FAQs

We work with early-stage tech start-ups across Africa 

Do you only back African start-ups? 

Yes, we don’t mind if your target market is outside the continent, as long as you are based in Africa and are led and run by an African team.

Do we have to be incorporated in Africa? 

No, we understand that incorporating in other jurisdictions, such as the US, may be more favourable for investors, you just need to have a presence in Africa.

Can we apply with just an idea? 

We prefer to see start-ups that have built a minimum viable product (MVP) and have some early traction. If you are at the idea stage, you should at least have validated market demand for the product or service. The validation can be in the form of sign-ups from users, a client waiting list that can be verified, offline purchases and other types of evidence confirming that customers are willing to pay for your product. 

Do we have to be already incorporated as a company? 

No, we can help with the incorporation process.

We have been operational for a while now, would you still consider us early stage?

We understand that it may take time to figure out your product and/or market, what we’d want to see is a business model that has the potential to scale rapidly and achieve strong returns. We also typically prefer being the first investor after family and friends.

Do you only work with start-ups that build software? 

No, we will consider any start-up that uses technology to solve crucial problems around them. We are open to other tech-enabled solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as using other existing technology tools to create efficiencies. 

Do you focus on any specific sectors?

We are mostly sector agnostic with a preference for sectors that have the potential to create impact i.e. we would unlikely invest in sectors such as gambling, alcohol etc. 

Are non-profit organizations eligible for the accelerator programme? 

Unfortunately not, we only work with for-profit organisations. 

Do you work with solo founders? 

Yes, we generally prefer teams to solo founders but are still open to applications from those who don’t have co-founders.

We don’t have a technical founder but our solution works, is this okay? 

It’s important to have the ability to build your product in-house and we would want to see this. Having a technical founder is not mandatory but we like to work with a founding team that has the relevant experience and knowledge in their respective field/sector.

We build custom software and websites for companies, can we apply? 

At the moment, we can only back tech or tech-creating or tech-enabled businesses with the potential to scale. This would usually not include agencies that provide custom website/app development or digital marketing services.

How do you assess start-ups? 

We consider the following questions internally when assessing whether we will accept a start-up into our programme: 

Team

Market knowledge and domain expertise: does the founding team have a deep understanding of the market they are operating in? Are they aware of customer behavior and trends? 

Ability to execute: can the team hit the ground running and get things done? 

Grit: building a company is not easy, does the team have the passion and focus to get through the hard times? 

Team dynamic: are the founders intentional about building a great culture that can attract top talent and enable employees to feel engaged, motivated and empowered to grow? 

Purpose-driven: does the team have a clear vision of the kind of impact they’d want to make?  

Business model

Revenue generation: has the start-up clearly identified their revenue streams; both today and in the future? 

Traction: is the product uptake promising? Are the business key metrics (such as user sign up, GMV etc) growing? 

Scalability: can the start-up replicate their success in other geographical or vertical markets? 

Unit economics: is the business financially sustainable; i.e. profitable or have a clear path to profitability? 

Product 

Simplicity: is the product intuitive to its users? Does the product clearly solve a problem and is this obvious to users? 

Clear roadmap: is the team aware of what they need to improve and the features/offerings that they’d want to add? 

Data-driven: is the team proactive in collecting customer feedback and updating their features/offerings based on the data that is available to them?  

Market opportunity 

Market size: is the available and obtainable market significant and growing?

Market trends: What are some key trends that would favour the start-up? What are the risks in this market and how is the team hedging against them? 

Competitive landscape: who are the other key players in the market? How is the start-up uniquely positioned when compared to these players? 

Baobab Factor

Fit: are we excited to work with the start-up and team? Do we think the start-up will be a good addition to our network? 

Timing: Is this the right time for us to engage with the start-up? 

Can I talk to someone in the team and see if my application is okay? 

We receive thousands of applications and unfortunately don’t have the capacity to provide feedback before receiving your application. If you meet the eligibility criteria, we highly encourage you to apply. You can use the above questions as guidelines to strengthen your application. We try our best to provide feedback during the shortlisting process.

What language can I apply with? 

Please feel free to apply in English or French.

What time of the year should I apply to the programme? 

You can apply at any time of the year as we review applications on a rolling basis

I don’t have some of the information that you require in the application form, can I still complete my application? 

Most of the information we require is really useful for us when considering your application. The more of the application form you can complete the better since this will help our application process, a completed form will make the strongest application. However, if things are in working progress, let us know in the form.

How long does the process take between applying and getting potential funding? 

We accept applications on a rolling basis, so there are no set timeframes. The process can take anywhere between 4 weeks and 6 months depending on the stage of the start-up.

Do you take equity in the start-ups that you work with?

We take 10% equity in each start-up in exchange for the support and services offered throughout our acceleration programme along with the $25,000 USD investment.

Are your terms negotiable? 

We have a standard deal for every start-up that we accept into the programme.

Do you disburse your funding in tranches? 

We inject the $25,000 USD funding into each start-up in one lump sum at the beginning of the accelerator programme.

When does the accelerator start? 

There is no set start date for the accelerator. We design a bespoke programme for each start-up and accept businesses on a rolling basis all year round.

Where is the accelerator programme based? 

Each accelerator programme starts with a week of intensive consulting from The Baobab Network. This is done with the team in person, wherever the start-up is based. The programme is largely remote to ensure founders are not taken away from their businesses for extended periods of time. 

What is a venture partner?

Each start-up is assigned a dedicated Baobab Venture Partner for 24 months. Venture Partners are responsible for building out each start-up’s bespoke acceleration programme. They work remotely to provide strategic advice and hands-on support. The Venture Partner will help leverage the skills and experience of the wider Baobab Network team and our global network of corporate and investment partners. They are on hand throughout the 24 month period to help each portfolio company to scale.

Do you take a seat on the board of start-ups you work with? 

No, we don’t. We provide as much advice and support as we can but at the end of the day, we trust that founders are best placed to steer their companies. 

What’s the eligibility criteria?


We work with early-stage tech start-ups across Africa 

Do you only back African start-ups? 

Yes, we don’t mind if your target market is outside the continent, as long as you are based in Africa and are led and run by an African team.

Do we have to be incorporated in Africa? 

No, we understand that incorporating in other jurisdictions, such as the US, may be more favourable for investors, you just need to have a presence in Africa.

Can we apply with just an idea? 

We prefer to see start-ups that have built a minimum viable product (MVP) and have some early traction. If you are at the idea stage, you should at least have validated market demand for the product or service. The validation can be in the form of sign-ups from users, a client waiting list that can be verified, offline purchases and other types of evidence confirming that customers are willing to pay for your product. 

Do we have to be already incorporated as a company? 

No, we can help with the incorporation process.

We have been operational for a while now, would you still consider us early stage?

We understand that it may take time to figure out your product and/or market, what we’d want to see is a business model that has the potential to scale rapidly and achieve strong returns. We also typically prefer being the first investor after family and friends.

Do you only work with start-ups that build software? 

No, we will consider any start-up that uses technology to solve crucial problems around them. We are open to other tech-enabled solutions such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as using other existing technology tools to create efficiencies. 

Do you focus on any specific sectors?

We are mostly sector agnostic with a preference for sectors that have the potential to create impact i.e. we would unlikely invest in sectors such as gambling, alcohol etc. 

Are non-profit organizations eligible for the accelerator programme? 

Unfortunately not, we only work with for-profit organisations. 

Do you work with solo founders? 

Yes, we generally prefer teams to solo founders but are still open to applications from those who don’t have co-founders.

We don’t have a technical founder but our solution works, is this okay? 

It’s important to have the ability to build your product in-house and we would want to see this. Having a technical founder is not mandatory but we like to work with a founding team that has the relevant experience and knowledge in their respective field/sector.

We build custom software and websites for companies, can we apply? 

At the moment, we can only back tech-creating or tech-enabled businesses with the potential to scale. This would usually not include agencies that provide custom website/app development or digital marketing services.

What makes a strong application?


How do you assess start-ups? 

We consider the following questions internally when assessing whether we will accept a start-up into our programme: 

Team

Market knowledge and domain expertise: does the founding team have a deep understanding of the market they are operating in? Are they aware of customer behavior and trends? 

Ability to execute: can the team hit the ground running and get things done? 

Grit: building a company is not easy, does the team have the passion and focus to get through the hard times? 

Team dynamic: are the founders intentional about building a great culture that can attract top talent and enable employees to feel engaged, motivated and empowered to grow? 

Purpose-driven: does the team have a clear vision of the kind of impact they’d want to make?  

Business model

Revenue generation: has the start-up clearly identified their revenue streams; both today and in the future? 

Traction: is the product uptake promising? Are the business key metrics (such as user sign up, GMV etc) growing? 

Scalability: can the start-up replicate their success in other geographical or vertical markets? 

Unit economics: is the business financially sustainable; i.e. profitable or have a clear path to profitability? 

Product 

Simplicity: is the product intuitive to its users? Does the product clearly solve a problem and is this obvious to users? 

Clear roadmap: is the team aware of what they need to improve and the features/offerings that they’d want to add? 

Data-driven: is the team proactive in collecting customer feedback and updating their features/offerings based on the data that is available to them?  

Market opportunity 

Market size: is the available and obtainable market significant and growing?

Market trends: What are some key trends that would favour the start-up? What are the risks in this market and how is the team hedging against them? 

Competitive landscape: who are the other key players in the market? How is the start-up uniquely positioned when compared to these players? 

Baobab Factor

Fit: are we excited to work with the start-up and team? Do we think the start-up will be a good addition to our network? 

Timing: Is this the right time for us to engage with the start-up? 

Can I talk to someone in the team and see if my application is okay? 

We receive thousands of applications and unfortunately don’t have the capacity to provide feedback before receiving your application. If you meet the eligibility criteria, we highly encourage you to apply. You can use the above questions as guidelines to strengthen your application. We try our best to provide feedback during the shortlisting process.

How does your application process work?


What language can I apply with? 

Please feel free to apply in English or French.

What time of the year should I apply to the programme? 

You can apply at any time of the year as we review applications on a rolling basis

I don’t have some of the information that you require in the application form, can I still complete my application? 

Most of the information we require is really useful for us when considering your application. The more of the application form you can complete the better since this will help our application process, a completed form will make the strongest application. However, if things are in working progress, let us know in the form. 

How long does the process take between applying and getting potential funding? 

We accept applications on a rolling basis, so there are no set timeframes. The process can take anywhere between 4 weeks and 6 months depending on the stage of the start-up.

What are your terms and conditions?


Do you take equity in the start-ups that you work with?

We take 10% equity in each start-up in exchange for the support and services offered throughout our acceleration programme along with the $25,000 investment.

Are your terms negotiable? 

We have a standard deal for every start-up that we accept into the programme.

Do you disburse your funding in tranches? 

We inject the $25,000 funding into each start-up in one lump sum at the beginning of the accelerator programme.

How does the accelerator programme work?


When does the accelerator start? 

There is no set start date for the accelerator. We design a bespoke programme for each start-up and accept businesses on a rolling basis all year round.

Where is the accelerator programme based? 

Each accelerator programme starts with a week of intensive consulting from The Baobab Network. This is done with the team in person, wherever the start-up is based. The programme is largely remote to ensure founders are not taken away from their businesses for extended periods of time. 

What is a venture partner?

Each start-up is assigned a dedicated Baobab Venture Partner for 24 months. Venture Partners are responsible for building out each start-up’s bespoke acceleration programme. They work remotely to provide strategic advice and hands-on support. The Venture Partner will help leverage the skills and experience of the wider Baobab Network team and our global network of corporate and investment partners. They are on hand throughout the 24 month period to help each portfolio company to scale.

Do you take a seat on the board of start-ups you work with? 

No, we don’t. We provide as much advice and support as we can but at the end of the day, we trust that founders are best placed to steer their companies.