Fast Tracking Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa
Program in a Nutshell
- Building Skills and Training
- Policy Dialogue
- Institutional Building and Support to Institutions
- Global Affairs Canada
- Irish Aid
- MFA Denmark
- MFA Finland
- MFA Netherlands
- Royal Norwegian MFA
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Yes! I want to learn more about how this program could help my business, organization, country or region.
The digital economy offers opportunities at scale to generate jobs, contribute to economic growth and productivity gains. Digital entrepreneurship will accelerate the digital transformation of Africa, which will be a key driver for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It can also help address the growing digital gender gap and digital entrepreneurship is particularly favourable to youths. At the same time, there are still many challenges preventing the tech sector to contribute to its full potential to growth and development, in particular in the areas of regulation, business support, technical and business skills as well as international linkages.
The “Fast Tracking Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa” project (#FastTrackTech in Africa) aims to support digital entrepreneurs and tech startups in sub-Saharan Africa with online and onsite training, advisory and coaching focused on building digital and business skills as well as domestic, regional & international business generation and investment promotion. The project also engages with business support organizations and governments to foster local tech ecosystems.
The two-year project started in October 2019 supporting 7 countries: Benin, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. In 2022, the project continued in Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia under ITC’s SwitchON initiative, with the other four countries seeing continued support under the Netherlands Trust Fund V FastTrackTech multi-country project.
The International Trade Centre’s Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) is a four-year partnership (July 2021 – June 2025) signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors.
The programme includes both sectors in Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal; and the digital technologies sector in a multi-country project in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Uganda. NTF V follows on the successful NTF IV and NTF III programmes and will track its results through real-time customer relationship management and active risk management data systems.
In the digital technology sector, we are focusing on business-friendly tech ecosystems and tech hubs, offering tech start-ups (with a focus on agri-tech) and MSMEs resilient business models, linking them to national and international business and investment opportunities, and digitalizing traditional MSMEs.
We support IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies with export strategies, B2B matchmaking events and regional and international IT event exposure. We also aim to contribute to ICT and entrepreneurship-related policies to improve the tech ecosystem.
Building Skills and Training
With partners and through tech hubs, NTF V, applying the #FastTrackTech methodology, supports emerging entrepreneurs in the digital space through training, coaching and market validation, with an emphasis on equal opportunity for women and youth. We use ITC’s FastTrackTech 360Diagnostics tools and work in partnership with existing platforms such as VC4A and Crunchbase.
The project supports innovative entrepreneurs to formalize their business and provide customized support to growth-stage startups. We use segmentation & a funnel approach to optimize startup support (ideation, entrepreneurship, growth). At the level if the IT & BPO MSMEs, extensive support is provided towards the export marketing plans and strategies of the companies.
At the level of next-generation trade support institutions, in particular tech hubs, we build sustainable business support organisations. Institutional development is a crucial priority to ensure sustainability and a multiplier effect under this project. Key tech hubs in each country are supported with capacity building. We will provide online & on-site toolkits to address the sustainability issue faced by many tech-hubs. We also connect them to networks in view of producing and sharing content and knowledge with their members.
One of the most important elements of a thriving tech-sector ecosystem is conducive government policy and public sector involvement. ITC brings stakeholders from the public and private sectors into conversation, along with aspiring entrepreneurs. This facilitates an essential dialogue between tech-sector actors to help develop the most conducive and supportive policy environment for digital entrepreneurship. Building on our strong connections with the public sector, we also partner with governments to turn the public sector into a potential major market for digital solutions and services.
Institutional Building and Support to Institutions
Beyond fundraising, tech startups need to grow their businesses and one of the most effective ways to do it is through B2B meetings, both at trade fairs and bilaterally. ITC combines a domestic, regional and international focus when organizing meetings and facilitating entrepreneurs’ participation in important trade fairs. The project provides platforms for start-ups to showcase innovations and connect them with investors and potential clients.
Moreover, partnerships will offer significant leveraging opportunities, in particular from the point of view of corporate acceleration, enabling the co-creation of new digital businesses and scaling existing ones. ITC also supports start-ups to attend pitching events and facilitates introductions to partner venture capital firms where relevant.
ITC partners with the Netherlands to support African business
ITC’s NTF V programme is designed to contribute to decent jobs and improved livelihoods in the agribusiness, agritech and digital technology sectors. To that end, we aim to:
- Increase the competitiveness of thousands of MSMEs
- Increase sales of supported companies to hit $90 million
- Support thousands of jobs and positively impact more than 200,000 people as a result
- Bring in-kind contributions to create an additional 50% of project value
#FastTrackTech Africa achievements in 2021
- 2103Digital entrepreneurs trainedincluding 665 women and 1599 youth6.8 $MTotal investment raised by start-ups866 $KBusiness deals thanks to the project83Start-ups improved their business strategy3Tech hubs strengthened1Tech ecosystem mapped in Tanzania2Tech-hub umbrella consortia established
LinkedIn Showcase Page: Tech Entrepreneurship in Africa
Stay up to date on tech entrepreneurship news in Africa, read about company success stories, tech event attendance, and more on our LinkedIn Showcase Page: Tech Entrepreneurship in Africa.
This LinkedIn page of the Netherlands Trust Fund V project & #FastTrackTech Africa project aims at creating a supportive environment for tech start-ups and enterprises in the IT and ITES sectors in sub–Saharan Africa.
Click here to read the Impact Stories of 11 African tech start-ups in which the founders speak about the impact their business had on their society in the past few years.
Publications & Reports
National agencies or bodies
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
- Irish Aid, Government of Ireland
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
- Global Affairs Canada
- Royal Norwegian ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Swedish International development Cooperation Agency