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    #AfricaMonth: Jo Griffiths on GIIG’s mission to boost African tech startups

    For Africa Month, we have caught up with Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG) co-founder Jo Griffiths. GIIG is a partner to the African region of the Global Startup Awards.
    Jo Griffiths | image supplied
    Jo Griffiths | image supplied

    With the ambition to find, fund and grow United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal-aligned tech innovation startups from across Africa, GIIG aims to accelerate business growth for top tech talent with world-changing solutions.

    Here, Griffiths unpacks more about GIIG, its success stories and its plans for the future.

    What inspired you to co-found the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG)?

    The inspiration behind co-founding the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG) arose from recognising Africa's dynamic evolution in the innovation landscape and the immense potential that could be realised through cross-border collaboration.

    Our co-founders, a diverse team of highly experienced fund managers and market access experts, were driven to foster innovation across the continent and create a platform that supports and accelerates tech startups.

    To achieve this, we developed a comprehensive approach that includes a scouting tool to identify startups in all 54 African countries, funding startups through the GIIG Africa Fund, and helping them grow via the GIIG Africa Foundation.

    As the continent enters its Decade of Action, we seek to showcase Africa’s world-changing innovation through an SDG-aligned lens on both the global and local stage.

    We are inspired by our belief that African innovators represent the next generation of leaders who can serve as continental and national assets, inspiring the mobilisation of young nations and leaders into the innovation economy and ensuring global readiness.

    What specific challenges or opportunities in Africa motivated you to focus on tech innovation startups in the region?

    Africa presents unique challenges and opportunities that are ripe for tech innovation to solve not only African challenges but also have significant global relevance to solve the SDGs faster.

    The continent's diverse startup ecosystems, each at varying levels of maturity, pose significant challenges. However, this diversity also offers immense opportunities for frugal innovation and empathetic entrepreneurship.

    By addressing local issues with scalable solutions, African innovators can make a global impact. GIIG focuses on building interconnected communities and fostering cross-border collaboration to harness this potential.

    Can you share some success stories of startups that GIIG has helped to find, fund, and grow?

    Thousands of startups have benefited as a result of being part of the GSA Africa community. This year alone we received 11,900 entries to the programme.

    To highlight a few startups that have thrived under GIIG’s support through funding, mentorship, and market access; Kubik transforms plastic waste into building materials, contributing to gender equality and sustainable communities.

    With our support, Kubik has secured significant follow-on funding, accessed new markets, and gained global visibility through high-profile media and events including CNN, Time, COP28, and Vivatech.

    Similarly, ScarabTech's pyrolysis system converts single-use plastics into energy, addressing the need for affordable and clean energy. Our support has facilitated their market access and provided crucial mentorship.

    Health-focused startups like My1Health and Envisionit AI have made significant strides in improving healthcare delivery and outcomes through innovative technologies.

    Envisionit AI, in particular, has successfully received FDA approval. These success stories highlight GIIG's pivotal role in funding, connecting, and scaling impactful startups across Africa.

    What are some of the biggest challenges that African tech startups face, and how does GIIG help them overcome these obstacles?

    African tech startups face numerous obstacles, including limited access to funding, regulatory challenges, and market entry barriers.

    GIIG helps startups overcome these hurdles by providing mentorship, facilitating investor connections, offering policy support and accessing GIIG’s global networks to facilitate fast-tracked market access.

    The GIIG Africa Fund has been instrumental in providing the necessary capital to scale these innovations.

    Additionally, the GSA Africa Awards create platforms for startups to showcase their solutions, attract investment and gain much-needed visibility. This is all with the aim of stimulating investor confidence in the continent.

    What are your future goals for GIIG and its impact on the African tech startup landscape?

    Looking ahead, GIIG aims to further empower African startups and position the continent as a global hub for tech innovation. Our vision extends to creating sustainable businesses with a positive impact, leveraging innovation as a driving force for transformative change.

    We aim to continue finding, funding, and growing world-changing innovations through a robust framework. By fostering opportunities for the well-being of humanity, we aspire to sustain this generation and bring hope to the next.

    How do you balance the commercial and social impact aspects of tech innovation in your work with GIIG?

    Balancing commercial success with social impact is central to GIIG's approach.

    We invest in solutions that are both profitable and socially responsible, ensuring that the growth of tech startups contributes to broader societal benefits.

    The GIIG Africa Foundation plays a crucial role in this, providing problem-specific support and fostering collaborations that drive systemic transformation. This holistic approach ensures that our initiatives generate positive economic and social outcomes.

    Can you elaborate on the partnership between GIIG and the Global Startup Awards, and how it benefits African startups?

    The partnership between GIIG and the Global Startup Awards (GSA) is pivotal for African startups.

    This collaboration provides a platform to showcase African innovations on a global stage, facilitate connections with international investors, and enhance access to essential resources.

    The GSA is the largest independent competition of its kind, spanning 120 countries and offering an unparalleled network within the global startup ecosystem.

    The GSA Africa Awards also serve as a forum for dialogue, encouraging participation and engagement within Africa's startup ecosystem.

    Ultimately, the Global Startup Awards Africa aims to raise the visibility of African innovation. As a unifying mechanism, it transcends borders, cultures, and nationalities, encompassing a diverse range of startup ecosystems at varying levels of maturity.

    This creates a common language for understanding and connection among stakeholders. Through GSA, we aim to get startups seen, connected, and funded, thereby fostering their growth and success.

    How do you see tech innovation playing a role in addressing some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, such as healthcare, education, and sustainability?

    Tech innovation holds tremendous potential in addressing some of Africa’s most pressing challenges in healthcare, education, and sustainability, and we have seen it evidenced through our GSA Africa scouting.

    What kind of partnerships or collaborations are you looking to form to further support tech innovation in Africa?

    Today, we operate the fastest-growing innovation community in Africa and stand at a juncture of significant impact maturity and influence, poised to actively pursue partnerships and deploy support aimed at fostering interconnected systemic transformation.

    Our ultimate goal is to create opportunities for our youth, stimulate investor confidence, facilitate cross-border tech transfer to expedite development and establish vibrant startup nations across Africa.

    To further support tech innovation in Africa, GIIG seeks to form strategic partnerships with both private and public sectors to foster innovation across all African member states.

    This in alignment with the priorities of Agenda 2063 to create a deeper collective understanding in emerging economies of the importance of innovation as a lever for transformation.

    Collaborations are crucial for scaling innovative solutions and fostering open innovation. By leveraging collective resources and networks, these partnerships can drive systemic transformation and promote sustainable development across the continent.

    We seek partners who can help lead this agenda with a greater sense of urgency, to help communities and organisations adopt change faster.

    About Imran Salie

    Bizcommunity Editor: Automotive, Entrepreneurship, Education
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