XL Africa Info Session 1

On Wednesday 10th May, we ran our first online info session! It was great to speak to so many potential program participants, to be able to answer your questions and tell you more about the program. Natalia Pipia, XL Africa team leader, started by introducing the team, before Steven Koltai, XL Africa mentoring lead, gave a short presentation about XL Africa. The floor was then opened up for questions. 

We recorded the session and it can be viewed below


Below are all the questions asked in the session with answers from the team. Of course, if you still have more questions, please email us at info@xl-africa.com.

If you're interested, we're running a second online session on May 23rd. It will focus on the same theme; a program overview followed by a Q&A. Please click here to register to attend. 

We look forward to receiving your applications!

The XL Africa Team


Will the next session focus on the same theme?

Indeed. These two sessions are to make sure all of your questions are answered.

Must I have got seed investment before I qualify?

It’s not a requirement but traction is important and funding is usually a good indicator of traction.

If I already have an investor can I still apply?

Yes, please do apply.

What if I am registered in a different country?

XL Africa has a strong preference for firms registered in sub Saharan Africa. We will consider firms that may have registered offices in a different country, but will assess to what extent the management and operations are based in an eligible country.

How will you be judging ‘traction’? What are the main indicators analysed by XL Africa?

Turnover, profit, number of customers, growth in new clients, letters of intent, previous funding, any awards you may have won.

I am from a French speaking country. Can I still apply?

Of course! We have been recruiting specialist mentors from your region so we will be able to link you up with French speaking mentors. However, the XL Academy and the residency will both be conducted in English, so there is some benefit of being able to understand English.

Is it good if my company has already been through an accelerator programme?

It usually says something positive about the company, yes.

Is it possible to edit my application?

Yes, you can edit your application on VC4A’s platform before you submit it. However, once submitted, you cannot edit your application. Please start a new application.

We are looking for a round which is larger than you were proposing? Would you be part of a round?

XL Africa does not have a fund and does not invest directly into companies. XL Africa is designed to support companies to access investors. Yes, XL Africa would be willing to accept companies into the program who are looking for a funding round in excess of $1,500,000. We would be happy to provide to access to investors who could contribute to larger funding rounds.

My business is 8 months old now - do I stand a chance to apply for this program?

Yes, the age of your business does not necessarily reflect how developed it is. As long as you match the eligibility criteria, please apply!

Will a key strategic partnership also qualify as traction?

Yes, we would count this as third party validation of your company and encourage you to mention it on your application.

Is there a rule to select only one business type per industry; can multiple businesses in the same industry be selected?

Yes, multiple businesses in the same industry could be selected. We are looking for the 20 best digital start-ups.

Please define digital start-ups?

Our definition is a start-up that incorporates the Internet, mobile and/or technology as tools to deliver products and services to users and customers.

My product is ready and is being tested in the market. I have no paying customers yet. Should I apply?

We are looking for companies that have already demonstrated traction. It is unlikely this could be successfully demonstrated if your product is not yet on the market with paying customers.

Is this the first time XL is being organised?

Yes, this is the first time XL Africa is running. We see more high quality companies well positioned for growth and why the time is right for a program like this!

In terms of scaling across Africa what resources can we leverage on via XL Africa?

There are multiple resources.

1.       XL Africa has developed an Academy of interactive content to support you to develop practical skills to help you secure investment and design for growth. Topics 4 and 5 of the Academy are useful in this regard.

2.       In some cases corporate partnerships will be the pathway for cross-border expansion. XL Africa will engage our corporate partners – supporting companies to make strategic partnerships to support scaling across Africa.

3.       Peers networks can support you to understand how to scale across Africa. There will be structured peer to peer session where entrepreneurs can learn first-hand about challenges and opportunities of working in other Africa countries.

4.       Our pool of mentors will have experience in the topic and can support entrepreneurs as needed.

May I know whether the amount involved is equity or grant?

XL Africa is not directly investing into any companies. Any negotiations on investment terms will be made directly between you and the investor. Of course, XL Africa will be on hand to support the process.

Do financials include audited books?

Yes, having audited statements is always a sign of a professional organization.

I do not have a website, am I eligible to apply?

We would expect a digital start-up to have a website. However, if you do not have a website you are still eligible to apply.

Will XL Academy run annually after 2017?

The XL Academy will be available on the VC4A website for registered users following the completion of XL Africa.

Can I apply as a sole proprietor?

XL Africa is designed to support start-ups access and secure investment. Selected start-ups will need to have a vehicle to receive investment.

We have already reached breakeven and we want to expand into other countries. Should we apply?

Yes, please apply.

Would you advise working with a consultant to make this application?

We recommend using any resources which you feel would help improve you application. Our application process includes an interview where we will assess the capabilities of the management team.

My Business is a social media platform, does it qualify to compete based on tech category in the stated criteria?

Yes, it is using a “digital” solution to connect people.

For successful start-ups at the end of the selection, how would the funds be disbursed, would it be down to the external investors who are keen to invest or there is a structure by XL Africa of how this would happen?

This would be between you and the investor that decides to invest in your company.

If we have specific questions on specific areas (Agriculture), can we contact you directly?

Yes, please contact us at info@xl-africa.com

My company provides digital advertising using programmatic technology and machine learning. Am I qualified?


We develop the product before incorporating.  We alsodeveloped some of the code with grants received for very limited scope. We just setting up a new company that would extend the solution. Can we use the tractionfrom these Grants?

Yes, any and all traction should be highlighted in your application.

Would XL Africa be interested with a startup in crowdfunding industry?

Yes, if it incorporates a digital solution.

Can a telecommunications company apply for your program?


My company falls under the tourism sector. Am I eligible?

If your company is working in the tourism sector, and is also building off digital infrastructure, for example, eCommerce, then yes.

Is there a possibility of making the final 20 and still not get any investments from the investors that has been introduced to the company?

Participation in XL Africa does not guarantee investment. Our goal is to ensure you are well prepared, and are matched to relevant investors.

What traction in numbers/sales are you looking at per month?

There is no set figure for traction. It is up to you to define the traction based upon the market you are operating within.

As a start-up with traction in an existing product, however, we want to apply using a new product which is in beta testing. Can we apply?

We do not support products, we support start-ups and teams. We welcome applications from companies with multiple products. If you have a new product and a new company, please provide us with information on both companies.

Can you give us more about great management team ?

No golden rules on this! Any assessment is looking at the management team to see they have core areas of expertise covered

What if there are only two founders in the company who form up the management team?

That’s fine – we expect selected companies to have 3 team members, but are flexible on their role within the organisation.

How can you ensure mentors and judges will not steal our idea?

XL Africa is also about companies further along. To this extent the idea shouldn’t necessarily be a secret any longer. That said, you should always think about who is asking for information and whether or not it makes sense for you as an entrepreneur to share it. We will support with non-disclosure agreements.

Since we are setting up a profile on vc4a platform, do we get any support if not shortlisted or better still what benefits are available?

 Yes, as an applicant to XL Africa you have free access to all VC4A entrepreneur services. So even if you are not selected for XL Africa you can still gain from joining up with the network. There are many programs and opportunities that can be useful to you

Will there be any feedback given to unsuccessful applicants?

Unfortunately, due to the large number of applications we have received, this will not be possible.

Are things like awards and other recognition considered third party validation?


Could the selected businesses have multiple portfolios.  That is, offering different types of digital products or services?


What is covered during the residency in Cape Town? 

Air fare, visa, hotel, food, and access to events for two members of your team.

Is it possible to actually raise series A funding during the program?

A lot of applicants are actively fundraising when they apply. So yes.

How many semi finalists will be there?

Around 30.

Do participating companies need to pay any finders fees for funds that are raised during the program?

No, they do not!

Does the program handle issues of patents and intellectual properties?

We do not file patents or intellectual property; however we have mentors who can provide advice on this topic.

Why are XL Africa doing this campaign and what are the objectives for yourself?

XL Africa is a pilot program, designed to add value to the African entrepreneurship eco-system. We have seen tremendous work from early stage accelerators and incubators – but infoDev have identified a gap in support for more mature companies. XL Africa is goal is to pilot a new model designed to support later stage companies and contribute to growth of Africa’s digital economy.

If you still have any further questions, please email us at info@xl-africa.com