Being a business incubator has a lot of meanings and descriptions, but in short, the most accurate one would be that it is and organization, facility or company that helps nurture, accelerate and develop new, startup companies, by providing business support services and resources such as shared and affordable office spaces with common benefits, management training, coaching, marketing support, networking connections and sometimes even access to a possibility of financing. Most business incubators are frequently sponsored by private companies or government entities that become the biggest support for smaller companies. It is very common that startups spend around two years or even more in a business incubator, while they have enough tools to operate on their own. Business incubators are different from technology parks due to the amazing dedication they have for young companies in their early stages. When it comes to business incubators in Africa, the idea and conception of an entity like this is no different than the ones that exist in the rest of the world. In the past couple of years, the growth of the startup ecosystem in Africa has been very significant and positive. Every year more and more startups are receiving benefits, training and business support by new or existing incubators that are also working hard to improve the entrepreneurial possibilities for African startups and its founders. According to information given by the World Bank, and contrary to what any person from other continents would imagine, Africa has over 90 tech hubs which are currently responsible for the growth and development of new startups in this continent. Incubators are considered to be the right ingredient to increase the number not only entrepreneurial projects but also the growth of employment possibilities in Africa. Among these 90 incubators there are 3 types of hubs that can be classified as Technology Labs, For-profit incubator and Non-profit incubators.
The first category are the Technology Labs. These are commonly known as co-working or shared open spaces for companies that are looking for business assistance and proper technology infrastructure for early stage development.
The second ones are For-profit incubators which are focused on high potential entrepreneurs that are willing to be accelerated in a three month program. Instead of working on their own terms, startups will have to do their very best if they want to receive the seed funding, the advisory and the access to a very promising network for additional funding. There is only space for about 12 startups per year in these type of incubators
And last but not least, Non-profit incubators are those who offer something like a two year training program while offering jobs at their offices somewhere else, in order to give these non-tech people a chance to be closer and learn from a more advanced tech world. They are also called non-profit-corporate incubators. The training they offer will take place before startups can even be incubated. It is a long program but it is worth it.
Here is a list of the most attractive startups incubators in Africa.
Previously named Limbe Labs Ventures, ActivSpaces was founded in 2010. It offers open collaboration spaces and technological facilities for techies in Africa. It attracts business coaches and mentors through a fellowship program built especially for startups to take advantage of what is has to offer them.
Also founded in 2010. Afrilabs works based on a network that helps increase the visibility of other fellow techlabs. It promotes the development and growth for emerging tech labs.
Botswana Innovation Hub
It was founded in 2006 in Gaborone, Botswana. It offers interesting facilities for companies that are tech oriented and knowledge based programs for startups to be able to be part of the Global market.
CTIC Dakar is one of the most important incubators in Senegal due to the fact that it is one of the first financially sustainable incubator. One of its priorities is to increase the presence of the IT and mobile companies that it supports all around West Africa.
Founded in Cameroon in 2010, this incubator has a pre-business creation training to be offered to new startups, plus a center where collaborative business innovation is offered along with venture idea formation.
It is an open space located in the industrial area of Nairobi, where investors and startups can get together in a collaborative environment, supporting each other by sharing innovative journeys and connecting the opportunities that can be identified between them, while they are working together.
It is a facility where startups and entrepreneurs can get professional advice and consultancy in order to improve their business. They share amenities such as kitchen supplies, coffee, lockers, internet connection and social spaces like a lounge and a patio where creative projects are being developed and shared among the community.