Platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa: startup models and the role of business incubation


Purpose- The purpose of this paper is to examine the startup models adopted by entrepreneurs in launching platform enterprises, and the effectiveness of business incubators across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Data reflecting origin, models, services, ownership and other variables were collected on over 600 platforms and 196 incubators, and were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Findings- Market portfolio of the platform startups is dominated by independent models, as incubators and accelerators were found to be inadequate in platform establishment within the region in terms of the services rendered to incubatees. The results also indicate that private ownership still dominates the startup ecosystem with a scant presence of public participation and almost a complete absence of public-private partnerships. This exploratory study is constrained by a limited access to information on the platform ecosystem within the SSA region, curbing the scope of empirical work; but serves as a foundation for further investigations within the domain. The paper highlights the imperative for African Governments to make conscious efforts in driving enabling policies that will help bridge the gaps identified in facilitating the development of the region’s emergent platform economy. The paper empirically elucidates the limited availability of critical resources necessary in supporting the successful development and growth of platform startups; and helps explain why the platform ecosystem within the region, though very active in the last decade, has not been laden with landmark and scaled innovations.

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