Global fellowship programme Venture for Africa (VFA) has opened applications for its inaugural cohort, which aims to match skilled global talent with leading African tech startups. VFA is a new initiative created by Aaron Fu, Thea Sokolowski, Tobi Lafinhan and Stephanie Gogo, which aims to fill talent gaps at African startups via a three-month immersive fellowship programme. During the programme, fellows work with startup partners who are hiring now to access workshops from expert mentors in their field, work on real project deliverables for their assigned startup, gain local, in-market context in a startup environment, and get fast-tracked through application processes for a potential full-time role. Given the current COVID-19 environment, all fellowships for its first cohort – which the company is calling the C19 Remote Fellowship – will be remote. Startups participating in the first cohort include Sokowatch, Turaco and OkHi. The programme is designed for African nationals looking to move from corporate to startup work, Africans in the Diaspora looking to return to the continent, and foreign nationals looking to find meaningful work at a startup on the continent. “Venture for Africa was really born out of conversations we’ve had again and again about the challenges startups in Africa face when it comes to filling talent gaps,” Venture for Africa co-founder Tobi Lafinhan said. “At the same time we’re all seeing these talented people in our networks in Africa and around the world who really want to break into the startup ecosystem, but struggle to find ways of getting a foot in the door. With the opportunities we’re seeing amid the COVID-19 crisis – including great talent suddenly finding themselves out of work – we realised now is the perfect time to make this happen.” In the interest of filling roles as soon as possible, the VFA team and participating startups have committed to expedite normal application timelines and let candidates know whether they have been fast-tracked within two weeks of applying, with a goal of launching the programme by June 1.