Sophia Business Angels, VC4A & the World Bank Group Hold the First African Venture Academy for L’Afrique Excelle


Sophia Business Angels, VC4A & the World Bank Group present 3 Workshops and deploy the SBA’s International Venture Academy signature format for L’Afrique Excelle’s cohort at thecamp, Aix-en-Provence, on May 12-13th

L’Afrique Excelle is the Francophone edition of XL Africa, a post-accelerator program focused on supporting growth stage tech startups. The program is powered by the World Bank Group and the Tubaniso Agribusiness and Innovation Centre with financial support from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and managed by VC4A, Suguba and SahelInnov.

SBA organised the first African Venture Academy at thecamp, Aix-en-Provence, with a cohort of 10 of the most promising Francophone African tech startups, selected to participate in L’Afrique Excelle’s second residency in France. This was ahead of and in preparation for the same cohort taking part in the final Venture Showcase at Afrobytes and VivaTech in Paris, May 15th and 16th.

The 10 teams represented 11 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo), and 10 domains (Adtech, Media, API, Connectivity, Fintech, Healthtech, Logistics, SaaS, Solar and Transport).

The six-month L’Afrique Excelle program offers participants access to funding, networks, mentoring and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. It kicked off in March with 20 Francophone Africa-focused tech startups gathering at a one-week residency in Bamako, Mali. All of them generate revenue and are aiming to raise between $250k and $5m in funding.

The International Venture Academy at thecamp gathered International Serial Entrepreneurs and Business Angels who spent several hours coaching the startups, after the first round of pitches, to help them improve their presentations and prepare for the final showcase in Paris.

The coaching session was followed by the second round of pitches, where the selection committee assessed the reworked presentations of the startups. The day concluded with an award ceremony where the SBA recognized 4 companies in the following categories:

– The Best Presentation: Solaris Offgrid

– The Michael Rogosin Prize for the Best Team: StarNews Mobile

– The Most Improved Presentation: Paps

– The Most Investible Company: Eyone

The SBA and L’Afrique Excelle were honoured to have four exceptional speakers to share their vast experience and knowledge with the entrepreneurs:

– Jean-Louis Brelet, investor, France Angels Board member, SBA President Emeritus, introducing the profile of a Business Angel and the early-stage investment market in France and beyond;

– Guy Fleury, investor, member of Arts et Métiers Business Angels, who shared his experience as a Business Angel;

– Isadora Bigourdan, from AFD, introducing the early-stage investment landscape in France;

– Marcel Dridje, SBA President and EBAN board member, who gave a quick overview of angel investing in Europe and introduced the European Business Angels Network (EBAN).

Marcel Dridje, President of SBA, concluded the day stating: “Each participant in this Venture Academy is a winner because all entrepreneurs benefit from coaching and exposure to serial entrepreneurs and business angels who get a chance to look at a very qualified Deal Flow.” Additionally, the SBA offered to open their European wide network to these entrepreneurs from the L’Afrique Excelle program.

Alina Vinogradova, Head of Programs and Partnerships at VC4A and Program Manager L’Afrique Excelle, commented: “L’Afrique Excelle is extremely pleased with our partnership with SBA who delivered great content and facilitated precious exposure of our cohort to the angel investor community in the South of France. And we were delighted to receive the SBA delegation at our final showcase at VivaTech!

The 10 most promising Francophone African tech start-ups selected for L’Afrique Excelle:

Company Website Sector Markets
Diool Fintech Cameroon
Eyone Healthtech Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger
Firefly Media Adtech Senegal
GiftedMom Healthtech Cameroon, Ivory Coast
LAfricaMobile Connectivity, SaaS, API Senegal, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso
Paps Logistics Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast
Solaris Offgrid Fintech, SaaS, Solar Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cameroon, Rwanda
StarNews Mobile Media Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast
Sudpay Fintech Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Guinea
Tripafrique Transport Ivory Coast