Joint Collaboration in the Early Stage Space in North Africa


Joint Collaboration in the Early Stage Space in North Africa


The IFC’s Startup Catalyst and the EBRD’s Star Venture programs actively support the early stage space in a number of different regions. A pilot in North Africa to coordinate these two complementary programs is aiming to mobilize a broader range of capabilities to early stage companies and accelerators. This collaborative project has been actively encouraged by the Alliance, and in particular is a critical outcome from an Alliance stand-alone event held on 20 March 2023 in Cairo, on supporting start-ups in Africa.

Project Details

The IFC’s Startup Catalyst is a platform designed to invest in incubators, accelerators, and seed funds. The Catalyst targets innovative early stage start-ups in emerging markets and mobilizes essential seed financing.

The EBRD’s Star Venture program mobilizes a range of technical support to high potential start-ups, including world-class business diagnostics, a large pool of global mentors and local and international advisory services.

Both programs focus on innovative, fast-growing companies, mainly operating in the tech sector and/or using tech-enabled business models, and share the objective of supporting innovation, creating jobs and developing the ecosystem for early stage companies. This applies especially to companies trying to solve pressing challenges, like climate change, access to finance, healthcare, and education.

Both programs operate directly with start-ups, as well as with accelerators, incubators and funds, and are both highly-active in the start-up ecosystem of North Africa. There is growing recognition that finance and know-how are two critical components needed to support and promote fast growing early stage companies, and will be made more readily available through this collaboration.

A pilot phase will aim to select one country in north Africa, identify partners and mobilize in a coordinated manner. Once the pilot confirms the benefits of this approach, then other countries will be targeted in the region.

Anticipated Impact

The early stage space in many countries is made up of numerous players operating independently of one another. By joining forces and increasing their collaboration, the EBRD and IFC will achieve a greater impact:

  1. Comprehensive, integrated support to selected start-ups, resulting in reaching commercial sustainability more rapidly and more successfully.
  2. Helping start-ups get to this stage will mobilize additional venture and institutional capital in subsequent rounds, and benefit from EBRD and IFC’s convening power.
  3. The concentration of the institutional work will lend more weight to addressing ecosystem challenges that frequently exist.
Support/Partnership Required

In addition to the immediate collaboration between IFC and EBRD, the proposal welcomes other Alliance members to contribute with their activities and know-how in the early stage space, through:

  • Systematic pipeline sharing and referrals in the early stage space
  • The creation of an AforE Working Group dedicated to the early stage ecosystem, in which private sector actors (accelerators, fund managers, researchers) take place alongside DFIs