4 West African Startups, Among 6 Others Selected For 2018 Zambezi Prize For Innovation In Financial Inclusion

By  |  August 10, 2018

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship, co-functioning with the Mastercard Foundation, has announced the 10 finalists for the 2018 leg of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. West Africa scoops 4 spots among 6 others have been selected to compete in the final round of the initiative.

The competition which awards a sum of USD 200 K in prizes, was founded in 2015 to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage startups that do well to promote as well as advance financial inclusion in Africa.

Of the 4 West African startups still in the game, Farmerline and OZE are from Ghana, MaTontine is from Senegal and RecyclePoints is from Nigeria.

Farmerline is a learning and communication tool that gives on-time, precise information to small farmers and agricultural workers. Buyers, sellers and other organizations interested in agriculture can send mass messages by voice/SMS, conduct mobile surveys, and for call-in services at a low cost.

MaTontine seeks to solve a current and challenging problem that exists in Africa and the developing world: how to offer financial services like small loans at scale to the financially excluded. The startup does this by digitizing an existing, traditional, peer-to-peer savings system with millions of users called Tontines in Francophone Africa in order to provide services like loans & micro-medical insurance.
RecyclePoints is Nigeria’s foremost waste recycling and social benefit venture that motivate post-consumers to recycle by creating value from their everyday waste.

The Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center, Georgina Campbell Flatter, said “We are pleased to welcome the 2018 finalists into the MIT Zambezi family. They represent some of the world’s most innovative change agents”.

According to Ali Diallo, the Global Programs Manager of the MIT Legatum Center, “The finalists demonstrated strong leadership and innovative by way of solving financial inclusion challenges. We also want to thank the hundreds of great startups that applied for this challenge and shared with us their inspiring ventures, visions, and insights for enhancing financial inclusion. We hope to keep them all engaged through our upcoming initiatives”.

All 10 finalists will join leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems on the 28th and 29th of August, 2018 at the MIT Open Mic Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. This two-day event will include a VIP reception followed by the award ceremony at the Strathmore University, where the grand prize winner will be announced and presented with USD 100 K. The two runners-up will each be awarded USD 20 K, and the seven remaining finalists will receive cash prizes of USD 5 K each.

Also, the Legatum Center will award USD 5 K to an African entrepreneur who demonstrated great leadership qualities in the process of unifying the tech ecosystem of Africa.

All the finalists will participate in cohort-building and mentoring activities with the leaders of MIT and Zambezi alumni companies during the event. The winners will then be invited to pay attendance in the Zambezi boot camp which will hold during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala on the MIT campus in Boston on November 5th and 9th, 2018. Winning startups will also be fast-tracked to the IIC global prize with up to USD 1 Mn available in funding for the winner.

Catch up on the Kenyan and South African startups that as well made the list.

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