Kenya-based financial technology (FinTech) firm Pezesha has won first place at the 2020 AFI Inclusive FinTech Showcase, after impressing AFI members and the panel of expert judges with an online pitch on how their solution is leading innovation in financial inclusion.
Pezesha, translated as “financial empowerment” from Kenyan Swahili, provides a digital platform where micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) can tap into finance after being matched with investors – including banks, microfinance institutions and other retail lenders – seeking to foster productivity and growth among small businesses.
Hilda Moraa, Pezesha’s founder and chief executive officer, connected via live feed to spotlight her company’s work in helping MSMEs across sub-Saharan Africa reach vital capital needed to grow their businesses.
“We are tackling the USD328 billion financing gap for MSMEs across sub-Saharan Africa … and the more than 50 million businesses that have been excluded and underserved,” she said.
Focusing on underserved markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pezesha, the competition’s second winner uses alternative transactional data from suppliers and partners to produce credit scores that give them access to credit for purchasing additional inventory. This is financed by investors using algorithms that aim to diversify risk by enabling lending to more secure small businesses.
Last year’s inaugural showcase event was won by OKO, which provides agricultural insurance to smallholder farmers in Mali.
“Everyone benefits in our value chain ecosystem: lenders can optimize their capital; suppliers can increase their network of merchants; and merchants can grow their inventory,” Moraa told the panel.
MSMEs can also use the platform, she explained, to learn about ways to increase their credit score by transacting through digital platforms and creating a digital presence. Its tools, she added, improve the knowledge and skills of customers by educating them on how to increase cash flows and safely expand their business.
Pezesha’s work also has strong links to several key AFI themes, having created a customer base that 80 percent youth and 60 percent women. According to Moraa, Pezesha has connected more than 20,000 youth MSMEs with working capital, leading to the creation of more than 1,000 formal sector jobs and 5,000 informal sector jobs.
Since its launch in 2017, Moraa said that the Pezesha has funded more than 75,000 loans to MSMEs, educated more than 200,000 MSMEs and disbursed more than USD2 million across Kenya.
Pezesha has also partnered with companies such as Google, PesaPoint, Mastercard and Letshego to expand its reach, including to groups frequently excluded groups, such as persons with disabilities and victims of gender-based violence.
Moraa hopes that strategic collaboration will help address the challenges of harmonization and that by speaking the AFI network, she will learn about ways forward on a regional and global level, as well as contribute her own experiences in going through sandbox processes and expanding her business into other countries.
Watch Pezesha’s winning pitch here!
Second place in this year’s competition went to Idemia, a France-based multinational technology company, which uses digital identification to aid in the enrolment and disbursal of funds, including government subsidies to low-income and vulnerable population. Its platform captures biometric data – facial and fingerprint identity – to create digital identities that can be used to access a range of financial services, including branchless banking.
Arifu, a Kenya-based social enterprise, came in third with its smart personal learning assistant and content marketplace that offers advice and financial skills training to vulnerable groups, including farmers, youth, women and MSMEs, through mobile phones. Users of both smart and feature phone can learn via SMS, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to develop new skills, discover products and services and earn rewards. According to the company, more than 1.5 million people have accessed Arifu’s services.
First, second and third placed finalists will be invited to participate in select activities of AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue platform and be awarded a one-year membership to Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), which provides practical training, education and research services for the FinTech community.
Congratulations to our top three finalists!
Below is a list of the remaining FinTech finalists (listed in alphabetical order):
Founded in 2013, Beyonic provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other organizations with a digital payments toolbox that provides an alternative to cash payments. It promotes business continuity and sustainable growth through remote payment and collection functionality in over nine markets in Africa through a range of last-mile delivery channels that include unstructured supplementary service data for feature phones and open application programming interfaces for apps.
Circulo de Credito
Circulo de Credito, a registered credit bureau in Mexico and Peru, empowers lending companies to reach markets that are not traditionally included for financial services. Recently, it created advanced analytic models to help lenders personalize lending solutions depending on a consumer’s financial maturity profile, a score that extends family-level credit behavior to include typically financially-excluded women as well as digital and legal biometric signatures to help disadvantaged groups sign up for loans through their phones.
cLabs is the team that developed Celo, an open blockchain platform that facilitates access to financial tools to mobile phone users. Its digital currency, the Celo Dollar stablecoin, can be sent to any phone number and aims to be accessible to all. Among the use cases developed on the Celo platform, Earn focuses on matching micro-work with integrated micro-payments.
One of the last year’s FinTech showcase finalists, KlickEx offers payments infrastructure focused on reducing settlement risks for central banks and providing cross-border transfer services dedicated to financial inclusion. Launched in 2009, the platform targets the formalization of remittances and informal development flows in the Pacific region, focusing on mobile money systems for the unbanked and retail sector services, including compliance.
Mosabi’s platform blends FinTech and education technology with artificial intelligence-driven business and life skills electronic learning for underserved citizens and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets. Through gamified lessons and unique journeys, users can learn about managing their business and money. Mosabi also connects users with relevant partner financial providers and platforms.
My Cash Online
MyCash Online is a Malaysia-based e-market that provides online services for migrants, including the purchasing of bus tickets, airline tickets, mobile top-ups and international reload or bill payments.
People’s Pension Trust
People’s Pension Trust, another of 2019’s finalists, provides pension products to people working in the formal and informal sector with the aim of reducing old-age poverty across Africa. A subsidiary of the Netherlands-based People’s Pension Holding, its goal is to provide affordable pension products to four million people in the informal sector by 2027.
Proto‘s conversational artificial intelligence solution automates consumer protection for central banks and financial supervisory authorities across Southeast Asia and Africa. Proto, another of last year’s finalists, aims to overcome the manual limitations of complaints processing and financial misconduct monitoring. It uses SMS and social messaging apps to provide channels for bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers.
From its operations hub in Jordan, Tanda offers access to alternative financial solutions through the introduction of online savings clubs via a mobile application. Tanda works with payment service providers to enable the transfer of payments electronically.
All 12 finalists will be featured in a special AFI report highlighting how their solutions contribute to financial inclusion and COVID-19 response, which will be disseminated across the AFI network, the wider financial inclusion community and beyond. Furthermore, they will be invited to a special dialogue session with AFI members hosting the Pacific Regional Regulatory Sandbox, the world’s first regional sandbox, and have access to a mentoring and training on pitching to investors and presenting business models provided by LHoFT.
The event is an initiative under the 2018 Sochi Accord, in which AFI’s membership committed to “create and participate in platforms for systemic dialogue and partnership among regulators and policymakers with FinTech companies and technology providers”.
It is supported through AFI’s Multi-Donor Financial Inclusion Policy Implementation Facility, with participation of French Development Agency (AFD), the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Ministry of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Watch all the finalists pitch their innovative solutions here!
AVCA Board appoints Abi Mustapha-Maduakor as CEO
AVCA CEO, Abi Mustapha-Maduakor (Source: AVCA)
AVCA: The Board of Directors of the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) is delighted to announce the appointment of Abi Mustapha-Maduakor as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Ms Mustapha-Maduakor joins AVCA from MedAccess, a subsidiary of CDC Group, where she was Head of Business Operations and Finance, overseeing financial and risk management, strategy implementation, and organisational development.
During her tenure as AVCA’s Chief Operating Officer from 2016 to 2019, Abi played an integral role in driving the Association’s strategy, prioritising knowledge exchange and digitisation. Under her leadership, the Association strengthened focus on data and pioneering research, professional development support for private equity stakeholders, and strategic regional partnerships, all of which grew the membership to around 150 investors collectively managing US$1.5trn in assets.
The appointment follows an extensive global search led by the Board.
Abi will take up the position on 1 February 2021, and there will be a transition period with interim CEO, Dara Owoyemi, until her departure.
‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Chair of the Board, said: “After a rigorous process, it was clear to the selection committee that Abi is the right leader for this chapter in AVCA’s life. Her knowledge of the African investment landscape, advocacy, business strategy and risk management will be instrumental in her role leading the Association through its next phase and transformation, as investors and portfolio companies navigate various social, economic, political and institutional challenges. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Dara Owoyemi for her immense support and guidance as we searched for a permanent CEO.”
Abi brings several years of finance and banking experience to the role. Previously, she was Special Adviser on private sector development to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment in Nigeria. She also held leadership positions at Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and EY.
Commenting on her appointment, Ms Mustapha-Maduakor said: “It is an honour to be appointed as CEO during this time of tremendous change in the global economy. As the Association’s new leader, my priority will be to build on the success of the past 20 years and transform AVCA into a conduit for diverse and varied sources of private investment in Africa. I look forward to working with the Board and team to deliver first-class member services, putting digital transformation, smart data and collaboration at the heart of our work.”A
Novarick Appoints Otonye Lolomari as Non-Executive Director
L-R: Non-Executive Director, Otonye Lolomari and Chief Executive Officer, Noah Ibrahim, both of Novarick Homes and Properties during the official presentation in Lekki, Lagos.
Novarick Homes and Properties Board of Directors has approved the appointment of Mr. Otonye Tony Lolomari as a Non-Executive Director. This takes effect from 21 of January, as the company is driven to reposition its management and business development for sustainable growth.
Lolomari brings over 24 years of industry experience which includes his position as a director of ICE Commercial Power in 2018, then moved to Chevron, Husky Energy and Schlumberger in Trinidad before joining the Novarick team. He also worked with leading companies and experts in different Continents like Europe, Africa and the USA.
According to Noah Ibrahim, CEO Novarick Homes, the new affiliation will position the company to make better decisions and propel the brand to a greater height. “We intend to continue collaborating with top professional within and outside our industry to achieve a well-rounded organization”, he noted.
Prior to his appointment, Lolomari has contributed and rendered supports in various forms to the goals and objectives of Novarick. The strong passion for inclusion, experimentation and empowerment drives his career towards a distinguished level of proficiency.
Furthermore, Novarick Homes operates other subsidiaries in segments like Property Development, Property Investment, Property Procurement & Advisory, Joint Ventures and Facility Management. The company is also working actively to achieve number 7, 9 and 11 of the 17 World Sustainable Development Goals.
Over the years, the firm has provided green, sustainable and smart real estate solutions using clean and renewable energy. Some major on-going projects include the Ruby Apartments, Nova Gardens and WAZOBIA Courts, all in Lagos State.
Novarick Homes and Properties is a fast-rising real estate development firm which was incorporated in 2018 and based in Lagos. The company is also focused on bridging the housing gap by building affordable and eco-friendly communities in Nigeria.
Qatar Airways Expands Africa Network with Increase in Flight Frequencies
Qatar Airways Aircraft (Source: YouTube)
Cape Town, Casablanca and Tunis will increase to five weekly flights, while Johannesburg will increase to 18 weekly flights, offering passengers more flexible and reliable travel options
Airline’s young mixed fleet of sustainable aircraft has enabled it to continue flying throughout the pandemic and rebuild its global network to more than 800 weekly flights to over 120 destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East
Qatar Airways continues to be the leading global carrier connecting Africa, operating one of the largest and most reliable networks in the region. Having become the largest international carrier during the early stages of the pandemic, the airline has applied its unrivalled knowledge of global passenger flows and booking trends to rebuild its Africa network to 23 destinations and more than 100 weekly flights.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are proud to be the leading international carrier connecting Africa with Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., offering more flexible travel options and a global network of flights that passengers, trade and business partners can rely on. Having launched three new destinations in Africa with Abuja, Accra and Luanda joining our network in 2020, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the region by adding new routes and steadily increasing frequencies across the continent. With the resumption of Alexandria and Cairo, we will operate over 100 weekly flights to and from Africa with connections via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport, to our global network of over 120 destinations. As global travel recovers in 2021, we look forward to further expanding our network and offering more connections to and from Africa.”
In line with the airline’s steady rebuild of its Africa network, Qatar Airways plans to increase frequencies to the following destinations:
- Alexandria (two weekly flights resumed 25 January)
- Cairo (up to 16 weekly flights resumed 18 January)
- Cape Town (increasing to five weekly flights from 1 February)
- Casablanca (increased to five weekly flights from 21 January)
- Durban (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
- Johannesburg (increasing to 18 weekly flights from 26 January)
- Maputo (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
- Tunis (increased to five weekly flights from 24 January)
The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to over 130 by the end of March 2021.
Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. This follows HIA’s recent success as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These recognitions provides assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and in HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.
Passengers can book flights with peace of mind, knowing that Qatar Airways offers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021, for travel completed by 31 December 2021. The carrier’s industry-leading flexible booking policy also provides the permanent feature of exchanging tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. For full terms and conditions visit qatarairways.com/Flexibility.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 45 destinations including Kuala Lumpur, London, Melbourne and New York. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.
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