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The application process for the third round of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund (BFF) for Africa has begun. Google has committed $4 million to support eligible black-founded startups.

This follows the success of a $4 million fund to 60 early-stage African founders in the second cohort. In 2021, Google distributed $3 million in non-dilutive funding to 50 investable startups in Africa.

Following the last two cohorts, the program has supported 110 black-owned startups across Africa. Sixty growth-stage startups were selected and supported through the program last year in Africa.

The Google for Startups Black Founders fund aligns with its commitment to digital transformation and support to black-founded startups and is part of the Google racial equity program.

Speaking on the importance of this initiative, Folarin Aiyegbusi, Head of Startup Ecosystem, Google Sub-Saharan Africa, said,

Startups are a critical driver of innovation, economic growth, and social progress, especially in Africa and the support that the selected startups will receive will go a long way to unlock the potential and promote growth in the African tech ecosystem and the next generation of African tech entrepreneurs. We encourage all eligible startups to apply.

The initiative’s main goal is to  “bridge the existing fundraising gap for Black startup founders in Africa’s fast-growing technology landscape”.

About BFF

The BFF is Google’s startup funding initiative designed to offer financial support and help to early-stage black-founded startups in a bid to accelerate growth. According to the tech giant, the fund was created in response to the financial and cultural challenges that black founders regularly face.

These problems have always existed in the past years; the pandemic realities of 2020 and the massive layoffs affected a lot of tech founders disrupting the tech ecosystem. Founders can use this funding to keep their doors open, pay their employees, and focus on how to build their businesses.

So, BFF provides financial support to startups with a vision that will help them to expand their businesses and generate economic growth in Africa, a  means for them to contribute to their communities.

The Black Founders Fund startup program provides funding, hands-on support, connections, and resources to assist founders in developing solutions relevant to the African economy.

Eligibility Criteria

The 2023 Startups Black Founders fund program is available for all aspiring entrepreneurs. However, eligibility procedures have been established to aid in selecting the best businesses.

According to the statement, the application is open to entrepreneurs in selected African countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Here are the criteria:

  • Startups must be headquartered in Africa or have a legal presence there.
  • A black founder or a diverse starting team with at least one black founding member is required for startups.
  • Startups must directly support their domestic market, intending to expand globally and raise more funding.
  • Technology startups with an MVP, live product in a market or business where technology is core to their ability to scale (not for consultancies or not-for-profits)
  • Google products should be compatible with startups.

Other benefits

The Startups Black Founders Fund offers a variety of other benefits. For one, selected businesses will receive a non-dilutive (equity-free) cash award of up to $150,00 per startup.

Also, selected founders will receive $200,000 in Google Cloud credits and access to Google products, a network of mentors from its teams, marketing and legal office hours and workshop sessions, and roundtables with leading VCs and industry experts.

What to expect

  • Startups will select three goals or OKRs to work on for the duration of this program.
  • Founders will be assigned a dedicated Google advisor.
  • Founders will be connected to meet mentors monthly via Google Meet.
  • Startups can build community with other program participants and partake in workshops and skill-building online sessions.

Application process and date

According to the Google document, applications will be evaluated by startup-experienced internal Google teams and investors.  The program starts on February 28th and closes on March 26th.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified and invited to interview in May with an experienced panel led by the company’s team. A pan-European, cross-functional senior selection committee will make a final decision after considering all the information gathered during the application process.

From June 11th- 15th, there will be an in-person kick-off in London and Paris. The program starts in June and ends in November 2023.

Click here to apply