Growing sustainable and high-performing startups is an effort that requires the availability of resources. Many startups get the ball rolling without much in the way of resources, financial or otherwise, and this may affect how they perform. As the African startup scene continues to grow, there is a need to ensure that there are enough resources to support these startups and ensure their growth.
One of the most important resources that any startup can have is a founder network. Founder networks are an integral part of the greater startup ecosystem. The key areas that a founder network needs to cover are as follows:
- Mentorship – startup founders usually have a solid idea regarding the product or service that they want to build. However, they might not have the experience and knowledge that is needed to run a successful business. Founder networks provide these founders with the mentorship they need as they try to build and run a successful business.
- Networking – in any form of business, networking is a powerful tool that one can use to grow. Meeting the right like-minded individuals can be the difference between success and failure. African startup founders have a lot to benefit from regularly meeting with their industry peers who are building startups of their own.
- Funding – access to funding is one of the critical components of building a startup. Through founder networks, startups can gain access to investment funds that are availed to the founder network they belong to. When one is a member of a founder network, it becomes easier to be connected to investors that are looking for startups with the potential to put their money into it.
- Accelerator programs – when a startup is founded, it is normal that the founder might not have much in the way of experience or knowledge regarding how to scale up. Accelerator programs are there to assist with fine-tuning a product and scaling it. Founder networks may provide a founder with access to accelerator programs that can help during the initial stages of a startup’s development.
Founder networks in Africa
While there are several founder networks across Africa, we have picked what we think are some of the best for startup founders on the continent:
- Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology
MEST is based in Accra, Ghana. This network helps tech-based startups and their founders with access to mentorship, training, and investments. Since its inception in 2008, MEST has overseen 55 investments and 6 exits.
This program is based in Cape Town, South Africa. As Web3 and blockchain technology applications continue to move into the mainstream, this startup is playing an important role for startups that use blockchain tech. Founders who gain access to Startupbootcamp become a part of a 12-week accelerator program.
Grindstone is a network that supports highly innovative startups that have high growth potential. The demands of this network push founders to develop products that push the boundaries of product innovation. Based in South Africa and Egypt, Grindstone has seen 18 investments since its formation in 2013.
Startup founder networks are an important part of the greater startup ecosystem. They help founders with access to investment, mentorship, and networking. African founders can benefit from becoming a part of the founder network that has the resources they need to grow their businesses.