The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched the Timbuktoo Fund, a one-billion-dollar innovation fund designed to support African startups. Announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the fund has already received a boost of $3 million from Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The ambitious plan aims to mobilize and invest the targeted $1 billion to foster the growth and development of entrepreneurial ventures across the African continent.
“Timbuktoo represents a new model of development. We are bringing together key stakeholders to address multiple challenges simultaneously, ranging from startup-friendly legislation and world-class startup development to mitigating investment risks. Through initiatives like UniPods – University Innovation Pods – spread across Africa, we aim to bridge crucial gaps and bolster the startup ecosystem. This will facilitate the growth of innovations to benefit people in Africa and beyond,” stated UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
According to UNDP, Africa’s share of the global startup value currently stands at only 0.2 percent, in contrast to 2 percent of global trade value. The majority, 89 percent, of venture capital flowing into Africa is foreign, and 83 percent is concentrated in four countries: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, with more than 60 percent of capital directed towards the fintech sector.
Timbuktoo seeks to catalyze a revolution by supporting startups in eight key African cities: Lagos, Cairo, Kigali, Nairobi, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dakar, and Ghana. Each hub, managed privately, will concentrate on a specific industry such as Healthtech, Fintech, Agritech, Greentech, Creatives, Tradetech and Logistics, Smart Cities and Mobility, or Tourismtech.
This focused approach, combined with a “blended capital” model that incorporates both commercial and catalytic funds, aims to reduce private investment risks and foster a comprehensive startup ecosystem.
Timbuktoo’s ambition is to mobilize and invest US$ 1 billion of catalytic and commercial capital to transform 100 million livelihoods and create 10 million dignified new jobs.