Business grants present an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners to secure funds that can propel their startups forward. These grants specifically target African entrepreneurs and startups, providing them with financial support to advance their enterprises.

These funding opportunities cater to various needs, such as business development, employee salaries, and advertising expenses. Unlike loans that require repayment with possible interest, business grants for African entrepreneurs do not need to be paid back.

Securing these grants involves meeting specific criteria, such as completing registration and providing necessary documentation. However, competition for these grants can be stiff, and challenges such as incomplete registrations or inadequate documentation may arise, hindering successful grant acquisition.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of business grants for African entrepreneurs are substantial. They offer a means to access capital without incurring debt, allowing businesses to focus on growth and innovation. While not every startup may be selected for grants, persistence and thorough preparation can improve the chances of success in obtaining these valuable resources.

Read also: Seven essential tools to launch and grow your startup

Here are six funding opportunities African Startups should look out for:

TEF (Tony Elumelu Foundation)

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is a leading grant opportunity for African startups seeking funding, mentorship, and networking. This program empowers aspiring and existing African entrepreneurs across all 54 countries.

TEF Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) is their flagship program. Applications typically open in January. They target businesses operating in any sector with high growth potential.

TEEP has several benefits, including a non-refundable seed capital of $5,000, world-class business training and mentorship, as well as access to a network of entrepreneurs and investors

For your start-up to be eligible, you must be a citizen of an African nation and have a business idea or existing business (0-5 years old). You must demonstrate its scalability and potential for impact.

How to Apply:

Applications are submitted through TEFConnect, the Foundation’s online platform. Detailed information and resources are also available to enable you to craft a competitive application.

TEF prioritises emerging businesses with the potential to create jobs and contribute to Africa’s economic transformation. Even if not selected this year, unsuccessful applicants can reapply in future rounds. 

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a launchpad for Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs. If you have a promising startup idea, consider applying for the TEEP program and take your business to the next level.


YEDI (Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative) will offer a grant to support African firms in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.

Later this year, the funding will be announced at a critical period when the African startup ecosystem is growing and evolving. YEDI empowers young entrepreneurs, especially from marginalised communities, by providing financial aid, mentorship, and starting resources.

The programme seeks to identify and encourage entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to African community problems. This could include healthcare, education, agriculture, and sustainable development.

Using Africa’s vast innovation and entrepreneurship potential, YEDI’s project supports economic and social development across the continent.

YEDI hopes to create a ripple effect of job creation, economic development, and positive social change in Africa by developing and investing in young entrepreneurs.

African entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts eagerly await YEDI’s projected grant as a chance to implement their unique ideas and advance the continent.

Innovation Prize for Africa

Africa’s booming startup scene is brimming with potential. From tackling local challenges like agricultural inefficiency to developing game-changing health tech solutions, these ventures drive the continent’s economic and social progress. However, securing funding remains a significant hurdle for many entrepreneurs, and this is where the prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) steps in, offering a vital springboard for African innovators. Here’s why the IPA should be at the top of your grant application list:

Focus on market-driven solutions: The IPA prioritises commercially viable innovations that directly address African communities’ critical issues, ensuring that funded solutions have a tangible impact and contribute to sustainable development across the continent.

Broad sectoral reach: The IPA encourages applications from various sectors, including agriculture and agribusiness, health and wellbeing, information and communication technologies (ICTs), manufacturing and service industries, environment, and energy and water. It fosters a holistic approach to African progress by supporting advancements in various crucial areas.

Life-changing financial boost: The IPA offers a substantial USD 150,000 grand prize, providing a critical financial injection for scaling an innovative venture, and this allows entrepreneurs to overcome funding bottlenecks and accelerate their growth trajectory.

Enhanced visibility and recognition: Being recognised by the IPA is a significant honour that elevates an entrepreneur’s profile and attracts further investment opportunities. Shortlisted and winning innovators gain valuable exposure within the African and global innovation ecosystem, opening doors to potential partnerships and funding avenues.

Eligibility for the Innovation Prize for Africa

The idea Prize for Africa eligibility, your idea must be developed and driven by Africans and solve African concerns (ensuring that the solutions meet regional needs). The proposed solution should also demonstrate commercial solid potential, meaning it has a clear path to becoming a successful and profitable business. The application process is accessible, with submissions accepted in English, French, or Portuguese.

The Innovation Prize for Africa is a unique opportunity for African innovators to secure the financial backing, recognition, and mentorship needed to bring their groundbreaking ideas to life. By leveraging this prestigious grant program, African entrepreneurs can propel their ventures forward, contribute to solving Africa’s pressing challenges, and drive positive change across the continent.

Y Combinator

Y Combinator is a well-known startup accelerator that provides new firms with seed funding, coaching, and connections by supplying them with both of these things. 2005 marked the beginning of Y Combinator, which currently offers two programmes that each endure for three months. 

In exchange for a 7% equity stake, it invests sixteen thousand dollars in each business. Through participation in the programme, participants will have the opportunity to receive intensive coaching, enhance their pitches, and network with key members of the business community. 

Y Combinator was established to support firms in improving their products, increasing their customer base, and negotiating funding opportunities. 

The accelerator is founded on the principles of mass production processes that are used for the funding of new businesses or startups. In addition to providing advice rather than directives, it places the founders’ interests at the top of its list of priorities. 

The commitment of Y Combinator to supporting founders, fostering a culture that is supportive of businesses, and developing compassion and knowledge among its team members is the primary factor that has contributed to the company’s success.


Techstars, a prominent investor in African startups, has recently launched a new funding initiative to boost the continent’s tech sector. The program, a collaboration with ARM Labs based in Lagos, has selected a diverse group of 12 startups from over a thousand applicants for its second cohort.

The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator program empowers entrepreneurs using technology to solve Africa’s unique challenges and opportunities. Expanding beyond its original focus on FinTech and PropTech, the program now includes sectors like Logistics, E-commerce, Health, Renewable Energy, and the Future of Work.

The startups, originating from Ghana, Nigeria, and East Africa, showcase the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit. The cohort is also notable for its gender diversity, with four teams having at least one female co-founder.

Each startup will receive funding of up to $120,000 and access to resources worth over $400,000, including hosting, accounting, and legal support. Techstars provides mentorship and network access to help these startups scale and make a significant impact.

During the 14-week intensive program, the startups will have lifelong access to the Techstars global network and opportunities to engage with potential investors. The partnership with ARM Labs offers the founders local insights, research, and financial advisory expertise.

Techstars’ investment underscores the potential of African startups and the increasing global investor interest in the continent’s tech industry. This move presents a substantial opportunity for these startups to expedite their growth and contribute to Africa’s technological and economic progress.

Read also: Top tech skills for women: breaking into the Industry with confidence


SMEDAN (Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria) is an agency set up to look into the affairs of small and medium-scale businesses in Nigeria. It has been observed that these businesses contribute to the economy enormously, from offering employment and self-employment to solving job scarcity and hunger.

To encourage this, the government, through this agency, also offers support to small and medium-sized businesses. In April 2024 alone, SMEDAN offered loans, grants, financial literacy, and support to women-owned businesses. Last week, no less than 500 market men, women, and youths were trained by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, and Microsoft Nigeria on using Artificial Intelligence to boost their businesses.

Finance is a significant factor in the progress of any business; with all these available supports, intelligent entrepreneurs can leverage these to boost their business operations.

Contributors: Temitayo Olumofe, Modupe Olalere, Ladele Joy, Felicia Akindurodoye, Olanrewaju Adeniyi, Ibukun Bankole, Hauwa Ali