From 16 to 20 October 2023, representatives of ten African fintechs traveled to Togo, in Lomé, to take part in the latest edition of CATAPULT: Financial Inclusion Africa, an accelerator program focused on financial inclusion, developed and delivered by the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) and supported by Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation.
Hosted at the prestigious SAM (“Semaine africaine de la microfinance”), the African Microfinance Week, this edition marked a series of firsts: it was the inaugural program in Africa and the first session conducted in French, amplifying inclusivity for French-speaking fintech firms.
A riveting pitch session unfolded on the evening of 19 October in front of a formidable and excited audience, where each participant had a five-minute window to present their innovative solutions, followed by a two-minute interactive Q&A session with a distinguished jury.
Alongside Geneviève Hengen, Deputy Director for Bilateral Development Cooperation, the esteemed jury panel also included industry stalwarts such as Laura Foschi, Executive Director of ADA asbl, and other prominent figures from the realms of finance and microfinance with Gildas Zodome, CEO of Verti Agri, Grégoire Yakan, CEO of Koosmik and Luc Kpenou, Sales and Marketing Director of the GIM-UEMOA.
The highlight of the event was marked by the announcement of the winner, COVA Africa, who was awarded the prize by Geneviève Hengen, Deputy Director of the Bilateral Development Cooperation.
“Alone we go faster, together we go further”. (African proverb). Thanks to the COVA AFRICA team for their hard work every day, and to the Luxembourg House of Technology for giving Cova Africa the opportunity to immerse itself in Luxembourg’s financial inclusion ecosystem for a few days and benefit from exceptional advice, training and meetings. Special thanks to Annabelle and Alex and the other finalists for the very high standard of the competition. We are proud to be the winner of the 6th edition of Catapult Africa, the first edition in French, and to bring the trophy back to Cameroon.” added, Virginie POUNA NGOMI, CEO and co-founder.
CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa, a beacon of financial inclusivity, has been instrumental in accelerating the trajectories of numerous companies, fostering innovation, and bridging the gap between Africa and Europe in the fintech landscape. The week-long bootcamp, rich in sessions and mentorship opportunities, has been a crucible for fintechs, enabling them to refine their strategies, enhance operational efficiencies, and magnify their social impact. The program is supported by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, alongside many key strategic partners from the finance and microfinance industry.
CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa has accelerated 70 companies from over 25 countries since its launch. This year, there were over 140 applications from which 10 fintechs from seven countries were selected for the one-week program. This edition featured 26 sessions and the involvement of 28 experts and 38 mentors.
The program was supported by key strategic partners such as LFF (Luxembourg For Finance), ADA asbl (Appui au Développement Autonome), Blue-Ventures.VC, GGGI (Global Green Growth Insitute), Themis Lex, CIF, IIDIA, LMDF (Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund), SPTF (Social Performance Task Force), CGAP, LuxDev, AFI (Alliance for Financial Inclusion), EIB (European Investment Bank), Bamboo Capital Partners, Amarante Consulting, GIM – UEMOA, InFine, Jokkolabs, Solversx, Fondation Grameen, e-MFP, Arendt, Koosmik and Groupe Beyn.
The CATAPULT: Financial Inclusion Africa program covered a range of topics, including business model mapping, scaling strategies, peer due diligence processes, sales strategies, business plan presentation, operational and risk management, funding and capital raising as well as social impact.
Mr. Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT Foundation, commented: “CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa’s latest edition was a remarkable convergence of firsts—our inaugural program in Africa, hosted at the SAM, and the first to be conducted in French. This not only signifies the expanding impact of the program but also our commitment to inclusivity and localization in fostering African fintech innovations. The participants showcased incredibly promising solutions that echo the future of financial inclusion. I express my heartfelt gratitude to our community and partners for their unwavering support in this transformative journey.”
Mr. Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, added: “Luxembourg’s Development Cooperation is convinced of the catalytic role played by fintechs in supporting groups left behind by the traditional financial system – and the finalists of this year’s CATAPULT have proven this once again. Their innovative solutions are a demonstration of how the financial inclusion sector and the use of their exceptional technology can promote financial services that meet the needs of local communities.”
The 10 Fintech startups who pitched for the final of the 2023 edition of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa Togo Edition were:
AMIRA GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Amira Global Technologies is a company specialising in digital transformation that has put in place a number of social impact solutions based on its online payment solution, Paiement Pro. This solution enables businesses and entrepreneurs to open up to new markets by accepting mobile payments in several African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Niger, Senegal and Togo) and electronic payments (Visa and Mastercard). With Paiement Pro, entrepreneurs can sell online, collect money and apply for loans based on the cash flow generated.
CA PAY is a web-based payment platform. Its aim is to give people excluded from the traditional financial system and living in remote areas easy access to financial transactions. Through its Capay web platform, CA PAY enables companies to make their various payments of salaries, bonuses, subsidies, etc. using mobile money for their unbanked employees.
Cova Africa is an insurtech dedicated to French-speaking Africa. The company uses technology, innovation and partnerships with sectors more popular than traditional insurance to facilitate the distribution of insurance in Cameroon and French-speaking Africa. It offers turnkey solutions for the digital marketing of tailor-made insurance products to various partners wishing to distribute insurance products to their customers as complementary cover to their basic products (microfinance and fintechs, health techs, agritechs).
MiQo is a neo-microfinance offering a SUPER financial app for mass financial inclusion, providing a fully digital bank account in less than 2 minutes to unbanked and underbanked people in French-speaking Africa with a smartphone. It comes with a contactless VISA card and an NFC-enabled mobile app, and aims to provide financial services such as instant credit lines and nano-loans in less than 10 seconds without collateral, contactless payments in shops via QRcode and NFC, multi-currency virtual cards for online payments, free national and cross-border money transfers, personalised financial education, savings and investment.
Kola is a digital microfinance company that helps unbanked individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa access credit, payment solutions and manage their finances through digital solutions. To manage its risks, Kola uses a proprietary credit scoring model based on behavioural and financial data.
MICROFINANCE PRO SARL
Microfinance’s SAAS solution tackles the problems of collecting money for MFIs and enables MFI customers to easily access their current/savings account on their own mobile phone and easily transfer money to accounts, locally and abroad.
ORYA TECHNOLOGIES is an African fintech that positions itself as an API provider for financial services. Their business is building secure and inclusive technology for financial professionals in Africa. Their Fintra product automatically manages salary advance requests and provides employees with a financial management system, while maintaining control and without impacting companies’ cash flow.
Rubyx is a data-driven fintech offering MSME credit solutions for service providers in emerging markets. With their solution, they aim to close the funding gap faced by informal entrepreneurs and small businesses to finance their operations. They have created a cloud-native, API-driven AI lending platform built around complementary modules including a cloud-based data warehouse / a decision engine and scoring algorithm / a flexible credit management system and a range of information access channels (API, web application, mobile application, external BI tools).
ToumAI offers a SaaS Data Analytics platform that collects and analyses local data in Africa, whether audio or written, whatever the local dialect of expression. In this way, the company is giving a voice and economic and financial weight back to local communities in Africa, while enabling international investors to better manage local risks thanks to more granular and robust data. They have deployed a citizen survey application that enables us to combine education (sustainable development and financial inclusion) and local data feedback, while paying respondents in the form of telephone credit. Their SaaS solution is fed by this data, as well as data from the media and social networks, and processes it while offering decision-making support mechanisms thanks to their generative AI and dynamic indicators.
Wajenzi is a digital marketplace that enables African SMEs to raise funds from individuals and institutional investors in the EU and the US in exchange for an equity stake in their company.
Wajenzi’s mission is to promote financial inclusion by connecting individual investors such as the diaspora, European and American retail investors, institutional investors and governments with African SMEs seeking financing to develop their activities.