African Startups to Play a Critical Role in Taking the Planet ‘from Tragedy to Triumph’ …But where will the funding come from?

This week, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) got underway in Glasgow, turning the world’s attention to the global climate crisis and the solutions needed to address this. But many solutions already exist… in Africa.

“Whilst we are delighted that nearly 500 global financial firms have agreed to align $130 trillion – 40% of the worlds’ financial assets – to climate change and to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, now, more than ever, funding needs to be mobilised to scale innovations so they can have maximum impact. For this reason, the GIIG Africa Fund is seeking $100m in capital commitments to invest in tech and innovation in Africa over the next three years,” says GIIG Founding Partner, Mahyar Makhzani, a company set up to find, fund and grow Sustainable Development Goal-aligned tech innovation startups across Africa.

As the exclusive rights holder of the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa, GIIG has an active pipeline of sustainable businesses throughout the African continent addressing the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals and megatrends of the 2020s.

“Additionally, the private sector needs to recognise the role that vehicles like the Global Startup Awards Africa play in the finding and growing of startups to provide an always-on sustainable pipeline of talent,” adds Makhzani.

Caitlin Nash, Founding Partner of GIIG shares that the ability to pioneer affordable and sustainable solutions more cheaply, more flexibly and more inclusively is exactly what the world needs right now to tackle the huge problems of energy transition and climate change. “And this is what we have in Africa.”

This is the first year that all 55 African nations have participated in the GSA competition. The 2021 competition has now closed for entries, with 7,589 startups entering from 54 of the 55 African countries.

Jo Griffiths, GIIG Founding Partner, shares that these startups are well-positioned to respond to the climate crisis. “As Sir David Attenborough said, ‘…we need to rewrite our story, to turn this tragedy into a triumph…A new industrial revolution, powered by millions of sustainable innovations, is essential, and is indeed already beginning. We will all share in the benefits. Affordable, clean energy, healthy air and enough food to sustain us all.’ However, funding is needed to nurture and grow these innovations and forge the revolution ahead.”

In analysing the data gleaned from the GSA Africa entries, 61% are at Seed level, a further 17% at Series A and 4% at Series B. “In many cases, these startups are looking for minimal investment, but their combined contribution to the climate effort will make a significant difference,” notes GIIG Founding Partner, Philip Baldwin. “Our competition entrants have proven that there are solutions available which could make an immeasurable difference to the lives of Africans and those beyond, but without private and public sector commitment and funding, it simply will not work. What’s more, it’s a bankable investment, with past GSA competition winners including five unicorns.”

GSA Africa is currently undergoing a jury process to identify regional finalists, following which the continental winners will be announced in February 2022. All continental winners (along with some runners-up) will be offered funding and have the opportunity to increase their access to networks, new markets and supply chains via GIIG’s global partners.

Baldwin concludes by saying, “It’s now or never. Working together we are powerful enough to save our planet!”