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23 Incubator and Accelerator Programs for Startup Entrepreneurs You Should Know

For early stage startup entrepreneurs looking to start off on the right foot, accelerators and incubators offer great ways to start and grow your business. The terms “accelerator” and “incubator” are often assumed to represent the same concept. However, there are a few key distinctions you should be aware of.

Accelerators “accelerate” growth of an existing company, while incubators “incubate” disruptive ideas with the hope of building out a business model and company. So, accelerators focus on scaling a business while incubators are often more focused on innovation.

Accelerators and incubators both offer entrepreneurs good opportunities early on. As a founder, you get help to quickly grow you business. And they often better your chances of attracting a top venture capital (VC) firm to invest in your startup at a later point.

With that said, here are 24 incubator and accelerator programs for startup entrepreneurs you should know.

1.     MTN Solution Space Venture Innovation Program for African Tech Startups

MTN Group is looking for startups that are either building a sustainable Africa through digital solutions for health, education, agriculture, fintech, energy and IoT, or enabling businesses through digital solutions for religion, sport, news and e-commerce.

Value of Award: MTN Industry Partnership, Feedback & Guidance, Entrepreneurship Skills, Advisory Services, Co-Working & Community

2.     Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) Incubation Program for Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Startups

The Incubation program at CcHUB takes a hands-on approach to helping entrepreneurs execute a working business model and grow a sustainable business. Our goal is to help the entrepreneur(s) properly structure their business, ensure consistent growth and access funding to build a lasting global entity. The program is open to startup teams from anywhere in the world that are looking to grow their businesses in Africa, particularly Nigeria.

3.     Injini Edtech Incubator for African Education Startups

Injini is the first EdTech dedicated incubator programme on the African continent. It is the only opportunity for EdTech entrepreneurs based anywhere in Africa to get industry specialist mentoring, support, scale up and funding introductions, and early stage funding. Get $50K investment and 5-month incubation programme to change education across Africa. 

4.     Accountability Incubator Program for Young Civil Leaders in Developing Countries

Do you have an idea for building accountability and transparency in your community? Are you developing a new tool for civic engagement or anti-corruption? Apply to join the Accountability Incubator for a chance to receive the support you need to turn your idea into reality! The Accountability Incubator is Accountability Lab’s flagship initiative to provide passionate young leaders with catalytic support to develop and implement low-cost, high-impact solutions for accountability in their communities.

5.     Phanes Group Solar Incubator for PV projects in sub-Saharan Africa

The Phanes Group Solar Incubator was initiated to select and support PV project opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa that for a number of reasons might not be able to reach beyond the planning phase. Secondly, it represents an opportunity for Phanes Group to utilize its expertise and experience to give back to the communities in the economies it serves.

The winning candidate(s) will enter a partnership with Phanes Group holding a long-term stake in the project. Jointly, we will bring the project to financial close. Phanes Group and its partners will provide extensive mentorship and knowledge transfer throughout the development partnership – kicking off with the incubator phase in Dubai, UAE, while also setting the foundations to deliver bankable projects in the future.

6.     Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader Program for Social Entrepreneurs

Three Dot Dash is a global youth initiative of We Are Family Foundation (WAFF). It is a social entrepreneur incubator and accelerator designed to amplify the work of young people making an extraordinary impact. Three Dot Dash powers the most influential social entrepreneurs between the ages of 13-19, who have found a solution or innovation to address a basic human need.

7.     GSBI Accelerator Program for Social Entrepreneurs

The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) at Santa Clara University serves social entrepreneurs around the world who are developing innovative solutions that provide a sustainable path out of poverty. The GSBI Accelerator assists selected participants with business plans and other capacity building in support of investment. Past participants include many in water supply, energy, agriculture, and environment in developing countries. 

8.     Chivas Venture Accelerator Program

In 2014, Chivas Regal launched The Venture, a $1million annual fund and global search to reward those who are using business to create positive change. The Venture is a global search to find and support the most promising startups with the potential to succeed financially and make a positive impact on the lives of others. The most promising startups – one from each country participating in The Venture – will make it to the global final and have a chance to win a share of $1 million in funding.

9.     Sony/Warner Techstars Music Accelerator Program for Music Startups

Techstars Music is a startup accelerator run by Techstars and leading companies from the global music business: Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Harmonix Music Systems, Silva Artist Management, Bill Silva Entertainment, QPrime Management, Concord Music, Royalty Exchange, and RecoChoku. Techstars invest $120k into 10 of the best music-related startups from around the world. It provides office space in LA and access to mentors and investors from the global music business.

10.  Global Giving Accelerator for Young Entrepreneurs

The Global Giving Accelerator is a virtual training program and crowd funding campaign that will help you take your fundraising to the next level. Following an optional two-week training curriculum, you’ll be entered into an Accelerator campaign where you’ll raise at least $5,000 total from a minimum of 40 different donors in order to graduate and secure a permanent fundraising spot on the Global Giving platform.

The Global Giving Accelerator is an opportunity for you and your organization to build skills, access tools, and grow your base of supporters to achieve crowd funding success. When you graduate, your organization becomes a permanent member of Global Giving, and you’ll have access to all the tools, training, and one-on-one support available in the Global Giving community.

11. Marriott TestBED Accelerator for Startups in Middle East and Africa

TestBED is a 10-week accelerator programme that gives startups an invaluable opportunity to test their products within an operating Marriott Hotel. The accelerator programme powered by Marriott Hotels aim to find cutting edge technologies, that can transform hotel guests experience. The programme will work with startups that have developed products and services which can enhance Marriott Hotel’s guest experience.

12.   MasterCard Start Path Global Accelerator Program for Innovative Startups

Start Path Global is MasterCard’s worldwide programme for innovative later stage startups from across the globe. Eligible startups will be provided support to travel. MasterCard works with an ever growing portfolio of later stage startups with unique solutions across fintech and commerce. Start Path Global is based on what has worked best for MasterCard’s portfolio of startups: more flexibility, more customization, and no distractions from your current business.

13.   Wells Fargo Accelerator Programme for FinTech Startups

The Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator is a hands-on program focused on startups that create solutions for financial institutions and enterprise customers. The semiannual boot camp is for innovators who seek to shape the future of financial services. Companies join Wells Fargo’s accelerator to refine their potential breakthrough technologies for financial services and other applications.

14.   WISE Accelerator for Education Technology Projects

The WISE Accelerator is a program designed to support the development of innovative projects in the field of education. Selected projects receive the guidance and expertise of qualified mentors and partners who provide effective strategies and practical support for their further development. Each year, five projects are selected to join the one-year program, during which time they benefit from tailor-made mentorships to address their specific needs. In addition, the WISE Accelerator assists the selected projects to connect with an international network and create opportunities to share knowledge and find support among donors and investors.

15.  NextGen in Franchising Global Competition for Entrepreneurs

The NextGen Global Competition engages young entrepreneurs who are seeking careers and business opportunities in the franchising industry. Competition prizes range from a complimentary trip to the IFA’s Annual Convention, to a chance to participate and win cash prizes in the FranShark competition, and a 90-day accelerator program with industry leaders and CEOs.

16.  Barclays Africa, Techstars Accelerator Programme for FinTech Startups

The Barclays Accelerator Powered by Techstars is a three month intensive startup accelerator focused on innovations in financial services. This partnership between Barclays and Techstars brings two global networks together into one accelerator programme that offers entrepreneurs unprecedented access not only to a world leading bank but also to Techstars’ mentor and investor relationships across 13 locations.

17.  MERCK Accelerator Program Germany

Are you ready to get your start-up to the next level? The Accelerator is looking for true innovators and entrepreneurs with a start-up mindset. Candidates applying to the accelerator program should be startups in the fields of digital healthcare, life science and performance materials who are dedicated to the program and ready to give their all for the entire program period.

18.  GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund for Start-ups in Africa and Asia Pacific

The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund provides selected start-ups in Africa and Asia Pacific with equity-free funding, technical assistance, and the opportunity to partner with mobile operators in their markets to help scale their products and services into sustainable businesses with positive socio-economic impact.

19. Ashoka Social Investment Accelerator for Social Entrepreneurs in Africa

Are you a social enterprise and are you looking to raise investments for the first time? Are you based in North, East or Southern Africa? Join the 6 months Ashoka Social Investment Accelerator by Ashoka Africa, designed to support social entrepreneurs!

The aim of the accelerator is to support social entrepreneurs to refine their business model and become investment ready. It also aims to support them to find the right hybrid corporate structure to access both investment and philanthropy efficiently. The outcome at the end of the program is to produce a pitch deck that you will be able to share with potential investors.

20.  Global African Agribusiness Accelerator Platform (GAAAP) for Young Zambian Entrepreneurs

The Global African Agribusiness Accelerator Platform seeks to identify and work with Africa-active agribusiness/ agriculture enterprise owners aged 40 or below who have been in business at least 3 years or more, and who seek to increase their access to finance, markets and their business’ overall growth.

21.  IDEX Accelerator Global Fellowship for Young Social Intrapreneurs

The IDEX Accelerator & Global Fellowship Program was founded on the idea that by investing in the future generations of leaders who are passionate about leading high-impact careers, we can regenerate local economies and build stronger communities around the world. The IDEX Accelerator is a six-month fellowship experience designed for aspiring social intrapreneurs who want to take control of their career path while helping to address society’s most pressing problems.

These young professionals are given the opportunity to work alongside social entrepreneurs across India and gain hands-on experience addressing the needs of a growing enterprise while earning a Professional Certification in Social Enterprise.

22.  Google Developers Launchpad Africa for African Tech Startups

Google developer Launchpad is a global acceleration program that helps startups build and scale great products by matching them with the best of Google – its people, network, and advanced technologies.

Over the next three years, from 2018, the Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme has revealed it will provide African start-ups with over $3 million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa. Participants received travel and PR support during each three-month program. Each has received $10, 000 in an equity-free cash grant

23.   Digital Health Cape Town (DHCT) Accelerator for Digital Health Startups in South Africa

Digital Health accepts applications for the best start-up digital health companies with a viable business and social impact model in South Africa. Successful applicants will participate in a 10 week online programme, as well as face to face engagements with business coaches and industry mentors to develop their business plans. The top graduating students will be eligible to receive funding and industry assistance to launch and expand their business.

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