StartUP Africa

The StartUP Africa Story

StartUP Africa is a ground-breaking television series that documents the effort to bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world. This effort is led by young entrepreneurs, men and women, who are breaking stereotypes and building the future of Africa. The series celebrates and promotes diversity and the inclusion of sub-Saharan Africa being an integral and critical part of the future of the global tech industry.

StartUP Africa is a multi-season business-themed TV series, which tells the stories of the challenges, hopes and fears faced by young tech entrepreneurs in Africa as they develop their startup from just an idea to a profitable business. Developed the year before the COVID-19 global pandemic, StartUP Africa takes viewers along a journey with the entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya — through the stages of founding a tech company, acquiring funding from early investors to venture capitalists, participating in business incubators, the local startup scene, and Africa’s entrepreneurial connection to the center of the tech world in Silicon Valley. 

The series is produced as a co-production with the leading broadcast TV stations in Nigeria (Channels TV), Ghana (Citi TV), Rwanda (RBA), Uganda (NBS), and Kenya (KTN) giving it a unique and authentic view of the tech scene in Africa.

Silicon Valley and Africa
StartUP Africa’s mission is to be a culturally defining series that inspires a new generation of African entrepreneurs to dream and produce big — innovations, solutions, businesses and job creation for the continent of Africa and African Diaspora.

The StartUP Africa series is part of the Voice of America’s commitment to report on high technology from its roots in Silicon Valley to Africa, and around the world.

StartUP Africa season one is comprised of six episodes.
E-Pay - Season 1, Episode 1
This scene setter episode asks the questions, “What is a Startup?” and “What does ‘Starting Lean’ mean?” Through the lens of e-pay startups, episode one illustrates the problems that startups solve and the challenges of launching a new tech business.

Ride Share - Season 1, Episode 2
Through the challenges and victories of young African entrepreneurs, we learn how tech startups are launching ride sharing businesses to address the problems of traffic congestion, safety, and cost of travel.

Opportunity - Season 1, Episode 3
Tech startups create opportunities for Africans across the continent. From the workplace, to the educational and environmental ecosystems, we look at how tech startups change the way we learn, the way we do business and the way we live.

Farm to City - Season 1, Episode 4
From Agritech, to moving goods across the continent, to fulfilling the African energy needs, young entrepreneurs push beyond limitations set before them to create innovative ways of using technology to make a better world.

Health-Tech - Season 1, Episode 5
Solving some of the most challenging health problems of the African continent, health tech startups are addressing problems ranging from access to medical care, infant and maternal mortality and rapid diagnostics and consistent, convenient monitoring of critical health care needs.

Rise UP - Season 1, Episode 6
In the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, we follow up with CEOs featured throughout season one. They share how coronavirus impacted their businesses, how they adapted, and what opportunities arose as a result of the pandemic.

Season One -  Visionaries (6 episodes)
We meet entrepreneurs in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. We learn what problems their start ups solve, what challenges they face, and what’s at risk.  Through the stories of the entrepreneurs, the audience begins to see how, at no other time in world history has this much opportunity been available to people who might not have been raised in affluence or with access to traditional educations and career paths. Giving youth ideas for how they can make a profitable living, we paint a picture of the opportunities that exist in the tech sector.

In the season Finale, we hear how the Coronavirus lockdowns impacted these start-ups. Skyping with those still under stay-at-home orders and conducting in person interviews with those in countries where lockdowns have been lifted, we hear how they faced the challenges of lockdown, what they learned and what the future looks like for their companies. The season Finale ends with a cliffhanger that leaves the audience cheering for these entrepreneurs and wondering what new startups will have arisen from the opportunities created by a global tragedy.

Season Two - Leadership (10 episodes)
We begin Season 2 returning to the entrepreneurs profiled in the first season. We look at the leaders and the companies that survived, and their prospects for the future. How did their company survive the pandemic? How did they manage their companies through the hardships and opportunities of the crisis? Have they changed their business model and product, because of the pandemic? Has their financial situation including opportunities for investment changed, because of the pandemic?

Season 2 introduces new entrepreneurs and companies founded in response to the crisis. We focus on the development of new technology and solutions that reflect the changed business opportunities and social realities of the post-coronavirus world.

We ask the questions: How has the entrepreneurs’ vision for a startup changed due to the Coronavirus? Have these entrepreneurs changed how they staff and manage their company, because of the crisis? Have the entrepreneurs changed their leadership style and expectations due to the pandemic? Has the availability of financial investment for startups, whether from angel financiers to institutional investment changed due to the Coronavirus?

Season Three - Mentorship (10 episodes)
Season 3 is about paying back to where you started.  Season 3 is also when StartUP Africa starts to become more of a reality TV series, because of the drama created between entrepreneurs who are successful contrasted against people who want to become successful tech entrepreneurs.

The storyline for Season 3 is about the experienced entrepreneurs profiled in Seasons 1 and 2 acting as mentors to new entrepreneurs, but do not know how to begin. The new entrepreneurs will be either people who want to start their first tech company, or people who have a traditional bricks and mortar business, but want to reinvent their business into a tech company. The mentors who are the experienced entrepreneurs will be owners of successful tech startups.

We will choose the experienced entrepreneurs with the strongest story lines and pair them with the founders of promising new business ideas. The experienced entrepreneurs will provide mentorship on how to start a tech business, giving advice from their own hard won experiences, such as how to position their business for success, how to manage personnel, financial and market challenges, and how to avoid common startup problems.  We intend to document the process of how a mentor guides a tech entrepreneur.

Season Four - Successful Failures (10 episodes)
Season 4 follows the most compelling stories, and we see the more long-term benefits of the mentorship these entrepreneurs received in the previous season.

Season 4 takes a hard look at challenges the StartUP Africa entrepreneurs are currently facing, lessons learned and, perhaps, see some companies fall away and some thrive. This storyline of Season 4 underscores the value of failing as an entrepreneur. One of the season’s themes is why tech investors value very highly those entrepreneurs who have failed, even who have failed multiple times, over an entrepreneur with no experience starting a company.

Season Five - Empowerment (10 episodes)
Season 5 brings together the entrepreneurs with the strongest story lines who we have been following in the previous seasons and connect them with institutional investors from the United States, Europe, Africa or Asia. This is the opportunity for the StartUP Africa entrepreneurs to compete on the highest level for financial support, product, and market relevance.

We see how the StartUP Africa entrepreneurs respond to the increased scrutiny of their companies, surviving in a high-stakes environment, giving away ownership in exchange for substantial investment, and what will be done with additional resources. We hear why investors are willing or not willing to take risks with these companies.