Rwanda to Host $1 Billion Pan-African Innovation Hub

Rwanda is set to host the headquarters of United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) new innovation financing facility, Timbuktoo, as part of the organization's efforts to spark Africa's startup revolution.

The initiative aims to invest a total of $1 billion in catalytic and commercial capital over the next 10 years in order to build a distributed innovation network of eight pan African hubs located in key ecosystems.

Over 1,000 startups are targeted from across the continent.

According to UNDP, Timbuktu is expected to address the gap in early stage risk capital while aiming to growglobal-class startups and unlock the 'One Africa market'.

President Paul Kagame recently met in Kigali a UNDP delegation led by Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP-Africa to among others discuss the development.

The New Times understands that Rwanda has already designated an area for the headquarters for the hub.

Timbuktoo's parent fund, UNDP said, will finance a venture builder in each of the eight hubs and invest minority capital to de-risk private capital in a subsidiary fund in each hub.

"Each hub and its fund will specialize in an industry vertical, from fintech to creatives, logistics, agritech, etc, to become the pan-African innovation center for that sector," reads part of the statement.

Meanwhile the hubs, privately managed independent entities, will work closely with corporates, talent centers, universities, and ecosystem actors.

As it stands, the parent fund is mobilizing funds from various unicorns to be able to finance eight pan-African Hubs in different cities across the continent.

"Each timbuktoo Hub will have a Venture Builder working across ecosystem players to support and grow startups from around the continent," she said.

The Parent Fund will then establish a subsidiary Venture Fund in each Hub, which will also attract a majority of private co-investors.

"Each Hub will be specialized in a single industry vertical, aiming to become a global center for innovation excellence, and will be managed by a private hub manager with deep domain expertise and fund management experience," the statement added.

Timbuktoo comes at a time when the world is emerging from a global pandemic, with strong emphasis on innovation as a path to resilience and recovery.

Like the rest of the world, Africa also has also experienced a surge in tech and tech-enabled startups, with last year's venture capital funding nearly increasing by four times.

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