Back in April 2017, we announced the first nine start-ups selected for our Innovation Fund. Spanning eight countries, all had in common the fact that they developed a unique approach to addressing challenges very specific to their local context, around, for instance, education, transportation or agriculture. Early results from this portfolio are encouraging. All of the start-ups are more committed than ever to leveraging the power of mobile technology to deliver socio-economic impact, and engagements with mobile operators are progressing. Twiga Foods have already raised their Series A, and Ruangguru their Series B; most are in conversation with investors for follow-on funding.
Soon after this announcement, we opened applications for our second intake. For this round, our founding partner DFID was joined by the Australian Government, who provide not only additional funding available to start-ups, but also a great opportunity to strengthen our position in Asia Pacific. The number and variety of applications received – over 550 from over 40 countries – have allowed us to grow our portfolio in size, without compromising on the quality of the companies we’re supporting.
With 15 additions, our portfolio now comprises 24 start-ups based in 15 markets around Africa and Asia Pacific.
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They cover more sectors, including health, insurance, and logisitics, and illustrate a wider range of areas in which local SMEs are using mobile innovation to help solve local problems. Collectively they tackle thirteen of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals introduced by the United Nations and embraced by the mobile industry as a whole. Our commitments to support and develop local talent, and to better represent female entrepreneurs and managers, also remain very strong: local staff and women represent respectively 83 per cent and 32 per cent of all management positions in our current portfolio.
We are committed to helping these organisations realise their full socio-economic and commercial potential. We hope the information included in this document will inspire you to engage with them, and to refer relevant start-ups to the upcoming round of our Innovation Fund.
The Ecosystem Accelerator programme is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Government, the GSMA and its members.