AfriLabs, one of Africa’s leading tech innovation organizations hosted the 8th edition of its Annual Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda. For the last 8 years, AfriLabs has hosted the Annual Gathering unfailingly to revolutionize the innovation and technology ecosystem, providing support to startups and tech professionals across Africa.
Hosted by the Rwandan Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Hon Paula Ingabire, the event featured key industry leaders and organizations committed to reshaping the future of African innovation and entrepreneurship.
Activities such as intellectual panel discussions, master classes, workshops, focus group discussions, training, showcase of best practices and co-creation sessions throughout the event.
“Rwanda is always open to welcome regional and global innovators. Our goal is to empower scalable startups that collectively transform our communities with cutting edge innovations”- Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Rwanda.
To show further commitment to the efforts of AfriLabs for the 8th AfriLabs Annual Gathering, the Rwandan government was fully represented by Yves Iradukunda, Permanent Secretary and Esther Kunda, Director General of Innovation and Emerging Technology of the Ministry of ICT. The Rwandan government also provided in-kind and financial support to AfriLabs for the Annual Gathering.
This year’s edition themed “Accelerating Africa’s digital economy; by the strength of our community” provided stakeholders such as high-level startup founders, academics, media partners, developmental organizations and titans of the industry an opportunity to exchange knowledge and witness the collective actions and initiatives AfriLabs will be taking to fully digitize Africa by 2030.
Reiterating AfriLabs' dedication to provide quality support to African startups and tech professionals, the organization made 5 major announcements at the event.
- MoU Signing at AAG 23:
AfriLabs announced its partnership with Builder.ai, Algeria Venture, and Renew Capital. The organization also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with all three entities at an event to further its mission of empowering African startups.
The MoU signing includes the following details:
Through its partnership with Builder.ai, an AI-powered software that assists technical and non-technical individuals, organizations, and platforms, the African market will be provided with access to Builder.ai’s platform, Studio Pro, and tools to foster innovation and economic growth across Africa. This will increase Builder.ai's trust and relevance within the market and with stakeholders.
In conjunction with Algeria Venture, also known as A-Venture, a state-owned startup accelerator in Algeria dedicated to nurturing the startup ecosystem and driving economic growth in Algeria, both organizations will share knowledge, resources, and expertise to promote sustainable growth and development within the African continent. They will focus on initiatives that benefit Algerians and members of AfriLabs.
AfriLabs' partnership with Renew Capital, an Africa-focused impact investment firm that supports innovative companies with high-growth potential, will provide a platform for African startups to access Renew Capital's global network of angel investors, foundations, and family offices. This partnership will connect investors to innovative companies and startups, creating economic and social value not only in Africa but around the world.
- Working Mother’s Guide
AfriLabs is committed to bridging the gender gap and creating an inclusive ecosystem for parents, especially women. To further support this aim, Jennifer Okeke-Ojiudu, the Senior Ecosystem Engagement Manager at AfriLabs, launched the Working Mother's Guide on October 11, 2023, the first day of the three-day event. The guide is designed to provide support and guidance to working mothers, particularly those in the technology and innovation sector, to help them balance their work and family responsibilities. At the Annual Gathering, industry leaders and stakeholders who are members of the AfriLabs community were encouraged to endorse and commit to adopting this initiative to support working mothers across Africa. Access the Working Mothers Guide here.
- AfriLabs Connect Deal Room
AfriLabs Connect Deal Room (ACDR) is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at addressing the critical challenges of identifying, funding, and accessing investible startups within the African innovation ecosystem. The platform was officially introduced by Mr. Ajibola Odukoya, AfriLabs' Chief Operation Officer, on the 2nd day of the event..
The African startup scene has been on a remarkable path, with a valuation of $6.6 billion as of 2021, according to the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report by Startup Genome.
AfriLabs recognizes the immense potential of these startups and has made it their mission to facilitate their financing across various sectors in Africa. The primary objective of ACDR is to provide investment funds with access to a Pan African pipeline of investible and de-risked startups.
The AfriLabs Connect Deal Room (ACDR) is set to transform the startup investment landscape in Africa by allowing investors to register their portfolios of startups into an exclusive pool. These startups will then be carefully selected and matched with investors and funds based on their specific requirements, including ticket sizes, sector of interest, and other essential criteria. Additionally, the platform will offer follow-on support through AfriLabs' extensive ecosystem, which includes over 400 innovation and technology hubs across 53 countries.
"AfriLabs Connect Deal Room (ACDR) is targeted at hubs with mature startups looking to scale up with Series A, Series B, and Series C type of funds. We've established a robust investor pipeline with a keen focus on the African continent. These investors are committed to adapting their business processes to align with the unique needs of African startups, and they are fully prepared to work with companies looking to scale up," stated Ajibola Odukoya, Chief Operating Officer at AfriLabs.
L-R (Tomi Davis-Collaborator in Chief at CiC, Bisila Bokoko- Global Leadership Speaker, Stephanie Busari- Senior Editor at CNN, Anna Ekeledo- Executive Director at AfriLabs, Aisha Augie-Creator General at Centre for Art and Creative Talent and Yacine Chikhar-Head of Operations at Algeria Venture).
The ACDR initiative will be efficiently managed through AfriLabs Connect, a purpose-built ecosystem engagement platform that brings together the largest community of innovation enablers in Africa. This platform is poised to foster collaboration, innovation, and investment opportunities, ensuring the continued growth and success of Africa's dynamic startup ecosystem.
AfriLabs has consistently played a pivotal role in supporting and accelerating the growth of startups across the African continent. The introduction of the AfriLabs Connect Deal Room further underscores their commitment to driving innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.
- AfriLabs Connect 2.0
During the 3-Day Annual Gathering, AfriLabs also announced the launch of AfriLabs Connect 2.0, a digital ecosystem engagement platform designed to empower the African innovation ecosystem to thrive, accelerate and transform. AfriLabs Connect 1.0 was launched last year at the 7th edition of the AfriLabs Annual Gathering at Lusaka, Zambia. The upgraded platform will provide a more personalized experience for members. The platform also has an exceptional feature that allows members to manage their profiles, connect with other members, and access exclusive content.
To ensure a seamless experience, a LinkedIn-enabled sign-up and login feature was included to make it easier to join the community of innovation enablers. Join the movement to revolutionize and digitize Africa by joining AfriLabs’ Connect platform here AfriLabs Connect
- Innovation Tool Kit by GIZ Make IT:
GIZ Make IT, the lead sponsor of the event launched an Open Innovation Toolkit (OIP).
This announcement was made during the Hub Solutions and Sustainability Track where the importance of understanding and building effective hub models was discussed.
A welcome keynote speech was given by Marieme KANE, Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation, Innovation and Modernization of Administration, Mauritania.
“Limited access to infrastructure is among the biggest challenges that the African tech hubs face”- Marieme KANE, Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation, Innovation and Modernization of Administration, Mauritania.
The OIP Toolkit was created to guide African Innovation Support Organizations (ISOs) that aim to increase collaboration readiness among SGBs and large enterprises from the private and public sectors in their ecosystem. The toolkit offers a pathway to deliver innovative solutions to formidable problems at scale. The OIP ToolKit can be accessed here GIZ OIP Toolkit_v6.pdf
AfriLabs has consistently played a pivotal role in supporting and accelerating the growth of startups across the African continent. The launch of these strategic initiatives further underscores AfriLabs' commitment to revolutionizing and digitizing Africa through innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Ministry of ICT, Rwanda and AfriLabs co-hosted a Gala with AfriLabs to celebrate Africa’s culture and innovation and entertain delegates. The theme of the Gala was "The Art in our Culture" and it emphasized the importance of embracing our diverse cultural heritage. Esther Kunda, the Director of Innovation and Emerging Technology at the Ministry of ICT & Innovation, Rwanda delivered an eloquent speech to drive home this point. The event was a vibrant intersection for the African regions represented, which featured unique cultures and cultural exchange. The Gala included international cuisine, an exquisite fashion showcase by 360 Creative Innovation Hub, and a brilliant cultural performance by the Inyamibwa Cultural Troupe.