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5 Relief Funds to help African Entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Has COVID-19 negatively impacted your startup? Is your startup struggling? These resources can help you get through this difficult time.

The spread of coronavirus to the African continent was not immediate but the economic impact has already devastated local economies. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and South Africa have implemented local and national mandatory stay at home public health measures. Businesses have had to shut down to comply with the measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, without financial support, some businesses might never reopen. Entrepreneurs need to know that all is not lost. Even during this global crisis, there are loans, grants, and venture capital available to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and startup founders who are concerned about sustainability during the pandemic and growth in the unknown recovery period.

1.Vital Impact Relief Facility — COVID-19 Debt Fund ($1M): The fund will primarily target companies involved in agro-industry and processing, healthcare, sustainable infrastructure, and education, and is initially launching in Kenya and Uganda. It will then expand into Vital’s target geographies including Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Angola, and Senegal. Fund Type: Loan. More Info

2.COVID-19 Small Business and Crisis Response Funds: Google’s $800+ million commitment to support small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations, governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic. Fund Type: Loan, Grant. More Info

3.MEST Africa Challenge ($50,000): Annual Africa-wide pitch competition for tech software entrepreneurs offering $50,000 in equity investment for startups based in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sénégal, South Africa and Tanzania. The MEST Africa Challenge is a search for Africa’s emerging tech entrepreneurs with the aim of providing them with investment capital, coaching, and access to a continent-wide network of startup hubs. MEST has been strengthening the ecosystem for tech startup success since 2008. Fund Type: Equity. More Info

4.Open Road Alliance Response to COVID-19 ($50,000-$1M) — Social enterprise-focused grants for organizations responding to COV19; loans to organizations and companies affected by COVID-19; no sector or geographic focus, but they only make a loan or grant to an organization that is (1) otherwise fully funded, then (2) hit an unexpected, external roadblock (i.e., COVID-19), where (3) Open Road’s loan can fully solve the problem at hand and (4) demonstrate the potential to create catalytic impact. In this time of exceptional need, they will prioritize impact. Fund Type: Loan, Grant. More Info.

5.Black & Veatch COVID-19 Response Accelerator ($25,000) — The 2020 Black & Veatch IgniteX COVID-19 Response Accelerator is a virtual, remote initiative open to startups and others with emerging solutions that can mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our communities. Fund Type: Grant. More Info.

MEST has also created a larger list of COVID-19 resources available to African tech startups that will be updated regularly. To add opportunities to this funding list or the resources list, please email



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MEST Africa

MEST Africa

The largest Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for startups: