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!
ILLA, an African asset-light FMCG Logistics Company Raises $2M Investment Round
ILLA Team (Image: Supplied)
Cairo-based FMCG Logistics company ILLA secures a $2M investment round to boost its growth in the market and diversify its offering to the FMCG value chain. The round was co-led by Watheeq Financial Services and Golden Palm Investments. The round saw participation from Loftyinc Capital Management, Kepple Africa Fund, Cubit Ventures, AUC Angels, Oqal Angel Network and FLat6Labs Cairo doubling down on its investment in ILLA for the third time
Founded in 2019 by Mahmoud Elzomor, Alaa Jarkas, Ahmed Sakr, and Hossam Saraya, and shortly joined by a well versed management team with Mohamed Emera as Director of Growth, Mohamed Kamal as CFO, and Khaled Elzomor as Commercial Director ILLA aims to optimize post-production supply chain activities for FMCG brands, starting with middle-mile delivery services, being the most fragmented part of the value chain.
By focusing exclusively on the FMCG market, ILLA was able to capture the business and trust of over 65 clients in its portfolio, with household names to the likes of Coca-Cola, P&G, Danone, Nestle, Juhayna, and Pepsico.
Since 2019, ILLA has been delivering on its core promise of moving goods with efficiency on behalf of FMCG brands, spanning over 5,000,000 KM and completing over 250,000
transactions, across 27 governorates in Egypt leveraging its tech platform to power delivery
Before ILLA, FMCG brands had to rely on a variety of owned and outsourced assets to manage their delivery operations, and that adds to the pain of a fragmented logistics cycle, which gave way to the value offering of ILLA to those brands; a streamlined value chain with visibility, control and growth potential for each individual brand, with ILLA acting as an asset-light logistics company, leveraging its tech platform and operational intelligence to deliver an unparalleled experience to FMCG brands.
“ILLA will use the funds to fuel its expansion and growth in Egypt and disrupt the traditional route to-market for FMCG companies and SMEs, while building more around its tech platform to deliver more value to its clients and drivers alike”, says Mahmoud ElZomor, Co-Founder and CEO of ILLA
“Mahmoud and the team are tailor-made for ILLA, bringing decades of diversified experience to help drive efficiency into the $15 trillion global FMCG market. With the onset of covid, the global supply chain management industry is suitable for modernization, and ILLA is uniquely positioned as an end-to-end execution platform. In addition, ILLA’s smart logistics solutions also play a crucial role in providing a full stack of operational solutions that will disrupt the sector, and will change the behavior for all stakeholders within the FMCG market,” said Khaled Zaidan of Watheeq Financial Services.
“Middle-mile logistics is one of the most underinvested segments of the global supply chain market. ILLA has identified this massive opportunity in MENA and is offering a full-stack B2B supply chain management platform enabling FMCG brands to reach retailers directly at the lowest cost per case. Mahmoud and team are utilizing the trucking logistics shared economy and tech automation to innovate within a large and fast-growing market.” – AJ Okereke, Partner, Golden Palm
Africa’s CEOs to empower youth for the digital age at the All4Youth Regional Alliance flagship event
All4Youth Regional Alliance Senior leaders (Image: All4Youth SSA)
We aim to support 1 million young people to find work and plan their transition to the digital economy between now and 2022 through a flagship event of All4Youth Regional Alliance, “CEO & Youth Connect”. A collaborative intervention led by various multinational companies dedicated to reduce youth unemployment across Sub-Saharan Africa. Senior leaders from the alliance will meet on November 8, 2021, to discuss skills of the future required in their organizations as well as share programs, training, and initiatives designed to prepare youth for the digital era.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis, forcing tens of millions of people out of work. As economies continue with the reopening journey, some jobs may not come back, yet we continue to see a rise in the number of youth joining the job market. “We have therefore put the best of our resources to support this recovery, including using data to understand the most in-demand roles, supporting with skilling and reskilling needs for job seekers and job creators. Partnerships such as this will play a critical role and will support us to scale us to more youth and increase the impact across the African continent” noted Ghada Khalifa, Director for Microsoft Philanthropies for Middle East and Africa.
Bruno Olierhoek, Chairman and Managing Director at Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region emphasized the importance of senior leaders taking keen interests in the development and ultimate successes of the youth. “We are driven by our inspiring purpose that is so relevant in our East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) and we want to do good by addressing societal challenges such as climate change, sustainability and youth unemployment. To help contribute to these major challenges, we realize the need to work in an ecosystem which is entrenched around long-term thinking, with immediate actions. Through our involvement in different programmes supporting the youth in Employment & Employability, Entrepreneurship and Agri-preneurship we are committed to continuously define projects that are fully integrated in our value chain for them to be viable over the long term and be able to make a real meaningful impact for the community and us.”
“The youth of today are the builders and leaders of tomorrow. As Adcorp we know that enabling agility, focus and skill in the youth of today is the key to unlocking their potential for tomorrow ‘’ highlighted Dr John Wentzel, Chief Executive Officer, Adcorp Group.
In the last two years, alliance partners have reached over 150,000 young people, empowered over 3000 young people through employability and mentorship programmes. Giving high potential young talent access to a network of high performing industry professionals that accelerate opportunities, career and personal development goals.
We encourage young people to register for the upcoming event to click here and learn more about in-demand skills, insights to future of work and opportunities alliance partners have available for youth.
Fawry Invest in Sudanese Classifieds and Marketplace Platform alsoug, Marking First Overseas Venture
Fawry CEO Eng. Ashraf Sabry (Image: Supplied)
Fawry establishes strategic partnership with Sudanese consumer platform with an eye to scaling up technology platform beyond Egypt.
Fawry (the “Company”, FWRY.CA on the Egyptian Exchange), Egypt’s leading provider of e- payments solutions and digital banking services, announced today that it has finalized an investment in alsoug.com, Sudan’s largest online classifieds platform and marketplace, to help build out alsoug’s new fintech platform, Cashi. Fawry has acquired a strategic minority stake in the alsoug.com/Cashi holding company, marking the Company’s first venture capital investment outside of its Egyptian home market. The investment comes as part of Sudan’s first announced venture capital funding round.
Fawry played a leading role in ensuring the success of the USD 5m round, with the Company’s presence catalyzing involvement from other strategic Western VC players. As a strategic investor in alsoug, Fawry intends to leverage its long track record with white label technology solutions to help the platform expand in scale, enhancing the platform’s merchant acquisition operation, refining its go-to-market approach, and providing valuable insights that inform high-level strategy across all segments of the business.
Founded in 2016 by a world-class team of technology entrepreneurs, alsoug is now Sudan’s leading consumer internet platform and its largest digital marketplace. Alsoug is one of Sudan’s most downloaded apps on the Google Play app store with two million downloads and is a platform where sellers can list everything from real estate and cars to services and commodities.
Despite the political and economic headwinds experienced by Sudan as it goes through a transformative political transition, the platform has grown rapidly since 2016, reflecting alsoug’s highly skilled team of in-house developers, comprehensive coverage by its on-the-ground teams, as well as Sudan’s promising economic fundamentals. Moving forward, and building on the strategic partnership with Fawry, alsoug will significantly expand its service offering by building a new payments network capable of serving customers across Sudan, one of the largest countries on the African continent.
“We’re delighted to be kicking off our partnership with alsoug, one of Sudan’s most exciting prospects and a Sudanese leader in tech innovation. This is our first investment foray outside of Egypt in our thirteen years of operation, and we’re confident that our story with alsoug and Cashi will be a special one. Fawry’s investment in alsoug delivers on our plans to venture into underserved international markets by leveraging our technology and teaming up with strong local players. This investment will provide us the opportunity to strategically expand our footprint into Africa and transfer the experience we’ve gained in the dynamic Egyptian market to neighboring Sudan, an economy with major potential across several sectors and with a significant pool of entrepreneurial talent. Meanwhile, Fawry’s strategic partnership with alsoug leaves it ideally placed to help guide the platform’s rollout of a countrywide payments system, a feat which Fawry has already managed through a scalable, robust, and best-in-class technology platform.” said: Fawry CEO Eng. Ashraf Sabry
“This investment marks a significant milestone not just for alsoug, but for the nascent tech space in Sudan as a whole, which has until today been essentially shut out of the global capital markets. I hope this investment is the first of many and that the huge potential of the tech sector in Sudan is fully realized in the coming years. We are looking forward to working with Fawry, and our new strategic shareholders, to continue our expansion from the classifieds and marketplace space into payments. We will build a payments platform that will deliver financial inclusion to all Sudanese.” said Alsoug co-founder and CEO Tarneem (Nina) Saeed
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