Today's Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (21 April)

World Bank Group Launches New Program to Support Africa’s Top Digital Entrepreneurs, Restructured African Bank gets ratings upgrade, and more


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World Bank Group Launches New Program to Support Africa’s Top Digital Entrepreneurs

The World Bank Group launched XL Africa, a five-month business acceleration program designed to support the 20 most promising digital startups from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Startups will receive mentoring from global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors. With support from prominent African investment groups, XL Africa will help the 20 selected startups attract early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million.              

The program’s flagship activity includes a two-week residency in Cape Town, South Africa, where the ventures will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from their mentors, peers, and local partners. The Cape Town residency will conclude with the Venture Showcase, a regional event in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors.        

The program will collaborate with prominent African investment groups, including the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell InvestmentsKnife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network (SABAN), TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital, and corporate partners, such as Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.

Interested companies can apply online on the XL Africa website by Monday, June 12, 2017.   

Restructured African Bank gets ratings upgrade

The restructured African Bank took another step towards full rehabilitation on Thursday when it announced that S&P Global had revised its credit rating upwards.

The strengthening of the bank that was created from remaining good assets of the mass market micro-lender that collapsed in 2014 is even more impressive when considering the surrounding landscape. Various other South African banks have been moving in the opposite direction, having had their credit ratings downgraded in the wake of the country’s sovereign downgrade earlier this month.

In fact, African Bank said, S&P had noted that it had balanced the bank’s strong capital levels and limited medium-term refinancing risks against the weak economic environment that could negatively impact its earnings and stability, as well as longer term risk that its funding was susceptible to investor confidence.

S&P revised the bank’s outlook from negative to stable and affirmed its ‘B+/B’ global scale rating. Its national scale rating was raised to zaBB from zaBB-.

The global ratings agency had pointed to African Bank’s "markedly" improved capitalisation, which was largely due to a significant reduction in the balance sheet and better-than-expected earnings.

The bank’s financial results for the six months to the end of March are scheduled to be released on May 23. (via African News Agency)

Seedstars World Will Visit Over 23 sub Saharan African Cities To Find the Best Entrepreneurs in Technology

After four successful tours in line with its mission to place the spotlight on entrepreneurs from emerging countries, Seedstars World is travelling to over 23 cities for the Sub-Saharan Africa part of its fifth edition this year to identify the best seed-stage entrepreneurs, adding countries such as Cameroon, Sudan, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the list. Seedstars World has grown to become the largest network and platform for entrepreneurs in technology. 

Since its launch, African startups have had significant successes with 2 of its entrepreneurs winning the global prize in the past: SimplePay (Nigeria: 2013) and Giraffe (South Africa: 2015). In last year's edition, Africa reached a new record when two women entrepreneurs made it to the top 12 at the Global Summit: Kasha (Rwanda), Jamii (Africa). With hopes of repeating this success for African startups in the upcoming summit, Seedstars World is kicking off this year’s tour on 26 May in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The best startups of each country will benefit from local mentorship and exposure as well as from being part of a global network of entrepreneurs, investors and other ecosystem players spanning over 80 countries around the world. In addition, they will be invited to represent their country at the Regional Summit in Africa and win an all-inclusive trip to Switzerland where they will have the chance to introduce their startup to some of the world’s most prominent investors and executives and the opportunity to win up to $500,000 in equity investment and additional prizes. Local winners will also have a chance to be  part of the “seedstars growth program”, a structured 3-month  global acceleration program starting in December. 

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