October 12, 2017



Wayra UK, part of Telefónica Open Future_, is continuing to support diversity in the UK tech sector with a new push to recruit start-ups with links to Africa.

At a Gala event at the Tate Modern in London, start-ups with African roots, or who are seeking to develop connections to Africa, will pitch to a high-level audience including business leaders, celebrities and politicians from both Africa and Europe.

The winning start-ups will be fast-tracked into the finals for the Wayra Call, Wayra UK’s annual process to select companies for its leading London-based acceleration programme. They will also be invited to join the trade delegation that will visit South Africa and Cape Town as part of the Startup Europe Comes to Africa (SEC2A) Road Trip, an innovative new initiative that seeks to bring the African and European tech ecosystems closer together.

In South Africa, the trade mission will be sponsored (see sponsorship from) by Injini, Wesgro and the Brenthurst Foundation. In Nigeria, it will be sponsored by the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK, said: “Tech talent is not limited to any race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or geographical region. We believe that the general lack of diversity in tech probably has less to do with a lack of talent within any particular group than it has to do with a lack of role models and access to opportunities. Wayra UK will do everything in its power to change that, and tonight’s event is just one step in the right direction.”

With Africa’s population expected to grow by nearly 500 million people by 2030*, the opportunity for tech companies to expand in the continent is huge. However, black people represent less than 2% of the workforce for many of the world’s largest tech companies**, and African tech talent remains a resource that has been largely untapped by major corporates to date.

The gala event will include a fireside chat with Herman Chinery-Hesse, a Ghanaian entrepreneur who has been described as the Bill Gates of Ghana, a ‘pitch slam’ of 8 start-ups with founders of African descent or with products looking to scale to Africa, and a talk by a representative of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative, who will speak about what the Commission is doing to promote trade between Africa and Europe.

As well as being one of the UK’s best acceleration programmes, Wayra UK has been a leading advocate of diversity in the country’s tech sector. In addition to supporting numerous events and initiatives that promote diversity and break down barriers preventing different groups from becoming involved in tech, Wayra has opened up accelerators across the UK to ensure that entrepreneurs across the country have access to our networks of customers, partners, investors and coaches. Over 45% of companies accelerated by Wayra in the last two years have at least one female founder, a figure well above the industry average.



** http://uk.businessinsider.com/being-black-in-silicon-valley-2016-7/#silicon-valleys-diversity-problem-has-been-well-documented-over-the-past-few-years-most-tech-workers-are-white-or-asian-men-there-are-not-a-whole-lot-of-women-or-black-people-in-the-industry-1

Wayra UK

Wayra UK is part of Telefónica Open Future_, the open innovation programme that integrates the different initiatives of the whole Telefónica Group related to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Wayra UK gives direct funding, acceleration and pre-acceleration services (such as co-working space, connectivity services, mentoring, access to Wayra UK’s network and knowhow, training in entrepreneurship and business skills) to selected start-ups. Since its launch in 2012, Wayra UK start-ups have raised approximately $150m in third-party investment.

Wayra UK has partnered with some of the world’s leading organisations to invest in a number of verticals that help generate growth, create positive societal impact and fuel innovation across a number of industries.

These include Velocity Health with Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited (MSD), a global healthcare company transforming healthcare; Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), through the GCHQ Cyber Accelerator; our Wayra Fair By Design programme, which seeks to alleviate the poverty premium; and the Intelligent Mobility Accelerator, a partnership with the Transport Systems Catapult.

Wayra UK also works alongside local and regional partners to reinvigorate entrepreneurial ecosystems, energise local economies and democratise entrepreneurship.

Telefónica Open Future_

Telefónica Open Future_ is Telefónica’s global platform designed to connect the company to entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors and public and private partners around the world to capture innovation and business opportunities. Its goal is to support talent at all stages of growth through a comprehensive model for acceleration that is designed to connect talent with organisations, investors and companies.

The programme incorporates all of Telefónica Group’s open innovation, entrepreneurship and investment initiatives (Think Big, Talentum, Crowdworking, Wayra, Amérigo and Telefónica Ventures) through a global network that is open to participation by external partners that wish to develop their own entrepreneurial and investment strategies, and connect to large corporates.

To date, more than 51,000 proposals have been analysed, over 1,600 start-ups have been accelerated, and over 700 invested in. Telefónica Open Future_ is present in 17 countries and has committed to investment, with its partners, a total of 445 million euros.

More info: https://www.openfuture.org/en


Kym Andrew, Head of PR, Comms and Events, Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future_ (UK): e: kym.andrewc@wayra.org

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