Key Developments

Timbuktoo: UNDP Launches $1 Billion Innovation Fund to Back African Startups

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched timbuktoo, a $1 billion innovation fund aimed at backing African startups.

This ambitious program promises to ignite a wave of entrepreneurial success, empowering groundbreaking ideas and reshaping Africa’s economic landscape.

“timbuktoo will be a catalyst,” declares Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP’s Africa Bureau Director.

“Transforming potential into powerful, pan-African businesses that attract global investment and generate prosperity for millions, all while tackling critical challenges for people and planet.”

Launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, timbuktoo received a $3 million boost from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who hosted the fund in Kigali.

Africa holds only 0.2% of global startup value despite its 2% share in global trade.

Foreign venture capital dominates, with 89% flowing in and 83% concentrated in just four countries: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt. Fintech alone attracts over 60% of this capital.

“An Africa powered by knowledge can rise far above its rich resources,” says Eziakonwa. “This is a true revolution.”

Timbuktoo aims to ignite this revolution by backing startups across eight key African cities:

– Fintech in Lagos
– Trade, logistics, and e-commerce in Cairo
– Healthtech in Kigali
– Cleantech in Nairobi
– Creative sector in Cape Town
– Smart city/mobility in Casablanca
– Edtech and traveltech in Dakar
– Agritech in Ghana

This targeted approach, coupled with a “blended capital” model that blends commercial and catalytic funds, aims to de-risk private investment and nurture a comprehensive startup ecosystem.  

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