In 2020, our organisation made a significant shift. We had started as an East African centric mission, but as we started receiving applications for incubation from other parts of the continent, it required us to broaden our scope. With around 40% of our work taking place outside of Kenya, we realised the name "Villgro Kenya" was locking ourselves out of a market in need of our services. We made the decision to rebrand and change both our name and scope to include the entire African continent.
We knew we had to be strategic and purposeful about how we expanded, ensuring we didn’t lose the flavour that comes from understanding the local context. We had previously experienced the importance of local contextualisation when we had originally brought Villgro from India to Kenya; many adjustments and customisations were made in order to incorporate the Kenyan startup and healthcare environment.
In the same way, we could not copy and paste our work in East Africa to the rest of the continent. We decided that our expansion strategy would include working alongside in-country, like-minded incubators and accelerators who are embedded and actively working within their local context.
“In our process of expanding from Kenya to the entire continent, we need partners who can ground us in local realities, local challenges, and local startup ecosystems.” – Wilfred Njagi, Co-Founder and CEO, Villgro Africa
With this in mind, we decided on a strategy of co-incubation, a mutually beneficial partnership between Villgro Africa and a local actor. In seeking out potential co-incubation partners, we first provided training, jointly with Villgro USA, to a group of incubators and accelerators from across the continent. We provided tools and strategies that covered the entire incubation process from start to finish, from pipeline generation to metrics and parameters in the selection process to adding value once they’ve entered the portfolio. From this group of Villgro-trained incubators, we were also looking for a partner for our first co-incubation program.
Ghana Tech Lab soon emerged as a very exciting organisation with which we could launch a joint program. They are well established, with a proven track record of success in supporting startups. We knew we could add value to what they offer and that we also had much to learn from them.
“Health Tech is an area with enormous potential for growth and impact. Through this program, we are hoping to support the next generation of healthtech startups that will be driving growth and impact for Africa.” - Edward Akani, Managing Associate, Ghana Tech Lab
Together we have launched the Female-Led Health Tech Startups in Ghana call. We are looking for companies that are making a difference in health that have at least one woman in their leadership team (preferably one of the founders) and who have at least a minimum viable product. The beneficiaries will receive grant funding as well as incubation support from both Ghana Tech Lab and Villgro Africa.
Our goals for this program include:
“We hope that over and above the initial funding they get from us, the beneficiaries will go and unlock at least 10x or more in funding.” – Wilfred Njagi, Co-Founder and CEO, Villgro Africa
We are excited by this program with Ghana Tech Lab and look forward to further co-incubation opportunities across the continent. Villgro Africa is looking for partners who are interested in co-creating programs for their local context. We want to work with organisations that have a strong team and a good track record, established incubators that are invested in long-term support to startups. We are also looking for funding partners interested in investing in these programs. If you would like to partner with us and/or learn more, please reach out at [email protected].