Top financial inclusion startups select investments following three-month investment readiness program

(Lagos, Nigeria) – May 3, 2017 – Two financial inclusion-focused startups, Piggybank.ng and Olivine Technology, were selected by a cohort of seven peer companies to receive US$50,000 each in investment from Village Capital. The selection marks the end of a three-month investment readiness program, Village Capital FinTech Africa 2017, organized in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and The DOEN Foundation, with platform support from VC4A (Venture Capital for Africa).

The program was launched in January to develop the next generation of financial technology entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa. Each of the seven startups that participated in the full program (selected from over 200 applicants) is focused on improving financial inclusion and livelihoods for low-income populations. In a unique process called “peer-selected investment”, participating entrepreneurs evaluated each other across nine indicators of investment readiness and directed investment capital to the top two, peer-selected companies.

“We have seen growing financial access in Africa over the last several years, but growing access does not necessarily mean growing financial inclusion,” said Village Capital CEO Ross Baird. “There is a real lack of savings, credit, and investment solutions that work for women, youth, farmers, small businesses, and other underserved communities. After witnessing the progress of the FinTech Africa 2017 cohort companies over the past several months, we’re even more excited about their potential to expand financial inclusion in the communities they serve.”

Fintech Africa 2017 is Village Capital’s seventh program in sub-Saharan Africa since 2012 and its second focused on financial technology. The program comprised three workshops, in Accra, Ghana; Nairobi, Kenya; and Lagos, Nigeria.

“Village Capital and its partners are committed to helping build a strong entrepreneurial community and ecosystem on the continent. Since running our first program in Africa, Village Capital has seen significant growth, both in interest levels and sophistication, of businesses applying for our programs,” said Lia Mayka, Village Capital Regional Manager in sub-Saharan Africa. “We are proud of our work with the FinTech Africa 2017 cohort, and look forward to seeing these entrepreneurs continue to do incredible work.”

Village Capital programs put entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and stakeholders side-by-side so they can solve problems together, and build and contribute to ecosystems that support local entrepreneurs over the longer-term. The participating companies received training on investment readiness through a focus on human capital, customer development, strategic partnerships, and investor engagement. The program anchored around one-on-one time with mentors, industry experts, investors, top local business leaders, and potential customers.

“We have been proud to work with Village Capital to identify and support the next generation of FinTech entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Youssouf Sy, MasterCard Foundation. “These entrepreneurs are innovating to increase financial inclusion and improve livelihoods for low-income populations, which is core to our mission and vitally important for the communities the entrepreneurs are serving.”

The list of startup firms that participated in the full program:

  • IroFit has developed a mobile card reader that allows small businesses to accept card payments anywhere they operate, even in areas with poor internet connections;
  • LipaMobile has developed mPocket, a cashless transaction system used in schools by students to purchase goods using smart cards;
  • MaTontine digitizes the traditional peer-to-peer savings system in Africa, in order to offer financial services like small loans;
  • Olivinetech has created ASiM, a sales (POS) and stock management solution, that networks multiple sites seamlessly, such as an HQ with its warehouses, outlets, field sales/service agents, and customers;
  • ng is a FinTech service that works directly with financial institutions to enable debit card holders in Nigeria to save small sums of money frequently through automation of the saving process;
  • Student Finance Africa is using predictive analytics and credit assessment tools to assist young people and their families to obtain financial support for education when they need it and to pay it back when they can; and
  • TalentBase is a mobile-first payroll software for SMEs across Africa.

Since 2009, Village Capital has supported early-stage entrepreneurs developing critical agriculture, education, energy, financial services and health solutions for underserved populations worldwide. Its programs in Africa have supported entrepreneurs with mentorship, access to investor and partner networks and support through its award-winning curriculum. To date, Village Capital has invested more than US$300,000 in 11 companies in Africa, with those companies going on to secure more than US$5.5M in follow-on funding, excluding grants and awards.

About Village Capital
Village Capital is a global venture capital firm that discovers, develops, and invests in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems. Since 2009 we have been one of the world’s most active early-stage investors, investing in over 70 ventures across 15 countries and supporting hundreds more through our collaborative investment-readiness programs. Village Capital graduates have leveraged initial capital 25:1, created over 10,000 jobs, and served over 6 million customers. For more information, visit www.vilcap.com and follow @villagecapital on Twitter.
 
About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.
 
About The DOEN Foundation
The DOEN Foundation believes in a green, socially inclusive and creative society. We witness how people use enterprising approaches to actively come up with innovative solutions for a better world. With the contribution of the Dutch Charity Lotteries, the DOEN Foundation supports over 200 initiatives annually, through subsidies, equity investments, and loans. We support both large and small initiatives and we act from the philosophy: subsidize where necessary, provide equity investments, loans and guarantees where possible. Apart from financially helping these pioneers to realize their initiatives, the DOEN Foundation connects them to each other and brings their initiatives to the attention of a broad audience. For more information, visit http://www.doen.nl/home-1.htm

About VC4A
The Africa platform for startup funding, VC4A (Venture Capital for Africa) is a fast growing community of business professionals in 159 countries dedicated to building game changing companies on the African continent. VC4A started with the mission to build up Africa’s start-up community. Started in 2007, the network building organization has grown organically over the years into what is now the leading community working to build high growth high impact companies on the continent. For more information, visit
https://vc4a.com/

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