Afrilabs builds capacity of Francophone African hub managers in Lubumbashi – Republic Democratic of Congo

A total of 30 managers and staff from French-speaking African hubs successfully attended a capacity- building workshop from 10 to 12 May 2023 in Lubumbashi, in Democratic Republic of congo.

This is one of Afrilabs flagship program ensuring that Francophone African hubs remain active in supporting start-ups on the African continent.

Afrilabs is financed by the French Development Agency l’Agence Française de Développement (Groupe AFD) through the Digital Africa Seed Fund. This Fund is managed in the DRC Congo by the hub Cinolu – the Lubumbashi Innovation Center, one of the largest hubs in the country.

Taking place in the Ukamili Digital City space, hubs managers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Cameroon and Congo- Brazzaville met and discussed the following theme: « Building successful startups”. The workshop included interactive, practical and networking sessions with the key tech stakeholders in Francophone African ecosystem. For the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Fédération d’Entreprises du Congo (FEC), the largest professional organization in the country, was one of the key guests.

Trained to train

This capacity-building workshop was aimed at hub managers including incubators, accelerators, innovation labs and co-working spaces. This was a conducive environment for Francophone African hub managers to to learn how to continue to support tech startups and small entreprises through effective, sustainable and profitable programs. In this context, the attendees also discussed about methods and business models to be implemented by hub managers.

According to Cinolu’s CEO, Berry Numbi, the selection of the participating hub-managers was based on two main criteria, namely: « The type of activities that these hubs deploy in their country. Secondly, hubs tha had never received any support in terms of capacity building of their staff in the past.

Engagement of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lubumbashi

This workshop used the city of Lubumbashi as a case study in terms of mapping of the hub managers ecosystem and on the type of possible collaborations to be developed. On the third day of the workshop, entrepreneurs also joined and shared their views regarding the state and evolution of collaboration between the various stakeholders in the ecosystem. Entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to exhibit their products during the forum.

The last day of the workshop gave stakeholders from the private and public sectors, financial and development agencies to discuss the role that each and everyone has to play to support startups and help them succeed. « I expect start-ups to engage, network and find areas of collaboration, » said Nanko Madu, programme director at Afrilabs.

With this in mind, Hannah Subayi Kamuanga, an impact investor representing Proparco, urged startups to « be ambitious and raise the bar ». She urged them to apply for various funding opportunities such as the program Fuze, a financing tool set up Digital Africa, a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD Group). « There is no reason why the DRC Congo should not be among the beneficiaries of this funding program. I strongly encourage you to apply and raise commercial funds and hence scale quicker and more efficiently, » she insisted.

The ecosystem engagement workshop coincided with the launch of the Francophone Afrilabs Academy. This academy is designed to equip managers and staff of African hubs with the training and management skills necessary to improve their ability and capacity to support emerging and growing startups.