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Y Combinator, a US-based startup accelerator of global renown, has announced that a record number of startups from across the world are taking part in its bi-annual program. And of the more than 200 tech-driven ventures which made it to the program’s winter batch this year, five are Nigerian.

Since its founding in 2005, Y Combinator has brought hundreds of startups under its mentorship and support network and provided seed funding to them. Through these efforts, it’s helped move some of these ventures to multi-million and billion dollar company status. Some of its alumni include Airbnb, Dropbox, Quora, Stripe, and Weebly.

In recent times, the accelerator has reached out beyond the traditional powerhouses of the startup culture, as it seeks new growth frontiers. Beginning in 2016, it has provided support to several African startups. Beneficiaries from Nigeria have included Paystack, a fintech platform; Tizeti, an internet service provider; RelianceHMO (formerly Kangpe); and Kobo360, a logistics firm. On the whole, Nigerian concerns have raised more from Y Combinator cohorts than those from any other African country.

This year, the accelerator’s winter batch has five Nigerian participants: Thrive Agric, Stack Diagnostics, Credpal,, and Schoolable. They form the majority of the seven Africa-focused startups at the Silicon Valley-based program.

Thrive Agric is an agritech venture which gives its clients the opportunity to fund some of Nigeria’s numerous farms via its digital platform, in anticipation of a return on their investment. Stack Diagnostics, through its 54Gene product, aims to be Africa’s foremost genetics testing system; Credpal and are digital payments platforms, as is Schoolable, which has a fees payment solution designed for schools, parents, and students.

A sixth startup, Vetro FX, has British-Nigerian founders and is based in the United Kingdom. The B2B currency exchange marketplace is targeting the African firms doing business internationally, as a first step.

All 200+ startups have been invited to the Silicon Valley base of the Y Combinator accelerator program, which typically lasts three months. Y Combinator opted to release its list of participants several weeks into the program; this report has come out in the final week of the winter batch’s time in California.

The startups in attendance receive $150,000 in funding from Y Combinator, as well as mentorship, training, and access to a global support network over the period they’re at the program. Their time there ends with Demo Day, in which they present their companies to an exclusive audience.

The growing number of Nigerian ventures represented at this program is further evidence of increasing interest in the country’s tech ecosystem from the rest of the world. It also points to a thriving startup scene in which technology is being applied to solve pressing local problems.

The opportunities in a vast landscape on the outer reaches of global tech continue to draw in many indigenous entrepreneurs who possess the skills and foresight to exploit them to the fullest. Accelerators offer a pathway for these entrepreneurs to achieve this goal swiftly and smartly.  

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This article was first published on 22nd March 2019


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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