MasterCard, through its initiative MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP), has named three African startups in its roster of nine companies that have been selected to benefit from grant funding worth up to USD 9 Mn in total. The move is aimed at supporting enterprises that are focused on promoting financial inclusion in rural communities.
The Fund which was launched in 2017 is said to have drawn interest from over 300 firms who were all jostling for places in the first two phases of the Fund’s 2017/2018 rolling competition, of which applications closed in January. This initial list of entries was subsequently whittled down, and it is from there that the nine benefitting startups from seven countries are believed to have been drawn.
The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity is aimed at identifying and enhancing the operations of financial products and services that are geared towards making the lives of economically-disadvantaged people living in rural African communities better. The fund is known to have its focus on supporting innovative and scalable financial products and services.
Kenya’s Apollo Agriculture and Uganda’s SolarNow are amongst African startups that were selected in the first phase of the Fund. The former which is an agritech startup that is in the business of serving up customized farm inputs on credit, as well as advice to farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, bagged USD 1.09 Mn to boost its operations. The latter; a solar startup that provides affordable power to people living in rural Uganda, received grant funding worth USD 740 K to facilitate its offerings.
The second phase of the Fund rewarded Ghana’s Farmerline with grant funding worth USD 692 K. The agritech startup is known to be making significant headway in the area of making such perks as financial services, information, and high-quality input easily accessible to local farmers in an effort to increase yield and boost income.
In countries like Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, and Sierra Leone, the Fund boasts a wider reach as it can now claim a presence in four additional countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This expansion may have something to do with the nature and geographical diversity of the new projects brought on board, and this is a move that now sees the FRP’s portfolio grow to 30 projects across 11 African countries.
For the third and fourth phases of the competition, financing for another group of assessed companies is expected to hit the ground running next year. And African startups will probably be fancying their chances of going home with some share of the spoils once again.
Image by Rewa Misra via MastercardFoundation