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The Cortex Group Launch Cortex Ventures – Africa’s First Artificial Intelligence (AI) Only Focused Venture Capital Company.

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 2nd May 2019 –The Cortex Group is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused holding company building value in the IR4.0 Economy on a local, regional and global scale. Already home to the successful Cortex Logic, an African Artificial Intelligence (AI) Software and Solutions company that helps businesses thrive in the Smart Technology Era, Cortex Ventures will be Africa’s one-stop-shop for AI focused start-ups and scale-ups looking for early or growth stage funding coupled to the opportunity to uniquely tap into the Cortex Group’s technical advisory, AI application development capabilities and co-working space.

Dr Jacques Ludik, recipient of the AI Leader of the Year 2019 award and Cortex Group CEO & Founder said, “The AI play is so large that we decided to create a Venture Capital company that would only focus on companies, innovators and entrepreneurs working with AI based technologies that leverage data science, machine learning or deep learning in their stack.  The world of artificial intelligence is seeing an explosion of new companies requiring investment and we intend to fill that gap, especially those seeking early stage funding, which is traditionally seen as higher risk by more traditional VCs and investment entities such as Banks, Angel or Private Investors.

Fellow entrepreneur and 20-year tech veteran, Dr Nick Bradshaw,who will be heading up Cortex Ventures stated, “There has never been a better time to be a tech entrepreneur in the AI space.  Many of the things you could only dream of doing in this space two to three years ago are now possible and access to free or cost-effective resources via open source, APIs and Cloud providers such as Microsoft, AWS, Google and IBM is making this happen.  As a VC focusing on both early and growth stage businesses we are supplementing the traditional support a VC can offer with unique access to AI developers and data scientists, product advisory services and a FREE co-working space so that we can be close to the companies and partners we are working with, ultimately making them succeed”.

“Embracing AI in South Africa is critical as it brings immense opportunity and we anticipate it to be one of the most disruptive technologies in human history. Microsoft’s latest research into the adoption of AI in business shows that 37.8% of high-growth companies are actively implementing AI. It’s great to see new players like the Cortex Group and Cortex Ventures helping clients shift towards digital transformation and creating new opportunities for companies of tomorrow.  As companies are relying more on AI, it is freeing up business leaders to focus on other activities. Realising the true benefit of AI is not simply about being fast adopters of innovative technology. Every company needs to think of itself as a digital company”, said Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa.

James Milne, Head of Investment Promotion Wesgro and Zimkhita Buwa, Chief Operating Officer at Britehouse, who both sit on the Board of The Silicon Cape, South Africa stated, “Cortex Ventures will add significantly to the tech landscape in South Africa and more broadly Africa and we applaud what the team at the Cortex Group are doing to create inclusive, earlier stage funding opportunities in the Artificial Intelligence sector both locally and nationally”.

Ludik concluded, “Africa can really benefit from leveraging cutting-edge 4th Industrial Revolution technologies and we as a community need to identify the gaps to create an AI pipeline for growth.  Investment funding plays a big role in making this happen and we see collaboration with other VCs, incubators, accelerators, academia, industry and government as key to job creation and economic growth.  Cortex Ventures will play an important role in this helping shape a better future for all”.

Bradshaw concluded, “As a call to action, we invite AI focused start-ups and scale-ups to take part in our Click-2-Pitch Challenge”.  It’s a very simply application process that we use to invite candidate companies to submit and join our program for investment and advice.  Its free to apply and all applications are reviewed by our investment team for the opportunity to pitch for investment. It does not matter if you are at pre-MVP, MVP, pre-revenue or post-revenue stage – we look at all proposals and advise accordingly.  We are already screening deals and welcome all submissions from anywhere on the African continent”.

Also Read Interview With Street Global Venture Capital Partners, Alysia Silberg And Christian Meyers

 

ABOUT CORTEX GROUP

The Cortex Group works across multiple business and industry domains to develop cutting edge intelligent systems and AI driven companies / platforms that leverage our unique mix of IP, access to funding, technology, people, partners and extensive community.The Cortex Group is made up of six brands each focusing on a different part of the AI Ecosystem namely; Asset Management, FinTech, Health, AI Products, AI focused VC Investments and a Portfolio of AI powered platform businesses that we have partnered with or invested in. The Cortex Ventures  Click-2-Pitch Challenge is now open to any African based start-up or scale-up focusing on AI who is seeking seed or growth stage funding. Learn more at www.cortexgroup.ai

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Press Release

Mastercard partners with NAPS to drive innovation across Morocco

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Mastercard and NAPS, a leading Moroccan fintech company, have initiated a collaboration to develop innovative payment solutions for individuals and businesses. The partnership consolidates the strong historical relationship between the two entities. NAPS is on a mission to expand the horizons of digital payments in Morocco. NAPS benefits from the 30+ years of expertise of M2M Group in software for electronic payments and biometric identity. As Mastercard’s partner, NAPS benefits from access to its extensive network, expertise and wide-ranging portfolio of products and services, powered by innovative and secure technologies.

In line with NAPS’s long-term strategy, the collaboration will boost the company’s innovation capabilities through Mastercard’s advanced technology and optimize time to market for its upcoming digital offerings.

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“At Mastercard, we are committed to supporting a global network of innovators with the aim of building a more accessible and sustainable digital economy. We serve as a trusted partner of pioneering fintech companies across all stages of development, helping them achieve agility and speed. We are delighted to share our technological expertise with NAPS to pursue our common objective of advancing inclusive growth,” said Mohamed Benomar, Country General Manager, MENA West, Mastercard.

“The partnership with Mastercard will reinforce our position as a market-leading fintech company and support the culture of innovation that is at the core of everything we do. By accelerating the development of digital payment solutions in Morocco, it will also contribute to cementing the country’s status as a premier fintech hub in the Arab world,” said Hassan Ghellab, CEO, NAPS.

NAPS and Mastercard aim to create new ecosystems of digital services in Morocco to unlock the full potential of digital payments and provide users with an enhanced experience through innovative services in order to promote financial inclusion. These digital ecosystems will enable the development of high-value applications and explore new service opportunities, contributing to innovation and the digital transformation of the sector.

The CGAP report Fintechs Across the Arab World, issued in December 2020, highlighted Morocco as the third-largest fintech hub among the 22 member countries of the Arab League. High mobile coverage, a large unbanked population, an abundant supply of talent, infrastructure upgrades and government initiatives encouraging the uptake of digital financial services, coupled with enabling regulations, are among the key drivers of growth in this space.

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Press Release

MoCaFi, founded by Nigerian Wole Coaxum, raises $23.5M funding to end racial wealth inequality

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MoCaFi Founder and CEO, Wole Coaxum (Image: Wole Coaxum)

Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (“MoCaFi”), a turnkey fintech platform leading financial empowerment for traditionally underserved communities, announces $23.5M in Series-B financing, led by Commerce Ventures. MoCaFi provides Financial Services as Infrastructure™ to various levels of government to improve the efficiency of providing financial and other resources to underserved communities across the country.  The company’s mission is to help excluded communities create wealth through better access to public, private, and social capital. 

Founded in 2016 by Wole Coaxum, a Black former Wall Street Executive who was inspired by the 2014 murder of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, to address stark social inequities by closing the racial wealth gap. MoCaFi advances a vision of socioeconomic justice by creating pathways to financial empowerment for millions of unbanked or underbanked Americans. With over $100 million of financial resources disbursed to underserved communities across 15 cities and counties across the country, MoCaFi is utilizing its capital to fulfill that vision and scale. 

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“Commerce Ventures has been unbelievably impressed by MoCaFi’s passion for helping underserved communities access high-quality, affordable financial services,” said Dan Rosen, Founding Partner and Head of Fintech Investments at Commerce Ventures. “MoCaFi’s scalable payments platform enables government agencies (Federal, State and Local) to disburse benefits directly to vulnerable populations in some of the country’s largest municipalities, including Los Angeles, CA, St. Louis, MO and Birmingham, AL. We’re excited to see the company deliver similar value to the next dozen municipality clients while also enabling the under-banked to get access to digital banking services and pathways to accessing credit and building wealth.”  

“We are pleased to be joined by new investment partners with such valuable expertise. MoCaFi has established unique government partnerships that are capable of creating dramatic impact at scale, for millions of Americans currently unable to access quality financial services and benefits.”, said Tom Hutton, lead Series A Investor and investor in the Series B round, MoCaFi Board Member and accomplished Fintech venture capitalist. 

Billions of dollars in public benefits are left unspent due to various complexities and inefficiencies in disbursement methods. MoCaFi’s platform provides governments with a solution that increases adoption and delivers benefits efficiently while reducing fraud. 

“MoCaFi has been the perfect partner for the City of Birmingham. Over the last three years, we have delivered almost $20 million in emergency assistance to thousands of families – keeping them in their homes and keeping the lights on, and we couldn’t have done it without MoCaFi. More than just a payment processor- the MoCaFi team has been a fully engaged thought partner from conception through execution. We are incredibly appreciative of their support and hope to work with them again soon!” said Kelvin Datcher, Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Birmingham.  

“We are excited to welcome the new investors to the MoCaFi mission, and appreciate the support of our existing investors, many of whom continue to show their trust by participating in the latest round . This Series B round allows MoCaFi to scale quickly and validates our unique business proposition. With this capital and more importantly, support from these terrific strategic investors, we can continue to innovate and bring our products and services to more municipalities, government entities and community partners – ultimately helping more people.” said Wole Coaxum, MoCaFi CEO & Founder. 

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Economy

Angola becomes ATI’s 21st Member State, pays USD25m in capital subscription fees

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The Republic of Angola has become the 21st African Member State and the 1st Lusophone Member State of pan-African insurer, Africa Trade Insurance Agency – ATI, after paying a capital subscription of USD25 million. The membership was funded the Angolan National Treasury resources and proceeds from the landmark BITA water project – a strategic public investment for the construction of infrastructure for the treatment, supply and storage of drinking water that will benefit 2.5 million people in Angola.

Welcoming Angola’s membership, ATI’s Chief Executive Officer, Manuel Moses, noted the country’s demonstration of its commitment to diversify its economy through ATI’s trade and investment risk mitigation solutions.

“We are happy to support Angola in its quest to economic diversification and becoming an agricultural powerhouse on the African continent. Angola’s membership is timely as ATI’s risk mitigation and credit enhancement services will act as a catalyst for strengthening and diversifying Angola’s economy, supporting both increased investment, exports and trade under Africa’s continental framework of the AfCFTA,” Mr. Manuel said.

Under this one of a kind blended finance and guarantee innovative structure, the Republic of Angola – along with the lenders covered by ATI under the transaction – agreed for the use of proceeds under the syndicated loan to also include the financing for the purpose of Angola becoming a member of ATI. ATI provided guarantee and insurance support for this World Bank’s partially guaranteed facility to the Government of Angola for the expansion and improvement of water supply service in the urban and peri-urban belts of Luanda.

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Current exposure

ATI’s gross exposure in Angola, the largest country in Southern Africa Region, currently stands at USD467M mainly in construction, energy & gas, trade & transport, water supply and wholesale & retail sectors, with transactions valued at USD1.4B.

“This development was made possible because of ATI’s pan African mandate that allows the organization to cover transactions in Angola and beyond, despite ATI non-membership.  Now that Angola is a fully-fledged shareholder of ATI, the country can fully access more of ATI’s guarantee solutions to attract more Foreign Direct Investments and boost its internal and external trade across the region,” Mr. Manual explained.

Angola’s economy is mainly driven by its oil sector but the country seeks to pursue new growth models for economic diversification through the agricultural sector and private sector development.

With ATI’s support, Angola is on the path to fiscal consolidation, manage their debt ceiling, increase in public and private investment, in order to resume the ascending curve of sustainable and inclusive economic growth as well as human development.

ATI has grown from a small African start-up in 2001 into a pan-African institution with presence across Africa and with a significant global reach. Besides Angola, other member countries include Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Institutional members include African Development Bank, African Reinsurance Corporation, Atradius Group, Chubb, CESCE (Spanish ECA), Ministry of Finance India (represented by ECGC), SACE SIMEST, The Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Trade and Development Bank (TDB), Kenya-Re, The PTA Reinsurance Company (Zep-Re), and the UK Export Finance.

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