London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Nairobi.


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Nigerian FinTechs that have participated in Village Capital’s accelerator programs include PiggyVest and Riby Finance.

Past accelerators run by Village Capital include FinTech Africa 2018, launched in partnership with PayPal and featuring ten startups; VillCap Communities Africa, run in partnership with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Impact Program; and the Future of Work Africa, focused on scaling startups that help young Africans to find jobs.

MEST Africa

Launched in Ghana in 2008 by the Meltwater Foundation, MEST Africa helps outstanding startups on the continent to become thriving businesses. Thus far, more than 60 startups from all over Africa have benefitted from its Incubation and Seed Fund. They come from a variety of segments, ranging from digital media and e-commerce to healthcare and FinTech.

Startups that want to partake in MEST Africa’s accelerator program can apply for its one-year fully funded entrepreneurship program which takes place in Accra, Ghana. There, they will get the training and support they need to scale. This includes an investment of between $50,000 and $250,000.

MEST Africa also offers incubation for African startups, which lasts for between 18 and 24 months and takes place at its hubs. These hubs are located in Accra, Cape Town, Nairobi, and Lagos.

Seedstars

Established in 2012, Seedstars is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has a presence in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. It supports and facilitates investment in startups that are active in emerging and frontier markets, including Africa.

Seedstars provides these startups with business support and access to networks, which allows them to scale and succeed at their mission.

Ventures selected for the accelerator partake in weekly workshops, one-on-one mentoring, bootcamps, social activities, and KPI sessions. They also receive $50,000 in initial funding and may get follow-on financing of up to $500,000. The program may be designed to take place virtually, onsite, or adopt a hybrid format.

Nigerian FinTechs Chaka, Lendigo, and Quickcheck have all participated in the Seedstars accelerator.

Final Words

FinTechs in their early stage of growth can reap immense gains from entering accelerator programs. But accelerators don’t all offer the same quality of service. The ones we’ve covered here are among the best in the world and are known to have accepted Nigerian startups in the recent past. If you’re building a FinTech and would like to enjoy the benefits that accelerators provide, you may consider applying to them.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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