Berlin-based Propel raises €2.5 million to grow tech talent communities within underrepresented groups
Propel, a Berlin-based HR-tech startup with offices in Lisbon and Lagos that developed a managed services platform for communities and talent, has secured a €2.5 million funding round led by Amsterdam-based No Such Ventures, with participation from APX (Axel Springer & Porsche), Golden Egg Check, and Future of Learning Fund.
Founded by Sunkanmi Ola, Seun Owolabi, and Abel Agoi in 2020, the startup builds tools that tech talent communities (developer groups, talent incubators, training schools etc.) use to solve their last-mile problems – like connecting their members to jobs, financial services (loans, asset financing), and other perks and benefits. Propel offers this ‘value stack’ as an all-in-one platform that communities use to serve their members more effectively.
Propel works with 100+ tech communities across 15 countries that serve roughly 400,000 members. Highlights include SheCodeAfrica, one of Africa’s largest female-focused communities; Ingressive for Good, an open community that trains thousands of people in tech annually; Niyo Network, a UK-based organization that runs Web2 and Web3 bootcamps for underrepresented women; and others like Datafest, People In Product, Friends of Figma, and various Google Developer Groups. Communities in Propel’s ecosystem vary widely, by size, by location, gender distribution, tech stack, etc.
According to Sunkanmi Ola, Co-founder and CEO of Propel, communities are the building blocks of any ecosystem, and tech communities, especially across high-growth markets like Africa and within underrepresented groups, have emerged in their thousands to cover the massive gaps in education, capacity building, and inclusion. They discover, up-skill, and mentor talent; organize hackathons, events, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and respond to global trends quicker than is possible for traditional institutions.
“However, they are constantly on the lookout for how to solve problems faced by their members and become more financially sustainable, while still pushing to achieve their impact goals. That’s a very tall order. But by giving communities access to a plug-in platform that solves their last mile, Propel helps them focus on what they know how to do best. And with communities being able to grow and connect deeper on a local level, Propel is looking to tangibly impact the growth of millions of people on a scale that has not been seen before”, Ola said.
To date, the company which was founded in 2020 has raised over €3 million, and was one of the winners of the Google Black Founders Fund in Europe last summer. The new funds would be deployed into scaling its community platform, launching new tools in its value stack, and deepening its ecosystem of communities.
Speaking about the raise, Sophie Heijenberg, investor at No Such Ventures said “Propel’s unique, community-focused approach to driving the open talent economy sets them apart and is a solid addition to the Future of Work category. We’re bullish about their roadmap, and super-excited to partner with them on this growth journey.”
Mariama Boumanjal, Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Manager Europe and Africa: “If we want technology to work for everyone, it needs to be built by everyone. Propel’s inclusive approach to tackling the global skills shortage problem is inspiring. We are proud to have supported them through our program, and excited for what they’d do next.”