The Value of Diversity in an Accelerator Class

By Audrey Cheng  |  April 14, 2014


Savannah Fund’s third accelerator class boasts startups from three different countries: Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. And we intentionally chose a diverse class.
In the first week of the accelerator class, startup founders have engaged in discussions that go beyond the typical ‘how to best build your business’ topics and into conversations around country governments, policies and rules and even transportation in their respective countries. We value diversity at Savannah Fund, because it gives our cohorts a rich experience, and we hope that by sharing where they come from, they will learn from the others and reflect on strengths and weaknesses in the ecosystem they’re trying to build their business.

We saw a diversity of opinion at the most basic level, when we asked the founders what their expectations of Nairobi was before they arrived. The Nigerian team shared how they thought it was colder than they expected and the Ghanian founder shared how he thought it was warmer than he expected. Just this one detail shows how an experience with an accelerator in a different country can open their eyes up to ‘what else is out there’ in order for them to ¬†open their eyes up to potential new ways to build their own startups. Perception and perspective comes from experience and with our startup founders coming from individually unique experiences, we encourage them to share their experiences to bolster stronger ideas and execution for their businesses.

Ultimately, we hope our startup founders can support each other in a variety of ways. First, we want them to continue sharing their experiences and feedback with one another so as to build a community around our startups. Creating startups is sometime a lonely experience, and we want our startups to understand that there are people going through the same thing willing to support them. Also, when a startup wishes to expand to another country and needs insight and guidance on what to be aware of, we hope this community can rise up and support the plans of this one startup.

Overall, the diversity of our previous classes and this class has been indicative of one of our core values: diversity. In order to grow and enrich Africa’s tech startup ecosystem, we believe that investing in people with different experiences is one of the first steps to doing so.