What is LIONS@FRICA?
Over the last decade, sub-Saharan Africa has transformed into a hub of technology growth and development. Consider the facts: Internet usage in Africa has grown faster than any other continent over the past decade. Mobile subscriptions now number over 700 million. Major innovation hubs have been established across the continent and countries are vying to become the “Silicon Valley” or “Silicon Safari” of Africa. Bolstering this growing interest in Africa’s tech sector is a burgeoning class of innovators launching innovative, new startups that are launching real-world solutions to real business and development challenges.
Despite the positive outlook and increasing global interest in Africa’s technology sector, entrepreneurs looking to grow their small and growing businesses still face significant challenges in reaching scale. For many, the biggest barrier to growth is the lack of access to the appropriate resources. In short, there isn’t enough capital, business development support, local support, or international support working to support the needs of these burgeoning ventures.
Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations (LIONS@FRICA) is an innovative partnership that seeks to mobilize the knowledge, expertise and resources of leading public and private institutions to encourage and enhance Africa’s innovation ecosystem and to spur entrepreneurship by investing in the 4C’s: Capacity-building, access to Capital, enhanced Connectivity to global markets, and Credibility by raising awareness of Africa’s innovation potential.
Launched at the 2012 World Economic Forum on Africa, the partnership is on track to achieve its ambitious goal to support 100,000 entrepreneurs as they launch and expand technology-based businesses by 2020.
Founding partners of the partnership include: the U.S. State Department, Global Entrepreneurship Week, Microsoft, Venture Capital for Africa, Nokia, InfoDEV, African Development Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, DEMO, Startup Weekend, Appfrica, Business Action for Africa, Business Fights Poverty, and Venture Hive.