Visa Accelerator Programme to enable Africa’s Startups to Innovate and Flourish

accelerator

Africa is home to some of the most dynamic and promising fintech startups in the world, as the continent embraces digital transformation and financial inclusion. To support this vibrant ecosystem, Visa, a global leader in digital payments, launched its Africa Fintech Accelerator program in June 2023, to enable Africa’s expanding startup community by bringing expertise, connections, technology, and investment funding.

The program is a six-month virtual accelerator that provides selected fintech startups with access to Visa’s network of mentors, partners, and clients, as well as tailored curriculum and workshops to help them scale their businesses. The program also offers up to $100,000 in equity-free funding for each startup, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with Visa on innovative solutions for the African market.

The program is open to seed to Series A startups operating in Africa that fall under six categories: unlocking money movement, embedded finance, empowering merchants and SMEs, payment infrastructure enablers, the future of finance, and sustainable and inclusive finance. These categories reflect the key challenges and opportunities for fintech innovation in Africa, as well as Visa’s strategic focus areas.

On February 13th, 2024, Visa held its first demo day for the program in Nairobi, Kenya, where the first cohort startups showcased their innovations to key ecosystem players, funding partners, angel investors, and venture capitalists. The event was attended by over 200 guests, including representatives from leading banks, telcos, regulators, and media outlets.

The first-cohort startups were selected from more than 1,000 applicants across diverse subsectors, including merchant payment solutions, lending infrastructure, Banking-as-a-Service, and B2B marketplaces. They represented 18 countries across Africa, demonstrating the diversity and potential of the continent’s fintech landscape.

The fintechs that participated in the first demo day were:

  • Duqha: A Kenyan startup that provides a digital platform for informal traders to access credit, inventory, and market insights.
  • Power: A Kenyan startup that enables consumers to pay for electricity using any mobile money service, and provides data-driven insights to utilities and regulators.
  • Workpay: A Kenyan startup that offers a cloud-based payroll and human resource management solution for SMEs, with features such as automated tax compliance, employee loans, and insurance.
  • OkHi: A Nigerian startup that leverages GPS and smartphone technology to create and verify physical addresses for individuals and businesses, enabling access to essential services such as e-commerce, banking, and emergency response.
  • Eversend: A Ugandan startup that offers a multi-currency e-wallet that allows users to send and receive money, exchange currencies, pay bills, and access other financial services across Africa and beyond.
  • And more: Other startups that participated in the demo day included Payflexi (Nigeria), Pezesha (Kenya), Spoon (South Africa), Stitch (South Africa), Swipe2pay (Uganda), Tanda (Kenya), Taptap Send (UK), TymeBank (South Africa), Ukheshe (South Africa), Wallets Africa (Nigeria), Xend (Nigeria), and Zazu (Zambia).

Following the success of the inaugural accelerator, Visa is inviting a second round of disruptive startups to apply to the program, in an ongoing effort to support Africa’s growing fintech ecosystem. Applications are open until February 29th, 2024, and can be submitted on the Visa website.

Otto Williams, Senior Vice President, Head of Product, Partnerships and Digital Solutions for Visa Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA), said: “Following the success of the inaugural accelerator, Visa is inviting a second round of disruptive startups to apply to the program, in an ongoing effort to support Africa’s growing fintech ecosystem. This unique experience will offer entrepreneurs an opportunity for mentorship and fast-tracked growth, while also providing them access to a wider network of partners and investors.”

He added: “We are very impressed by the quality and diversity of the first-cohort startups, and the innovative solutions they are developing to address the challenges and opportunities in the African market. We look forward to working with them and the next cohort of startups to accelerate the adoption of digital payments and financial inclusion in Africa.”

Visa’s Africa Fintech Accelerator program is a testament to the company’s commitment to fostering fintech innovation and collaboration in Africa, as well as its vision of creating a more connected and inclusive world through digital payments. By supporting the next generation of African fintech entrepreneurs, Visa is not only enabling their growth and success but also contributing to the economic and social development of the continent.

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