Well, we know mothers have one or few natures in common, but at most we know they bear kids, feed the kids, nature them, see how they fair in life while you guide still. So hubs in the startup and accelerators world serve the same purpose, it’s quite a rare thing to hear a startup by self just made it itself to the top unless its ghost funded or it’s already lucrative from born.
Most of the time we only take time to appreciate the startups and the accelerators for the effort they are doing and we end up forgetting that hubs are playing a major role in the startup ecosystem all over the world, Africa having an approximate of 314 active hubs in 42 countries with 60% of them running also as incubators and accelerators 12% just as co-working spaces and the other 28% Tech hubs.
Hubs and accelerators in Africa run on a different model compare to the ones in the west, yes this maybe because of cultural reasons, funding model schemes, numbers of invest-able startups and many more. One of the major noted things we scribbled down for the last year since we began, many startups crave the y-combinator, man! yes the accelerator is much of a big deal we agree, but what really happens to our home made accelerators and hubs? We came a cross a report from the Economist which really matched up with our thoughts on hubs.
The first victim of the report happened to be I Hub, yes one of the greatest hubs in east Africa, launched in 2010, the home of Kenyan innovation and Tech space which has given birth to over 150 startupss . Recently they launched I hub 2.0, a new business model that hasn’t picked up yet after moving their locations to a bigger and better co-working space, Okay, so the new business model brings into questions a lot of things, why the change? is it that the hubs are not a profitable business ( despite receiving the funding rounds ) ? is it that the startups need a better nurturing ( which is rarely not the case since Kenya produces less startups that hit the Tech scenes compared to other countries in Africa ). Then we have Hypercube form Zimbabwe which closed in 2015 after running in office for two years, this still brings us back to the drawing board , what do we lack for the hubs and accelerators in Africa, These are the backbones of the ecosystem let alone the startups that we all go and hype about and later turn to be based in away countries and born in Africa, so Ironic of the state.
Then came 88mph which was dormant for 2 good years after successfully funding 36 startups in South Africa and Kenya between 2011 and 2014, 88mph came back this year, not only did we no its was a dead end for pre-mature startups funding rounds, ( but why ? ) , back to the drawing board, could the 36 startups which were funded have no profit at all? and what happened to the startups after they received the funding and after the incubation phase ?, 88mph stated this year in quotes, ” Going forward we only look at startups who are slightly later stage as we don’t have the time resources necessary to invest in very early stage startups at this point.” . This statement left early age startups, who would go into the 88mph acceleration programme on a big ditch, and again remember this is a major setback in our ecosystem as Techies in Africa.
Quoting from the Economist ” incubators have disappointed because they are a supply-side solution: there are still too few promising startups in need of their services. Many of the best entrepreneurs have already left for other places.” said Nicolas Friederici of Oxford University.
Basing on Google’s Entrepreneur news, 5 hubs in Africa have been funded by Google, of which this means they are provided with technical trainings, mentoring, business tools and financial sponsorship, so that they can serve our growing startup ecosystems. ccHub: Lagos, Nigeria, Jozihub: Johannesburg, South Africa, iHub: Nairobi, Kenya, iSpaces: Accra, Ghana, Outbox: Kampala, Uganda. Not the bold part of our phrase, serve our growing startup ecosystems: this a major statement quoted and out of the stated hubs only a few make news of nurturing the startups better, Jozihub and Cchub, play a major role in their ecosystems.
With a good sprout of Hubs basing on Afrilabs, which is a network of over 50 hubs in Africa. we Really hope the coordination brought together will create a good impact for we really cant see a good amount of support from our backbone.
Ihub, Bongohive and CChub seem also to top the charts in wanting to become self-funded hubs in Africa. We have not really seen much impact from the hubs and we would really love to urge the hubs to partner and run on great accelerators for the startups to grow and also for the startups as much as the west is lucrative we can lure them here. Let hub not replicate the West but instead let’s create us.