One of the few locally owned and NGO-free incubators on the African continent, Spark, announced last Friday that they have raised $2 million to invest in Nigerian startups. The incubator, which the co-founder – iROKOtv founder Jason Njoku – actually says is more a conglomerate of companies than a traditional companies invests amounts $50,000 and $250,000 in startups which are then “incubated” as part of the Spark companies.
The $2 million is in addition to an amount of $1 million that the company says it has invested in startups since launch 3 months ago. The new money, according to Njoku in a blog post he did today, is mostly from some “17 largely non-Africans across” in Europe and Asia. Local Nigerian money, he says, is not quite ready for the level of risk in their startups and the valuations tey are investing at.
Some of the startups already incubated by Spark include Hotels.ng, a hotel booking startup; propertypro.ng/, a home rentals classifieds; and Giddimint, a fashion eCommerce startup. You can see a full list on the spark site here.
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Spark is one of a few incubators in Sub-Saharan Africa run purely commercially, free of NGO funding. We think this is quite remarkable and that they demonstrate the real economic opportunities the improved access to mobile and internet technologies has brought to the continent.