Kenyan based start-up emerges as runners up at Zambezi Prize, wins US$30,000

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Team Tulaa receiving their award at the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion.

Kenyan based start-up, Tulaa, was named by the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with support from the Mastercard Foundation, as a runners up in the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion, winning US$30,000 in the process.

This was announced during the Open Mic Africa Summit held recently in Nairobi Kenya. Tulaa, which is an agri-tech startup which provides a mobile commerce platform for rural consumers and producers in Africa. The startup was competing with South Africa’s Wala and Nigeria’s RecyclePoints for the grand prize of US$100,00. Wala emerged victorious while RecyclePoints won US$30,000 as the other runners up.

“Innovators like Wala and the other Zambezi finalists are vital to driving a more inclusive prosperity”, said Georgina Campbell Flatter, the Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center. “We’re excited to work with them.”

“We are immensely proud to support the Zambezi Prize,” said Ann Miles, Director of Thought Leadership and Innovation at the Mastercard Foundation. “It shines a bright light on the creativity and talent of Africa’s young people, and the thinking they bring to financial inclusion. This is making real differences in the lives of poor people on the continent.”

Zambezi Prize top 10

The three start-ups were chosen from among 10 finalists for the Zambezi Prize. All of them joined leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems for the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit at Strathmore University in Nairobi. The Summit, featuring cohort-building, panel discussions, and MIT hackathon exercises, culminated in the announcement of Wala as the US$100,000 grand prize winner.

The seven remaining finalists won US$5,000 each. They are Apollo Agriculture (Kenya), Bidhaa Sasa  (Kenya), FarmDrive  (Kenya), Farmerline  (Ghana), LanteOTC  (South Africa), MaTontine  (Senegal), and OZÉ  (Ghana).

An additional US$5,000 will be awarded to an African entrepreneur — to be named later this year — who has demonstrated great leadership in unifying Africa’s tech ecosystem.

All 10 Prize finalists will attend the Zambezi boot camp on the MIT campus during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala in Boston on November 5-9. As the Zambezi Prize winner, Wala also won the IIC Africa Prize in the Financial Inclusion category.

The startup will join the three other winners of the IIC Africa Prize, to represent Africa at the IIC global tournament which awards over $1 million in prizes. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, exemplifies MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.

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