Visa announced a tech startup based in Kenya, Mookh Africa, as the overall winner of its first ever Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) Everywhere Initiative, a global program aimed at startups and designed to encourage the development of the next big thing in payments. The winning solution beat 11 other finalists selected from 238 submissions to emerge as the champions.
The SSA program was structured around three real life business challenges:
- Merchant Payments Challenge: How to enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
- Social Business Payments Challenge: How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments?
- Financial Inclusion Challenge: How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?
Mookh Africa developed a social business payments solution which makes it easy for people in Africa to buy and sell on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Once the seller creates an online store on Mookh, they can embed it into their Facebook page. The Kenyan startup won both the “Social Business Payments” challenge as well as the overall prize for its idea. The company took home US$50,000 and the opportunity to work with Visa to develop the concept further.
Nigerian startup, CredPal, won the “Merchant Payments” challenge and US$25,000 for its solution that allows business and individuals to pay for purchases in installments across online and offline merchants by providing them with instant access to credit at the point of checkout. The merchant then fulfills the order and is paid in full while the customer pays CredPal back in fixed monthly installments.
Zowasel, another Nigerian startup, developed a solution which connects under-financed smallholder farmers with investors via mobile phone-based P2P lending and marketplace sales, as well as gives them access to best agricultural practices. They won in the “Financial Inclusion” challenge. The SSA edition of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is also the first time that startups have been given a challenge specific to financial inclusion since it was launched in 2015.
Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, sub-Sahara Africa at Visa, said: We have had the privilege of working with some of the best minds in the region over the last few months and the selected three category winners have the potential to truly change the way people pay in the region. We congratulate Mookh Africa, CredPal, and Zowasel and thank all the finalists for participating in the Everywhere Initiative.”
She added: “The future of digital payments will be shaped through collaboration and we look forward to working with our startup partners to transform the payments landscape over the coming years to the benefit of consumers, merchants and issuers alike. It’s an exciting time in Africa’s payments and fintech space.”
Sunny Walia, General Manager: Visa East Africa, said: “Visa is proud to play its part in Africa by enabling a smart economy powered by secure digital payments. This vision comes to life when we can collaborate with passionate minds and foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem where innovators can thrive. Today, we saw this passion and innovation first-hand; and we are excited to build on the technologies that have secured the top positions in each of these challenges. Together with Visa and our financial institution partners, we would love to see at least some of these become a reality for consumers in the near future.”
Carmen Whatley, Managing Director, Accenture Digital Financial Services and one of the judges for the final said: “VEI is a very powerful initiative. Africa is always made to feel like the lost continent and today we saw what is coming out of the continent. It was mind-blowing and a reminder that good ideas are everywhere. I am energized. It was amazing for me to see that we had a panel of judges who came from very different backgrounds and looked at this from very different angles; and we unanimously decided on the winners. There were very clear, innovative ideas; or ones with phenomenal social impact. All the winners have incredible ideas for Africa – from opening up access to finance for customer, to linking up small farmers with financers – biggest highlight has been seeing these ideas and their social impact.”
Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is a global program designed to support the company’s goal of fostering the growth of next generation payment technologies. This is the first time Visa has rolled out its Everywhere Initiative in Sub Sahara Africa and shortlisted fintechs from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia took part in the final pitch event. To date, nearly 2,100 fintech startups from across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia have participated.