UNDP’s Timbuktoo initiative to help spur the startup revolution across Africa.

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The Timbuktoo initiative, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa has been launched in Nigeria with the aim of mobilising and investing $1 billion in public and private funding over the next decade to help spur the startup revolution across Africa.

The event, which was held in Lagos, brought together representatives from a wide range of organisations including governments, private sector, development partners, universities as well as start-ups.

According to the organisers, timbuktoo will be a game-changing addition to UNDP Africa’s mission to transform the African continent by leveraging the people themselves, especially its ambitious, dynamic youth, as the key to its growth and path out of poverty.

Eight private-sector-driven Pan-African timbuktoo hubs, each focusing on a different priority area and housing a Venture Builder and a Venture Fund, are expected to be developed across Africa.

UNDP Africa Chief Innovation Officer, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, said “Timbuktoo is a big, innovative, and unique initiative to overcome the present vacuum in early-stage risk capital, to better integrate African innovation stakeholders from universities to corporates to investors, and to enable startups to embrace the African market opportunity.

“We ‘reopening a timbuktoo hub in Lagos and we hope to utilize Africa’s youth brilliance to make it a worldwide knowledge and innovation powerhouse.

The initiative is multifaceted and seeks to support and grow innovative, scalable, and impactful entrepreneurship by young Africans. It does this by relying on a springboard of partners who, when working together, make a big difference in building an innovation and startup ecosystem for young Africans.”

The timbuktoo approach will be based on finding, nurturing, and building African solutions put forward by Africa’s youth that directly address one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“In UNDP Nigeria, we prioritize innovation. That’s why we continue to invest. So, it wasn’t hard to convince the Timbuktoo team to set up a hub here in Lagos, Nigeria. This initiative is based on the belief that to achieve the SDGs, we must work hand in hand with the private sector and embrace a bold and innovative reality in which the future will be driven by technology and innovation. It is founded on the belief that exceptional achievement by ambitious and talented young people will move the needle in Africa and allow us to finally achieve our SDG targets. Our job as UNDP is to ensure the development, success and prosperity of this country. That is the future we all want,” said Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Nigeria Representative.