An Exciting Revolution and Acceleration of African Fintech Start-ups is Unfolding

June 5, 2024


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation have launched the Call for Applications for the first timbuktoo Fintech Hub in Africa, based in Lagos, Nigeria. The Pan-African initiative is searching for young Africans from across Africa who can build or are already building fintech start-ups that leverage innovations in financial services to deploy solutions. 

UN Assistant-Secretary General and Regional Bureau for Africa Director, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, while launching the Call, stated that “timbuktoo’s ambition is to mobilize and invest $1 billion of catalytic and commercial capital to transform livelihoods and create dignified jobs.”

In collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria, UNDP in Nigeria will host the bespoke Innovation Centre timbuktoo Fintech Hub in Lagos. This is one of timbuktoo’s eight thematic hubs, which will incubate and accelerate the most promising African start-ups. By leveraging technology in the financial sector, the timbuktoo Fintech Hub will facilitate and accelerate solving complex challenges facing the continent and promote inclusive growth and sustainable development. 

With Lagos, as the premier city of fintech in Africa, the timbuktoo Fintech Hub is establishing a Pan-African inaugural initiative, the timbuktoo Fintech Startup Accelerator Programme, in collaboration with a pan-African network of governments, commercial investors, academia and fintech experts to incubate and scale 25 of Africa’s most innovative start-ups contributing to socio-economic development. The timbuktoo Fintech Hub in Lagos will offer a physical and virtual space providing services and state-of-the-art equipment for startups across Africa to build, test and scale their impactful solutions. The Hub aims to strengthen the local and regional fintech ecosystem to spur socio-economic development across Africa. 

The timbuktoo Fintech Startup Accelerator Programme targets Fintech startups, short for financial technology startups, operating across (but not limited to) agriculture, logistics, commerce, and healthcare sectors, leveraging innovations in financial services to disrupt traditional financial systems and introducing new approaches, tools, and solutions. 

The benefits and incentives for selected timbuktoo Fintech Startup Accelerator Programme startups include mentorship and coaching from Africa’s foremost industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs; equity-free funding to support the start-up’s growth; access to a rich network of African start-up founders, entrepreneurs, and potential investors and clients and, access to technical resources tailored to accelerate the growth and impact of the start-up.

Applications are open to African-owned startups registered in Africa with founders between 18 and 35 years of age. Start-ups must be locally owned and based in any African country with a minimum viable product and include technology-focused entrepreneurs and start-up founders who can build, or are already building, fintech startups that meet the application criteria. Interested start-ups must complete an online application form before 21 June 2024.

timbuktoo initiative is a movement driven by the passion and dedication of Africa’s youth. The initiative aims to harness the untapped potential of Africa’s young entrepreneurs by providing them with the resources and support needed to transform their innovative ideas into thriving ventures,” said Ms Elsie G. Attafuah, Resident Representative – United Nations Development Programme Nigeria

The overall cohort composition will ensure distribution that ensures equal opportunities for participation across countries and genders. For more details on the call, see here.


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Ngele Ali

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