Home » Google CEO Sundar Pichai announces plans to invest $50 million in African startups

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announces plans to invest $50 million in African startups

by Ishioma Emi

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced the company’s plans to invest up to $50 million in high-growth African startups through its Africa Investment Fund.

The CEO made this known while speaking at a virtual event yesterday, Oct. 7, Techcrunch reported. He stated that the newly announced $50-million Africa Investment Fund will enable the company to take equity in high-growth African startups in exchange for various check sizes.

In his statement, Pichai added that the $50-million investment in African startups will be made under its African Investment fund, a $1-billion commitment to support digital transformation and the growth of businesses on the continent over the next five years.

The initiative was set up to provide support ranging from improved connectivity via Google’s subsea cable Equiano to investments in small businesses and startups in Africa.

Startups and venture capital activities in Africa are dominated by Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. Pichai explained that the investment will be open to other African countries, as applications from Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe will not be overlooked.

In addition, the company said it has partnered Kiva, the San-Francisco-based nonprofit lending organization, to disburse $10 million in low-interest loans to small businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa to alleviate hardships occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Google Managing Director of Sub-Saharan Africa Nitin Gajria said the innovative African tech startup scene is inspiring. The continent recently witnessed more investment rounds into tech startups than ever before. 

“I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and startup founders. We look forward to deepening our partnership with, and support for, Africa’s innovators and entrepreneurs,” Gajria said.

Google’s previous commitments in Africa 

In previous years, Google has met its commitments by supporting startups in Africa through its Google for Startups Accelerator Africa Program and the newly created Black Founders Fund. 

The tech giant noted that more than 80 startups, including Twiga, Paystack and Piggyvest, have benefited from the accelerator program’s equity-free mentorship and resources over the last three years, with more than $100 million generated in venture financing.

Under the behemoth’s Black Founders Fund, a non-dilutive financial award to Black-led companies in three regions, 50 startups have been chosen to participate in the program pegged to commence on Oct. 13.

The startups will receive up to $100,000 each in equity-free funding, as well as Google Cloud credits, Google.org ad grants, and other resources.

The Black Founders Fund manages a $5-million fund in the United States, a $3-million fund in Africa and a $2-million fund in Europe.

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