Google’s $4 million black-founders fund open to startups in Africa and Europe

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Applications for the third cohort of Google’s Black Founders Fund for Startups  are currently open in Africa and Europe with just a few days left to apply. In line with its commitment to digital transformation and support to black-founded startups, Google has committed $4 million to support  eligible black-founded startups.

“Startups are a critical driver of innovation, economic growth and social progress, especially in Africa and the support that the selected startups will receive will go a long way to unlock the potential and promote growth in the African tech ecosystem and the next generation of African tech entrepreneurs. We encourage all eligible startups to apply,” says Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of startup ecosystem, Google Sub-Saharan Africa.

Selected startups will receive up to $150,000 equity-free cash awards and up to $200,000 per startup in Google Cloud credits, support in the form of training, and access to a network of mentors to assist in tackling the challenges unique to each startup. 

Startups operating and headquartered in Africa or having a legal presence on the continent are eligible to apply for the Black Founders Fund. Other eligibility criteria for startups that wish to apply are that the business should be benefiting the black community or that early-stage startups have black founders or diverse founding teams. The startups should be building for Africa and the global market, have the growth potential to raise more funding, create jobs and generally be making measurable impact.

The applications for the third cohort will close on 26 March, 2023 and can be completed by visiting https://goo.gle/ApplyforBFFAfrica.

2. AI and Machine learning for children, women and girls 

It’s valuable to reflect on the position that women – representing over half of  the South African population – are in, in the workforce. It has been said that the world of work across the continent of Africa is very dominated by men, and women’s economic roles tend to be relegated to the lower levels of employment opportunities. In fact, “The sectors in which wages are highest are generally dominated by men, and few women hold managerial or decision-making positions.” 

The tech sector is one characterised by male-dominance. For example, in South Africa just 23% of tech jobs are held by women. And, with a world moving very quickly to one in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) affect our daily lives, there is a risk that women will become increasingly isolated from  involvement in how these tools can be used in ways that can bring positive benefits.  

Heloise Greeff, the first Female Elite Pro Popular Investor on the social trading platform eToro, believes that there is a pressing need for more women and girls to embrace AI and ML.

There are a host of free online tools that any parent with an internet connection can look to for AI and machine learning tools specifically for children and adults. These include, Machine Learning for Kids, The School of Code and a host of others. Some classes are offered for children as young as 4 years old and adults of any age, and are in fun, challenging, game oriented formats making them simultaneously enjoyable and educational.

Greeff explains that, “Parents should encourage their daughters to play around with technology and to become involved in STEM subjects. Education in the sciences and technology should start from an early age through outreach programmes at school. And, when a girl shows an interest, mentorship and sponsorship are critical to helping with career progression.

The Hustle Academy:

Google’s Hustle Academy is a bootcamp-style training program designed to help entrepreneurs increase revenue, position themselves for investment, and build sustainable businesses for the future. As part of its International Women’s Day celebrations, Google plans to host six women-focused cohorts of the Hustle Academy program in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa throughout the month of March. Women entrepreneurs in these countries are invited to apply to join these cohorts at g.co/hustleacademy.

And if you aren’t able to partake in the International Women’s Month cohort, this week -long bootcamp is run regularly throughout the year.

Salesforce Trailblazer Training Week 

Salesforce and Deloitte Africa have joined forces to address skills development in South Africa – an issue of high priority for both these global brands, through the Trailblazer Training Week. 

The inaugural event is set to take place in Johannesburg at the end of March and represents a flagship learning event for the Salesforce community in South Africa and a tenet of Salesforce’s larger talent development initiative in the country. 

The first of its kind in South Africa, the Trailblazer Training Week forms part of Salesforce’s comprehensive talent strategy, headed by Ursula Fear, Senior Talent Programme Manager at Salesforce South Africa, that includes Salesforce’s Accredited Training Partner and Workforce Development Partners, which seeks to bring more skill into the Salesforce ecosystem. 

The event offers five days of expert-led learning within five role-based tracks for individuals associated with Salesforce partners and customers with the purpose to build their relevance and equip them with fit-for-purpose skills. Upon successful completion of the specific track, attendees will receive onsite certification, or opt for a certification voucher, which is valid for six months. 

“As organisations transform digitally, it is imperative to ensure that the teams within these organisations are sufficiently equipped with the right skills for the job. The Trailblazer Training Week is one way in which Salesforce is addressing the skills challenge in South Africa, as we seek to ensure employees are prepared with the skills needed to thrive in the new, digitally transformed, world of work,” Fear says.