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Meet 15 Africa-focused Startups Named Among Winners of Inclusive Fintech 50 Award For 2020

15 Africa-focused startups have been named among the winners of the Inclusive Fintech 50 Award for 2020.

The awards recognises the top 50 Inclusive Fintech startups across the globe that are making a concerted effort to provide financial services to underserved communities across the world. 

Selected out of 403 applicants, the 50 fintech’s named on this year’s list were chosen based on the following criteria; inclusiveness, innovation, scale potential, and traction. 

Each applicant underwent rigorous judging by a panel of 35 industry experts from various sectors including venture capital, technology, financial services firms, and more. 

The judges chose the 50 selected awardees based on their provision of credit, insurance, savings, and other integral financial services to low-income households and businesses. 

Aside from gaining global recognition for their services, the cohort of awardees is provided access to connecting with leading investors including the IF50 Investors Circle

Meet the 15 Africa-focused fintech startups:

1. Bankly, Nigeria

Bankly helps its users digitize and grow their cash in a safe, simple manner through technology. In Nigeria, Bankly supports unbanked and underbanked people who currently save with thrift collectors and pool clubs. These are often farmers, market traders, artisans, and transport workers who are paid in cash and cannot access a bank easily. The Bankly Agent app provides a suite of services including savings, transfers, withdrawals, bill payments, airtime top‑up, and financing. Bankly has reached over 35,000 registered end‑users, with nearly 75 percent of users identifying as underbanked.

2. Extramile Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, United States

Extramile Africa helps transform savers into investors while enabling MSMEs and smallholder farmers to access capital to grow their businesses. Through a mobile platform that incorporates blockchain technology, data science, and artificial intelligence, Extramile Africa provides low‑income earners the opportunity to make daily, weekly, or monthly contributions to a savings wallet that can then be deployed as direct investments in MSMEs and smallholder farmers. The accumulated funds are released to verified recipients that are primarily unbanked and underserved traders and farmers working in agricultural value chains. Extramile has reached nearly 150,000 registered users since launching, over half of whom remain active users. Nearly half of Extramile’s registered users are female.

3. Hydrologistics Africa, Kenya

Hydrologistics Africa has redesigned the water and utility management experience by building tools that empower consumers, utilities and the industry to bring efficiency, transparency and value in every drop of water. Hydrologistics Africa’s founders grew up in Kenya, where water accounts for 11% of family income yet 3 or more days a week, water taps are dry. Their solution, HydroIQ, is an IoT device that is connected to the water system. It enables consumers to regulate and manage their water use. Through a simple interface, consumers can pay for the water they use through SMS or a mobile application. HydroIQ has created an active user network spanning 3,000 households across Kenya.

4. Moon, Senegal

Moon enables rural Africans to purchase proprietary pay‑as‑you‑go smartphones, along with a range of solar charging kits and solar home kits. In Africa, 600 million people lack access to electricity and cannot charge their phone reliably. Additionally, many lack access to smartphones and the benefits of digital and financial inclusion. Moon’s cloud platform manages the sale of smartphones on a pay‑as‑you‑go model with low‑data usage apps designed to encourage digital literacy. A dedicated digital payment app allows remote payments for the device as well as the home solar kits that provide charging and lighting for the household. Moon has equipped 5,000 families in rural Senegal and aims to reach 150,000 families in Togo by 2025.

5. OKO, Mali, Uganda

OKO secures the income of unirrigated farmers in developing countries through a mobile‑based crop insurance that automatically compensates them if they suffered from adverse weather. More than one and a half billion people globally depend on rain‑fed agriculture for their income and a very large majority is unbanked. OKO creates affordable insurance products that are directly related to weather conditions and satellite observations. OKO’s products are accessible from any kind of mobile phone and in rural areas since it uses simple technologies including SMS. At the end of January 2020 OKO became available to all Orange customers in Mali and by June had more than 1,800 paying customers.

6. Paycode, Botswana, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia

Paycode provides last‑mile delivery financial services technology solutions to unbanked citizens offline in real‑time. Designed for the hard‑to‑reach remote, rural end‑users, Paycode’s  Electronic Data and Payments Technology (EDAPT) creates, captures and verifies identity of citizens through biometric data collection, stores that information on a biometric smartcard, and uses that information to verify and authenticate digital banking transactions securely. Paycode partners with financial institutions in order to create low‑cost bank accounts for first‑time users. Launched in 2014, Paycode has reached over 4 million end‑users across 8 countries.

7. Lulalend, South Africa

Lulalend offers working capital loans to small businesses across South Africa. Sixty percent of South African small business owners cite ”access to capital” as a leading obstacle to growing their business, particularly the arduous paperwork, long wait time and high collateral requirements. Lulalend offers an online end‑to‑end credit management platform that uses artificial intelligence to instantly score creditworthiness with only minimal financial information and no collateral required. Business owners can receive funding within 24 hours of applying. Lulalend has processed over 70,000 applications and helped thousands of small businesses across South Africa to grow.

8. PayGo Energy, Kenya

PayGo Energy builds hardware and software solutions that makes clean cooking accessible and sustainable for low income households. In sub‑Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of households cook with dirty, dangerous fuels such as charcoal, kerosene and firewood. While these households have sufficient income to purchase clean‑burning liquified petroleum gas (LPG), they cannot afford the upfront cost of a whole cylinder. PayGo Energy’s flagship product is an IoT device that attaches to an LPG cylinder and enables consumers to purchase the fuel in small amounts using mobile money. Over 80 percent of PayGo Energy’s customers are first‑time users of gas and 71 percent are women.

9. Pesakit, Kenya, Tanzania

Considered the “The Bank Branch of the Future,” PesaKit enables mobile money agents to better serve their customers and manage their financial health. With bank branches and ATMs in short supply in Kenya, mobile money agents are a critical access point for financial services but suffer in turn from volatile shifts in liquidity. PesaKit offers agents working capital in the form of e‑float loans, through regulated microfinance institutions as well as enabling agents to access new revenue sources by acting as providers of additional financial and digital services. PesaKit has already reached over 8,000 registered mobile money agents. PesaKit was singled-out to receive the ”Financial Resiliency” prize of a reported $25 000. It was selected for the additional award and funding based on its product’s ability to strengthen low-income households and businesses to recover from the global pandemic. 

10. Turaco, Kenya, Uganda

Turaco is an inclusive insurtech startup that frees people from the fear of financial shocks. The company works through sector‑agnostic partnerships with local businesses to design and distribute simple and useful health and life insurance products to their end‑users in emerging markets. Presently, Turaco has a footprint in Kenya and Uganda where they offer low‑cost insurance cover for as little as USD 2 on flexible monthly payment plans. To date, they have administered over 155,000 policies with 31,000 active users and 1,800 claims paid in an average turnaround time of less than 72 hours. Turaco is working toward actualizing its audacious vision of insuring a billion people within the next 25 years, doubling the current global standing.

11. Asaak, Uganda

Asaak is an asset financing company that provides credit by lending motorcycles, fuel, and smartphones to drivers to improve the lives of informal workers in Uganda. In Africa, the informal sector accounts for 86 percent of all businesses and provides employment opportunities to low‑income workers, including drivers. Yet, these entrepreneurs lack access to credit. Along with providing motorcycle financing, Asaak also provides additional training to help these drivers begin working for ride‑share or delivery companies like Uber or Jumia. Asaak is also expanding its financial platform to include automated educational services around key business skills to help its customers grow their enterprises. Since launching, Asaak has reached thousands of end‑users in this underserved market.

12. DreamStart Labs, Benin, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

DreamStart Labs offers digital banking solutions for informal community savings groups. More than 200 million unbanked people around the world today rely on informal community banks as their primary source of financial services. While these groups are extremely beneficial, managing them is difficult. Transactions are calculated by hand in paper ledgers, with cash stored in metal lockboxes. DreamStart Labs offers mobile apps that make it easy for members to conduct transactions, build credit history, and connect to formal banks. DreamStart Labs has reached thousands of savings groups across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with over two‑thirds of its end‑users as underserved women.

13. Eversend, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda

Eversend is a mobile banking solution that provides essential financial services through smartphones and basic mobile phones. For many of Eversend’s customers, this is their first experience with formal financial services. This includes refugees who may be far from a bank branch, low-income laborers who do not meet the necessary capital requirements to open a bank account, or women who are unable to provide traditional forms of collateral. Eversend offers several financial services through a basic mobile application including loans, insurance, remittances, bill payment, and debit card. The company also provides instant money transfers directly to mobile money accounts. Eversend has registered 60,000 users since launching.

14. Fonbnk, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda

Fonbnk provides borderless banking infrastructure directly to unbanked people around the world using the mobile internet. Using the Fonbnk’s Airtime Wallet, anyone with a prepaid mobile SIM card and a verified online identity can have a global stored value account for free by recharging their existing mobile phone. The company targets young, tech‑savvy users who have experience with online revenue generation tasks and pays them with prepaid airtime, which can be instantly distributed globally and without friction. This borderless payments infrastructure makes it possible for users to access, earn, transfer, pay, and save money easily and all from their existing mobile device.

15. TagPay, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Gabon, Madagascar, Senegal andTogo

TagPay is a digital banking system that replaces legacy core banking systems and enables the creation of digital and neo‑banks. The digital banking system makes it possible for traditional banks to easily and affordably extend their financial services to previously unserved or underserved populations. Through a cloud‑based, mobile‑centric platform, local banks can build digital banks with limited initial investment and offer mobile money solutions for users without an existing bank account. TagPay’s customers often use third‑party agent networks and merchant distributors to provide cash withdrawal, money transfers, bill payment, and credit and savings products to their clients. Since launching the platform in 2019, TagPay has amassed an active user network of 2.6 million.

Musa Suleiman
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