Behind the Criteria #1: Africa-Centricity & Yale Africa Startup Review

The Yale Africa Startup Review (YASR) aims to show case the dynamism, breadth and diversity of innovation across Africa, from Zambia to Senegal and Morocco to Zimbabwe; beyond the staples of Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. We dive beyond the much celebrated fintech growth to verticals and value chains flying under the radar. We do this through YASR30; a feature of the most exciting companies in the ecosystem. In this mini-blog series, we take you behind the scenes to share one of the five criteria we use. Our first criteria is Africa-centricity.

We are just as excited about the dynamic talent that foreign founders and companies bring to the African ecosystem as we are about the local homegrown innovation that already exists and is thriving. In thinking about Africa-centricity, we look for startups that have at least one local on their founding team or at the C-suite level and at least 50% of their operations and headquarters on the continent. The rationale behind this criterion is based on data from entrepreneurs on the ground; quite simply the playing field is not the same for local founders and companies that operate locally. Local founders and local-led teams are less likely to raise financing and less likely to receive recognition. According to the Guardian, “of the top 10 African-based startups that received the highest amount of venture capital in Africa last year, eight were led by foreigners. In Kenya, for instance, only 6% of startups that received more than $1m in 2019 were led by locals, a Viktoria Ventures analysis found.” YASR is mindful of this. All companies that we will feature in #YASR30 meet our Africa-centricity standard. Next up we’ll take a sneak peak into how YASR evaluates innovation.

The review is run by students and recent alumni of the Africa Business & Society Club at the Yale School of Management

drug hunter, serial optimist, finance