Afrilabs Links Entrepreneurs, Startups, Tech Communities in Africa

A new network will focus on connecting young entrepreneurs, web and mobile-phone programmers, designers, and investors.



Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi, today announced the launch of a
network of startup incubators and tech communities throughout Africa. Dubbing the new venture Afrilabs, the network is meant to connect a
thriving scene of tech entrepreneurs involved in such outfits as iHub in Kenya,
Hive Colab in Uganda, ActivSpaces in Cameroon, Nailab in Kenya, and
Banta Labs in Senegal. In addition to integrating incubators throughout the continent, Hersman and his colleagues are also in the process of starting an investment fund for seed capital investments “that are accessible to startups that come through the different labs,” Hersman tells Fast Company.

“The association is for linking the spaces for learning, growth, and
to provide greater mass for the entrepreneurs that we work with,” says
Hersman. Afrilabs will focus on connecting young
entrepreneurs, web and mobile-phone programmers, designers, and


Technology-focused startup incubators are now found throughout the
developing world
, but Afrilabs takes the idea a step further by
creating formalized links between the incubators, rather than leaving
them to function in isolation. While incubators in themselves leverage
the resources of external institutions–such as universities, corporate
mentors, and government agencies–linking the incubators means that
each incubator also benefits from the resources beyond national
borders, creating a fortress-like web of connections, support, and

“My take is that we’ll end up having as many models as the unique city
cultures that spawn them, mixed in with the ethos of the founders,”
said Hersman.


Afrilabs looks poised to grow a whole new batch of startups and they’re already looking to expand their members–while the above named are the founding five incubators, “It’s open to other labs and hubs and we need them to get in contact so we can get them plugged in,” says Hersman.

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[Photos by Taylor Martyn]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.