Johannesburg, South Africa – The World Bank has awarded 10 fintech startups in Southern Africa with $5,000 (R94,020) each as part of its Fintech Challenge, aimed at promoting financial inclusion and supporting emerging companies in underserved communities.
The initiative seeks to bridge the gap in financial access by assisting entrepreneurs in the region to become investment-ready, thereby improving their access to markets, enhancing business networks, and unlocking new investment opportunities. The Fintech Challenge is a key component of the Southern Africa Innovation Bridge Portal, a collaborative effort supported by the World Bank to harness the potential of fintech innovations.
The Southern Africa Innovation Bridge Portal Entrepreneur Community is an innovative digital platform developed by the Department of Science and Innovation / Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development. It serves as a hub for fostering innovation, collaboration, knowledge sharing, co-creation, and matchmaking among ecosystem actors in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, eSwatini, and Lesotho.
During an eight-week investment readiness program that included masterclasses and mentoring, the most innovative and impactful fintech companies in the region showcased their solutions to enhance financial access for underserved populations. Out of the 15 participating startups, 10 were selected to receive the financial support. These selected businesses are now well-prepared for investment and eager to engage with potential investors.
Marie Francoise Marie-Nellie, World Bank Country Director for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “The region’s most innovative and impactful fintech companies unveiled their solutions to enable greater financial access to the poor. These startups have demonstrated their investment readiness through the program and are now keen to further engage with interested investors.”
The financial support provided by the World Bank will play a vital role in empowering these fintech startups to scale their operations, expand their reach, and make a significant impact in addressing the financial inclusion gap. By nurturing these emerging companies, the World Bank aims to foster economic growth, create employment opportunities, and stimulate innovation in the Southern African region.
With the support of the World Bank and the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, the fintech ecosystem in Southern Africa is poised for further development, offering promising solutions to improve financial services and uplift underserved communities.