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What is Africa Millions?

Africa Millions is an initiative that aims to help lift millions of people out of poverty in Africa. It focuses on supporting entrepreneurship and job creation across the continent. The goal is to empower people to build businesses and find solutions to local challenges, leading to greater economic prosperity.

Why was Africa Millions started?

Africa Millions was started in response to the massive economic potential that exists in Africa. With a large and rapidly growing population, there is an enormous opportunity for economic growth if the right investments and policies are put in place. However, much of Africa continues to suffer from high rates of unemployment and poverty.

Entrepreneurship offers a powerful tool for addressing these challenges. Supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses creates jobs, enables innovation, and promotes sustainable economic development. Africa Millions aims to unleash this entrepreneurial potential by providing financing, training, and other forms of support to promising ventures across Africa.

Who runs and funds Africa Millions?

Africa Millions was founded through a partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Mastercard Foundation is a global organization based in Toronto, Canada that promotes financial inclusion and prosperity in developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa. It provided $30 million in seed funding to launch Africa Millions.

The UNDP is the leading United Nations organization working to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities around the world. It helps implement Africa Millions programming on the ground in partnership with governments, civil society, and the private sector.

Additional funding comes from a range of bilateral donors, foundations, and corporations who support the Africa Millions mission.

What countries does Africa Millions operate in?

Africa Millions is active in eight countries across Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia

These countries were selected based on criteria such as income levels, poverty rates, entrepreneurial ecosystem maturity, government commitment to entrepreneurship, and opportunities for high social impact.

What initiatives does Africa Millions support?

Africa Millions pursues its mission through three types of strategic initiatives:

  1. Incubation and acceleration programs – These programs provide training, mentorship, and early-stage capital to promising startups. Africa Millions has established national incubation networks made up of local partners in each country.
  2. Entrepreneurship education – Africa Millions develops entrepreneurship curricula and provides training to schools and universities. This aims to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and skills among young people.
  3. Policy work and research – Africa Millions conducts research and supports policy reforms that create more entrepreneurship-friendly business environments. This includes reforms related to regulation, access to finance, infrastructure, and taxation.

What are some key focus areas?

Within its broad mission, Africa Millions targets several priority sectors and cross-cutting themes:

  • Agribusiness – Supporting agriculture-related enterprises to boost productivity and food security.
  • Renewable energy – Enabling startups providing solar, wind, and other clean energy solutions.
  • Healthcare – Backing innovative healthcare startups to expand access to care.
  • Digital transformation – Helping tech-enabled businesses drive digital innovation.
  • Women’s entrepreneurship – Empowering women entrepreneurs through tailored programs.
  • Youth entrepreneurship – Prioritizing youth-led startups and youth training.

This targeted sectoral focus ensures Africa Millions resources have the greatest impact in areas that align with broader development goals.

What are some key achievements?

Since starting operations in 2017, Africa Millions has accomplished the following:

  • Supported over 720 startups through incubation and acceleration.
  • Provided entrepreneurship education to over 200,000 young people.
  • Helped partners raise over $56 million in follow-on funding for startups.
  • Supported policy reforms related to entrepreneurship in all eight countries.
  • Conducted groundbreaking research on youth entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem.

Additionally, the startups Africa Millions has backed have created over 18,000 direct jobs. Many of these businesses have achieved strong growth and now generate millions in revenues annually. Africa Millions tracks a range of performance indicators to monitor effectiveness and impact.

What is the long-term vision for impact?

Africa Millions aims to impact over 50 million lives across Africa by 2030. This includes creating over 3 million jobs, supporting 30,000 ventures, training 1 million youth, and mobilizing $500 million in capital. Achieving this ambitious vision would significantly advance economic transformation and inclusive growth in Africa.

By taking an entrepreneurship-driven approach, Africa Millions hopes to catalyze systemic change. The goal is to build self-reliant and sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystems that will continue driving employment and innovation long after Africa Millions ends active programming in target countries.

Africa Millions also intends to be a catalyst for larger-scale public and private sector investments in African entrepreneurs and small businesses. By demonstrating successful models and approaches, it can make the case for expanded policy attention and resources dedicated to entrepreneurship development.

How are entrepreneurs selected for support?

Africa Millions uses a competitive process to select entrepreneurs and startups to participate in its programs. The selection criteria includes:

  • Sound business model and potential for high growth and job creation
  • Strong management team with entrepreneurial capabilities
  • Alignment with Africa Millions’ priority sectors and themes
  • Potential for social impact and contribution to development goals
  • Geographic diversity and inclusion of marginalized groups like women and youth

Calls for applications are issued on a rolling basis and are widely disseminated through online channels, radio advertisements, partner organizations, entrepreneurship events, and other means. High-potential entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply, with a focus on attracting quality deal flow from across countries.

The application process involves an initial screening, review of detailed business plans, and final interviews. Independent investment committees in each country make final selections based on standardized criteria.

What training and support do entrepreneurs receive?

Entrepreneurs selected to join Africa Millions accelerator or incubation programs receive a customized package of services and support. This includes:

  • Skills training – Courses and workshops on business strategy, marketing, financial management, operations, pitching, and more.
  • Mentorship – One-on-one advisory support from successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.
  • Networking – Connections to potential partners, clients, and investors through events and introductions.
  • Access to capital – Small seed grants, follow-on financing, and facilitation of connections with impact investors.
  • Technical facilities – Shared office space, internet access, equipment, and other facilities depending on needs.

Programs typically run from 3-12 months to help entrepreneurs validate concepts, launch new products and services, achieve initial sales, and position their ventures for investment and growth.

What is the Alumni Venture Fund?

One of the unique elements of Africa Millions support is the Alumni Venture Fund. This provides continuation financing to the most promising businesses after they graduate from initial incubation/acceleration programs.

The Fund provides convertible debt or equity investments between US$50,000 and US$200,000 to support later-stage growth needs like technology development, inventory, marketing, and geographic expansion. To date, the Fund has made over 130 follow-on investments.

By providing selective post-acceleration support, the Fund helps ensure entrepreneurs have sufficient capital to translate knowledge and skills into growing, sustainable enterprises.

How does Africa Millions engage youth?

Developing entrepreneurial skills and mindsets among African youth is a top priority for Africa Millions. Key initiatives include:

  • Entrepreneurship training programs in over 500 universities and technical colleges across Africa.
  • Business idea competitions at the secondary school level reaching over 100,000 youth.
  • Demand-driven vocational skills training linked to startup incubation.
  • Junior Achievement chapters across Africa delivering experiential learning.
  • Partnerships with online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera to expand youth access.

Africa Millions also targets youth through its main startup incubation and acceleration programs. Around 65% of supported entrepreneurs are under age 35. Grants and training are tailored to young people’s needs.

What policy work does Africa Millions do?

Creating more conducive business environments is essential for entrepreneurship to thrive in Africa. Africa Millions engages in policy advocacy and supports reforms in several areas including:

  • Financial sector – Increased access to capital through mechanisms like loan guarantees, inclusive collateral rules, mobile lending, and alternative finance options.
  • Registration and taxation – Simplified business registration procedures and more appropriate tax regimes for MSMEs.
  • Infrastructure and trade – Enabling environments for e-commerce, digital connectivity, logistics, and cross-border trade.
  • Innovation systems – Policies and programs to link industry, academia, and research in commercializing science and technology.
  • Youth programs – Dedicated governmental strategies and resources focused on youth entrepreneurship.

Africa Millions takes a data-driven approach to identify reform priorities that unlock bottlenecks for entrepreneurs. Constructive public-private dialogue and partnerships underpin successful policy change.

How are stakeholders engaged and partnerships formed?

Africa Millions utilizes a collaborative approach centered on building multi-stakeholder partnerships and networks. Key partners include:

  • National and local governments across sectors.
  • Private sector through CSR, platforms, and innovative finance tools.
  • Development partners like USAID, Swedish SIDA, and Germany’s GIZ.
  • Regional bodies like the African Development Bank.
  • Local business associations, incubators, innovation hubs, and industry groups.
  • Leading African and global academic institutions.

Diverse partnerships allow Africa Millions to leverage expertise, relationships, infrastructure, and resources from across public, private, and civic spheres. This creates greater impact and sustainability.

How are entrepreneurs connected to markets?

Access to markets and customers remains one of the biggest challenges for African startups. Africa Millions employs various strategies to link supported entrepreneurs to markets including:

  • Facilitating partnerships with large firms, networks, and industry associations.
  • Using online platforms and mobile apps to aggregate demand.
  • Helping startups exhibit at major industry events and trade fairs.
  • Training entrepreneurs in customer acquisition, marketing, and selling skills.
  • Promoting an Africa-wide network so startups can expand across borders.
  • Connecting startups to impact sourcing and public procurement opportunities.

Africa Millions also works to attract corporate partners who can serve as commercialization partners and buyers. Export readiness training helps high-potential firms access global value chains.

How are women entrepreneurs supported?

Empowering women entrepreneurs is an explicit focus across Africa Millions’ work. Strategies include:

  • Targeted outreach through women’s business associations and platforms.
  • Funding goals for women-owned ventures (minimum 25% target).
  • Capacity building on leadership, negotiation, marketing, and technical skills.
  • Networking platforms to connect women entrepreneurs.
  • Special awards and recognition programs.
  • Childcare support and family-friendly program policies.
  • Guidelines and training to ensure safe, professional environments.

Africa Millions also advocates for broader policy reforms and investments to drive women’s economic empowerment across Africa.

How does the program measure success?

Africa Millions utilizes a comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, and learning framework to assess performance and impact. Key indicators tracked include:

  • Number of startups supported
  • Jobs and revenue created by startups
  • Diversity of entrepreneurs (gender, age, location)
  • Amount of external capital raised
  • Survival rates of firms after acceleration
  • Policy reforms achieved
  • Entrepreneur satisfaction and NPS scores

Data is rigorously collected through surveys, interviews, administrative records, and third-party research. Impact evaluations are also conducted on sample groups to validate outcomes.

Analytics help Africa Millions refine programs, understand what works, and drive greater development impact. Results are published in annual impact reports.

What are plans for the future?

Looking ahead, Africa Millions aims to scale impact by:

  • Expanding geographic presence across Africa by adding new countries.
  • Growing core programs like startup incubation and entrepreneurial education.
  • Launching targeted initiatives in high-potential sectors like renewable energy and e-mobility.
  • Leveraging digital tools, such as mobile apps, to reach more entrepreneurs.
  • Engaging diaspora entrepreneur networks to connect with global resources.
  • Influencing national entrepreneurship policies and strategies across the continent.

Africa Millions also intends to diversify funding sources by mobilizing more resources from African governments, local businesses, and bilateral donors. Additionally, the self-sustainability of country programs will be strengthened by gradually reducing reliance on external support.


Africa Millions is an innovative effort to unleash entrepreneur-led development across Africa. By taking an integrated approach combining startup support, youth training, research, and policy engagement it aims to build vibrant and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems. Early successes have demonstrated the viability of this model in tackling youth unemployment and catalyzing growth. Going forward, Africa Millions has ambitious plans to scale impact and become a platform for transformative change across the continent.