Africa’s startups can access resources and funding through AWS
When African start-ups complain about growth constraints, finance is typically the first person they blame. Other times, technical know-how also matters. In a conversation on the sidelines of this year’s re:Invent with Danielle Morris, global lead for public health equity at Amazon Web Services (AWS), she brought attention to the AWS Health Equity Initiative, a $40 million pledge to help researchers and innovators use AWS technology.
More financial aid is still available for other start-ups, with over $14 million in AWS cloud compute credits or promotional credits and technical expertise already awarded to support innovators and their dreams.
She cites Kinglsey Ndoh of Nigeria’s Hurone AI as an example of a start-up that has profited from this. The others are Jacaranda Health, a Kenyan non-profit organization dedicated to maternal health that has assisted 2.4 million facility-based births since 2007.
“It’s more about awareness,” she says, on start-ups tapping into these opportunities. According to her, since launching in 2021 the Health Equity Initiative has been actively working with various teams as well as innovators across Africa to create awareness that this is a resource that’s available to them. “It’s open to all innovators who are using cloud technology,” she says.
“Part of what really excites AWS about the potential for start-ups and cloud within the continent of Africa is the population,” says David Roldán, head of Startup BD, EMEA. It makes it possible for people to pursue entrepreneurship by offering a variety of specializations.
While there are many fintech success stories already, he points out that what matters most is that each one fosters the development of a small group of individuals who later return to the ecosystem to start new businesses.
AWS aims to offer the best possible support to the ecosystem by being there for it from the beginning. Over the past ten years, AWS has given out over $6 billion in cloud credits through its flagship startup program, AWS Activate. supplying assistance for the technical infrastructure as well.
He singles out Cellulant, which has experienced growth as a result of AWS’s intervention. They are now able to process at least 12 million transactions daily across 120,000,000 accounts, something they were unable to accomplish in the previous year. He states, “Their comment is they’ve seen aspirational growth,” adding that they have actually accelerated.
Nonetheless, Africa continues to offer plenty of chances to welcome clouds. According to Roldan, “I think it’s important that we help people understand the art of the possible.” For this reason, he believes that ongoing investments in skill development are critical to Africa’s future.
“The challenge is that we need to make sure that we’re helping to inspire more people and provide them with where and how to access information that enables them to grow,” he says.