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Kenya-based FinTech Startup Pezesha Wins AFI Inclusive FinTech Showcase 2020

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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):

Beyonic

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

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.

KlickEx

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

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

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.

Tanda

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!

Source: AFI

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Press Release

João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, The President of the Republic of Angola To Speak At The Angola and Turkey Business Forum

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João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, The President of the Republic of Angola (Image: Claudia Padayachy)

The President of the Republic of Angola, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, will give the inaugural speech at the Angola-Turkey Business Forum, to be held at the Ato Congresium Conference Center in Ankara, Turkey, today, 28 July 2021, at 9:00 am local time.

President Lourenço, who will address the Turkish business community, will take this opportunity to highlight Angola’s economic potential and the opportunities that the country offers. He will also discuss his government’s commitment to economic growth and development through the private sector as well as the multiple initiatives that have been adopted to improve the business environment.

This Forum is part of the official program of President Lourenço’s visit to the Republic of Turkey and is the perfect opportunity to inform the local business community and investors of Angola’s new business environment. Numerous ongoing reforms and support policies for private investment and the diversification of the economy have been put in place.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of AIPEX, António Henriques da Silva, will present the numerous investment opportunities in the Republic of Angola.

Turkey’s Minister of Commerce, Mr. Ahmet, and the President of DEIK, are also expected to present at the Forum. 

Around a hundred Angolan and Turkish companies from various sectors are expected to participate in the event.

The Angolan and Turkish business communities will soon enjoy closer ties, with the launch of two direct weekly air connections between Luanda and Ankara through Turkish Airlines.

The  Angolan presidential delegation comprises Manuel Nunes Júnior – Minister of State for Economic Coordination, Edeltrudes da Costa – Minister and Cabinet Director of PR, Tete António – Minister of Foreign Affairs, João Ernesto dos Santos – Minister of National Defense and Homeland Veterans, Sérgio dos Santos – Minister of Economy and Planning, Ricardo Viegas de Abreu – Minister of Transport, João Baptista Jorges – Minister of Energy and Water, Manuel Tavares de Almeida – Minister of Public Works and Spatial Planning, Diamantino de Azevedo – Minister of Mineral Resources , Oil and Gas, António Francisco de Assís – Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Victor Fernandes – Minister of Industry and Commerce and Antonio Henriques da Silva – Chairman of the Board of Directors at AIPEX.

Over the last 18 years, Turkey has significantly increased its presence in Africa, going from 12 embassies and investments of around USD 100 million in 2003 to 42 embassies and around USD 6.5 billion in direct investments in 2021.

From 2003 to 2019, Turkey’s trade with Africa increased about five times, and now some 51 African cities are served by Turkish Airlines, which plans to start flights to Angola soon. (Source: issafrica.org and AIPEX).

To date, Angola has registered around USD 200 million in investments of Turkish origin, especially in mining and steel. President João Lourenço’s visit to Turkey will boost economic relations between the two countries and, in the medium term, an increase in Turkish investment in Angola is expected in priority sectors, namely, industry, mining, energy, tourism and transport, in addition to trade, where the two countries already have strong links.

The trade balance between the two countries is unfavourable for Angola, data from the General Tax Administration (AGT) indicate that from 2015 to 2020, Angola’s imports from Turkey was around USD 1,702,737,951.00, while exports from Angola to Turkey in the same period were only 41,960,419.00 USD.

 

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Press Release

Wärtsilä to modernise power generation at Nigeria’s oldest and largest food company, Flour Mills Nigeria

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Wärtsilä will enable leading Nigerian food company to modernise its power generation facilities to meet everyday production needs

The technology group Wärtsilä will supply fuel-flexible dual-fuel engines to extend, improve, and modernise power generation for a captive power plant at Nigeria’s oldest and largest food and agro allied company, Flour Mills Nigeria. The company’s Lagos-based power plant is needed to ensure sufficient capacity and a reliable electricity supply around the clock to meet its food production requirements, and commitments to its customers. The two received orders were booked by Wärtsilä in March and June. 

The first order comprises a 9-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engine generator set and is an extension to the existing generating capacity provided by a similar Wärtsilä engine generator set that has been successfully operating since 2017. The second order comprises a 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF engine generator set and is intended to replace an existing inefficient mono-fuel generating asset in the plant with efficient dual-fuel generating capacity as part of Flour Mills Nigeria’s captive power plant modernisation plans. The Wärtsilä engine generator sets will be delivered during 2021 and are expected to become fully operational in early 2022. 

The multi-fuel capability of the Wärtsilä engines, which can switch seamlessly from natural gas to liquid fuel mode while running at full load, facilitates continuous supply of electricity to critical loads in the event of uncertainties in the quality and quantity of the gas supply. In addition to maximising the availability and reliability, this inherent capability provides a valuable hedge against fuel price increases, and lends itself to accommodating future fuel infrastructure developments. 

Also Read Wärtsilä Optimised Maintenance agreement supports growth ambitions of a privately-owned Nigerian supplier of energy to the national grid

“It is always gratifying to receive repeat orders from a customer, not only because it signifies their satisfaction with our solution, but also because it cements the relationship between our companies. Operational flexibility and efficiency, which are features of the Wärtsilä engines, are becoming key issues in energy production, and are especially relevant for production facilities with a critical need for a reliable electricity supply,” commented Marc Thiriet, Energy Business Director, Africa West. 

The Nigerian government’s 30-30-30 vision document for the power sector aims to achieve a capacity of 30,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2030, with at least 30 percent being supplied from renewable energy sources. The selection of fast-starting and stopping Wärtsilä engines means that should the customer have access to solar or wind power in the future, these engine generator sets can provide smart back-up generation to balance the fluctuating supply from renewables.

Wärtsilä has a leading position in supplying flexible power generation to West Africa with 4792 MW of capacity installed, of which 667 MW in Nigeria. Wärtsilä has operated in the country since 2010 and has about 90 employees locally.

 

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Investment

Yoco raises US$83m to scale its financial ecosystem for small businesses in South Africa

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Yoco Founders (Images: Ivy Shirinda-JNPR)

Yoco, South African payments and software platform, has secured $83 million (R1.2 billion)  in Series C funding amid a surge in demand for digital payments amongst African small businesses.

The latest investment round brings the total funds raised to date, by Yoco, to US$107 million. These funds will enable Yoco to accelerate the development of its financial ecosystem, which already includes online and in-store payments, business software and capital, as well as expand its market presence beyond South Africa.

Among the company’s new investors are Dragoneer Investment Group, which is making its Africa investment debut, Breyer Capital, HOF Capital, The Raba Partnership, 4DX Ventures, TO Ventures, Futuregrowth and several current and former executives from global tech leaders such as Coinbase, Revolut, Spotify and Gojek.

“We are excited to partner with such world-class investors who have joined our quest to break barriers and create access to financial services for millions of small businesses across the continent.” said Katlego Maphai, the chief executive office of Yoco, “Looking ahead, this investment will unlock capacity for us to accelerate product development for our merchants and continue on our growth trajectory in South Africa and beyond.”

In less than six years, Yoco has become the preferred payments partner for over 150 000 small businesses across South Africa, processing more than US$1 billion in card payments per year. Importantly, Yoco’s growth has been driven almost exclusively by small, independent businesses that were previously cash-only due to the complexity and high costs of existing alternatives.

Carl Wazen, Yoco’s chief business officer, says that despite being the largest payments platform in South Africa, Yoco is still at the beginning of its journey.  “There are over 6 million small businesses in South Africa and well over 100 million across the Middle East and Africa that still transact only in cash.” Wazen says “recent consumer behaviour shows a shift away from cash and businesses have to rapidly adapt to this change. This presents a huge opportunity and it is our mission to support that transition.”

Yoco team

Yoco has big plans for seizing this opportunity by continuing to deepen its market presence in South Africa and expanding into Africa and the Middle East region over the next two years. The goal, according to Wazen, is to reach at least a million merchants within the next four years.

“Working so closely with small businesses during a global pandemic, and in particular through a challenging socio-economic environment in South Africa, we have a firsthand account of how agile these businesses need to be in a rapidly changing world,” says Maphai.

“Removing barriers and levelling the playing field by creating access to financial tools is a big part of answering these challenges. Yoco is at the forefront of solving what is critical for small businesses and enabling them to thrive. This new capital injection translates into an acceleration of access for small businesses in our region and beyond, bringing our vision of open commerce forward,” concludes Maphai.

 

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