Request for Expression of Interest: Pan-African Acceleration Program

Please respond to this call for EOI, indicating, via the World Bank’s eConsult system, at: selection # 1218077, no later than 11.59 pm on Wednesday, 11 May, 2016. Please note that concise documents are appreciated. Successful firms at the REOI stage will be invited to develop full proposals at the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage.


The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Unit, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank Group, is looking for organizations with experience running incubation and acceleration programs for digital technology entrepreneurs and who are able to design and execute the required tasks from start to finish.


The Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) Unit within the World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice focuses on improving the capabilities and growth prospects of firms as well as developing the ecosystems that directly support them and the broader innovation and entrepreneurship systems.

I&E’s Digital Entrepreneurship Program (DEP) helps clients empower digital technology entrepreneurs to bring locally-relevant, innovative products to emerging and frontier markets, as a key step in achieving equitable access to the opportunities created by the digital economy. It does so through two mutually-reinforcing approaches:

1) Supporting incubators, accelerators, and early-stage financing at the country and/or regional-level;

2) Conducting learning and knowledge activities, including evaluations of practical interventions and research on industry trends, entrepreneurship ecosystems, and the role of digital entrepreneurship for trade, productivity, competitiveness, and shared prosperity.

The DEP pioneered digital/ICT incubators (mLabs), and networking organizations (mHubs) in 12 locations: Kenya (mLab and mHub), South Africa (mLab), Senegal (CTIC incubator), Uganda (mHub), Tanzania (Dar Teknohama incubator and mHub), Vietnam (mHub and mLab), Nepal (mHub), Armenia (mLab), Georgia (mHub), Moldova (mHub), Azerbaijan (mHub) and the Caribbean (mHub). In nearly all cases, this involved partnerships with private sector actors (e.g. Nokia at the global level, and many other private sector partners at the local and regional levels) as well as with governments, academia, and non-profit organizations.

In addition, I&E’s infoDev program implemented a number of initiatives to support the cultivation of angel investors, improve the readiness of startups for investment and internationalization in these and other locations around the world, and understand the particular challenges of entrepreneurs operating at the “base of the pyramid.” Overall, the demand for services delivered through these enablers greatly exceeded the supply. At the same time, the level of sophistication of the startups and the digital ecosystems in which they work has increased, creating growing demand for more advanced programming delivered by digital enablers and for more rigorous analytics and understanding of what drives functional entrepreneurship ecosystems.

In FY15-FY19, infoDev’s Digital Entrepreneurship Program continues to invest in digital entrepreneurship enablers seeded during the first phase of the DEP, and to build the capacity of the enablers to meet the needs of entrepreneurs at different stages of growth. This includes a greater emphasis on access to finance and regional acceleration  activities to build a pipeline of talent for the Pan-African Acceleration Program.  Access to Finance activities seek to enable and assist entrepreneurs in identifying appropriate sources of capital (investors), preparing them for fundraising, and for approaching investors. In support of these activities, the DEP team is working closely with the mLabs in Senegal, Kenya, and South Africa to execute regional programs designed to support the scaling and internationalization of growth-oriented entrepreneurs. Top performing companies from the regional acceleration programs will be invited to apply for the Pan-African Acceleration Program that includes a greater focus on assisting startups with integration into supply chains and global markets, along with raising growth capital.


The project is designed to pilot Pan-African acceleration services to the most promising, growth-oriented digital startups in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The firm will partner with mLab Southern Africa (mLab SA) to deliver the accelerator program.

The Firm’s assignment is to: (1) design and develop the Pan-African Acceleration training curriculum and content to match the needs of growth-oriented digital entrepreneurs; and (2) collaborate with the mLab Southern Africa to implement the curriculum for selected entrepreneurs, including coordinating all related logistics; and (3) facilitate a daylong workshop for mLab staff from Senegal, Kenya and South Africa to learn about acceleration program design and curricula. In addition, in collaboration with the infoDev team, the Firm will be responsible for data collection in the context of Monitoring and Evaluation.

The Firm is expected to facilitate the first round of the acceleration program. Activities include selection of, mentoring, coaching, market and finance facilitation to participants. During this period, participating digital startups as well as other local business enablers are expected to significantly increase their project implementation skills and institutional capacity.

The project does not include provision of seed funding to participating startups; however, the Firm is expected to attract financiers as partners for this program to allow entrepreneurs to connect with, and commence negotiations with interested investors, such as the African Business Angels Network, CRE, VC4Africa network, Endeavor Catalyst and others.

Feedback during the project implementation will need to be systematically collected and analyzed.

All responsibilities will be overseen by the World Bank Group, including external communications and PR, as well as monitoring and evaluation activities.

Additional details can be found in the attached TOR. Please note that the full proposal is not needed at the REOI stage.

Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI)

Please respond to this call for EOI, indicating, via the World Bank’s eConsult system, at:, selection # 1218077, no later than 11.59 pm on Wednesday, 11 May, 2016.

Please note that concise documents are appreciated. Successful firms at the REOI stage will be invited to develop full proposals at the Request for Proposals stage. We sincerely thank all interested Firms for their application.

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