Launched by the World Bank Group in 2017, World Bank’s L’Afrique Excelle Programme is the Francophone edition of XL Africa, a successful pan-African accelerator. Since the completion of its first edition, half of the XL Africa portfolio has successfully secured almost $18 M in funding.

The World Bank’s L’Afrique Excelle programme is searching for 20 scalable companies in the late seed or pre-series, keen on discovering high-development startups from Francophone Africa that are hoping to raise between the range of $250,000 and $5 million

During this six-month business acceleration programme, entrepreneurs will receive mentoring from both global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their brand visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors, through collaboration with prominent Francophone Africa-focused investment groups.


  • Your start-up is for profit and registered, with a team of at least three people
  • A digital or tech product/service currently available in the market
  • Either based in or deriving at least 75% of turnover in one or several of the following Francophone Africa markets: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, DRC, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo
  • You have a very strong management team
  • You can demonstrate tangible traction, evidence of revenue and potential to scale
  • You are seeking investment capital in the range of $250K – $5M
  • While there will be exceptions, most likely your startup has already received investment capital, as debt or equity, or received grants from donor organizations or prize money from competitions.

Language requirement

  • The main language of this program is French, so fluent French is a requirement for participation. The application has to be submitted in French, the interviews will be in French, and the majority of Mali and France residency sessions will be in French.
  • The final pitch at the Venture Showcase, however, has to be delivered in English, so an intermediate level of English proficiency is desirable.


To select the top 20 startups, World Bank’s L’Afrique Excelle programme will consider:

Commercial Value of your Product/Service (25%)

  • The company addresses a real problem in the market. The digital or tech solution is different from others in the industry. The product or service is catalyzing social change.

Strategy for Growth (25%)

  • There is potential to expand locally and into new markets. We can see demonstrable progress and your startup is scalable.

Management (25%)

  • The team has the qualifications needed to make the business successful.

Market Traction & Financials (25%)

  • The market traction and potential market size will be evaluated. World Bank’s L’Afrique Excelle Programme will also look at the business model, revenue streams and unit economics, and if any outside funding has been raised before.
  • The 20 finalists are expected to participate in the one-week residency in Mali (March 25-30, 2019), where the final cohort of 10 will be selected.
The selected 10 startups will proceed with the rest of the program and are expected to:
  • Engage regularly with mentors (4-6 hours a month) over 6 months
  • Remember it’s a two-way street – both mentors and mentees learn and commit to this relationship. In many cases, we expect these relationships to last long after the program has ended
  • Over 6 months, participate in up to 5 virtual webinar sessions run by global experts with inputs from leading African and US investors and successful entrepreneurs
  • Participate in the one-week residency in France (Monday, May 13-Saturday 18, 2019), including the Venture Showcase at the VivaTech event in Paris
  • Engage with your peers part of the cohort, along with mentors, investors and strategic partners.
  • Come with an open mind and be willing to learn and collaborate

How to Apply

If interested, apply by visiting the website. Deadline for all application is Monday, January 14, 2019. Programme date is Monday, March 25, 2019.

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