Building the next wave of tech startups out of Africa

Africa, with its staggering young population, rapidly growing adoption of mobile technologies, increasing middle class and harbouring of 4/10 world’s fastest growing economies, is ready for a tech revolution and Antler is excited to bring its disruptive model to the continent.



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On June 27, Antler launched its very first Africa based office in Nairobi.

Leading the local team is Marie Nielsen, previously, an associate principal at Mckinsey & Company. Currently a  partner in Antler for East Africa and the founder and general manager of Penda Paper Recycling. Melalite Ayenew,  previously insight director at Oracle, currently a tech partner at Antler. Kristy Willard, a director for fundraising and recruitment initiatives for Antler and Selam Kebede, director for partnerships and program development.

Antler East Africa Team at the Nairobi Launch Event
Antler East Africa Team at the Nairobi Launch Event

Africa, with its staggering young population (est. 1.22bn with an average age of 19), rapidly growing adoption of mobile technologies, increasing middle class and host of 4/10 world's fastest growing economies, is ready for a tech revolution. And these innovative tech solutions not only have the potential to address long thriving issues but also  help leapfrog legacy systems. Over the last few years, countries across the African continent have gone from close to no internet to 4G connectivity to mass adoption of mobile money; where 60% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa has  mobile money accounts and transact about $1 billion daily.

The Tech Startup Ecosystem in Africa

In light of the massive opportunities at hand, hundreds of incubators, accelerators and business development service  providers are trying to unlock the continent's potential through programs that support tech entrepreneurship.

Infographic highlighting key places in Africa regarding 618 Tech Hubs

There has also been groundbreaking changes in Africa's geo-political structures with the most recent news of Nigeria signing of the continental free trade area agreement that will allow for a better economic integration of the continent, wave of political reforms lead by youth demanding better leadership, and in general, seeing positive changes towards sustainable growth in every aspect.

Despite this, Africa is still the continent with the least amount of investments by the private sector. However, the past few years have seen exponential growth in this space where the amount invested through VC-backed deals grew the  fastest in the world to almost US$750 million in 2018, and Jumia making history as the first tech unicorn out of  Africa. In 2018, 146 African startups raised a total of US$1.163 billion in equity through 164 investment rounds, a  +108% growth from the year before, relative to +33% in 2016 and +53% in 2017. This represents x4.2 growth multiple  over the last 36 months. (Read full report at the annual Partech Ventures' annual report here)

Graph showing funds raised by African startups
Source The Atlas Charts | Image also appears on QuartzAfrica’s Jan 11, 2019 report.
Man smiling among the crowd at Antler East Africa Launch Event
Antler East Africa Launch Event

Antler works to unlock the power of brilliant people stuck creating gradual change for large corporations.

Antler differs from traditional startup accelerators in multiple ways. First and foremost, Antler targets brilliant talent and not founders with ongoing startups and ideas. During the first 2.5 months of the Antler program, 40 handpicked talents are introduced to each other in a cohort. These individuals are selected through a comprehensive recruitment process including thorough assessments of entrepreneurial qualities and skill sets, resulting in a 4% applicant acceptance rate. On average, more than 50% of the participating individuals in Antler have previously  founded companies, 50% have strong tech development backgrounds, and on average have 9 years of work experience.  Through Antler's facilitation, founders find co-founders with complementary skill sets, and start working on ideas and  business plans with the support of a network of more than 300 advisors.

In each location where Antler operates, a supporting fund is established to invest in the most promising teams and startups created through the program. In East Africa, the fund will invest in approximately 50 startups over a period of 4 years.

Since the end of 2018, Antler has invested $6M into launching 44 global startups operating out of Europe and Asia. After receiving 13,000 applications to its program, Antler selected over 450 exceptional individuals into its program to become startup founders since it launched in 2018.

Antler is now undergoing its final round of recruitment for its first Africa based program in Nairobi, going live on August 5th. If you have grit, ambition, proven business leadership or solid tech experience, and is looking to start  your own tech startup with global ambitions, join us today by registering your LinkedIn profile here. If you also want  to recommend this fantastic opportunity to someone you think would be a good fit, follow the referral link here.

We are excited to welcome our first cohort of founders from all over the world in less than a month!

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