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Two Nigerian and 1 Kenyan startups have emerged winners of the Visa Everywhere Initiative in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). They are CredPal and Zowasel and Mookh Afrika. The winning solutions beat 10 other contenders selected from 238 submissions to emerge as winners.
The SSA program was structured around three real-life business challenges:
  1. Merchant Payments Challenge: How to enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  2. Social Business Payments Challenge: How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage the mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer-centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments?
  3. Financial Inclusion Challenge: How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?

Nigerian startup, CredPal, won the “Merchant Payments” challenge and US$25,000 for its solution that allows business and individuals to pay for purchases in installments across online and offline merchants by providing them with instant access to credit at the point of checkout.

Zowasel, another Nigerian startup, developed a solution which connects under-financed smallholder farmers with investors via mobile phone-based P2P lending and marketplace sales, as well as gives them access to best agricultural practices. They won the “Financial Inclusion” challenge. The SSA edition of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is also the first time that startups have been given a challenge specific to financial inclusion since it was launched in 2015.

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Meanwhile, Mookh Africa won both Social Business Payment Challenge as well as the overall prize for developing a social business payments solution which makes it easy for people in Africa to buy and sell on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Once the seller creates an online store on Mookh, they can embed it into their Facebook page. The company will get US$50,000 and the opportunity to work with Visa to develop the concept further.

Commenting, the Senior Director – Digital Solutions, sub-Sahara Africa at Visa, Geraldine Mitchley, said: We have had the privilege of working with some of the best minds in the region over the last few months and the selected three category winners have the potential to truly change the way people pay in the region. We congratulate Mookh Africa, CredPal, and Zowasel and thank all the finalists for participating in the Everywhere Initiative.”

She added: “The future of digital payments will be shaped through collaboration and we look forward to working with our startup partners to transform the payments landscape over the coming years to the benefit of consumers, merchants and issuers alike. It’s an exciting time in Africa’s payments and fintech space.”

The Managing Director, Accenture Digital Financial Services and one of the judges for the final, Carmen Whatley, said: “VEI is a very powerful initiative. Africa is always made to feel like the lost continent and today we saw what is coming out of the continent. It was mind-blowing and a reminder that good ideas are everywhere. I am energized.

“It was amazing for me to see that we had a panel of judges who came from very different backgrounds and looked at this from very different angles, and we unanimously decided on the winners. There were very clear, innovative ideas; or ones with phenomenal social impact. All the winners have incredible ideas for Africa – from opening up access to finance for a customer to linking up small farmers with financers – biggest highlight has been seeing these ideas and their social impact.”

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Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is a global program designed to support the company’s goal of fostering the growth of next-generation payment technologies.

To date, nearly 2,100 fintech startups from across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia have participated.

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