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15 FinTech Startups Boosting Financial Inclusion in Africa

Did you know that out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations, seven pertain to financial inclusion? Unfortunately, even in 2019, financial inclusion remains one of the most critical challenges faced by countries – especially developing ones – around the globe. Both private players and policymakers are looking to tackle this issue through improved regulation for the underserved, increased funding for amenities such as electricity and internet, and encouraging scalable solutions through FinTech. Despite this, data shows us that 1.7 billion people globally still lack a bank account. And when we think of underserved, one of the first regions that come to mind is Africa.

However, from the ‘glass-half-full perspective,’ Africa may be termed a success story. How? Today, as per research by Mastercard and International Finance Corporation reports, the continent has the maximum number of digital financial services deployments than any other region in the world. Moreover, Africa accounts for about half of the 700 million individual users worldwide, but there’s still a long way to go. The need to improve financial inclusion in the region remains a priority, especially considering its population of 1.3 billion people.

To boost financial inclusion, the efforts of governments, banks, and existing telecom players continue to remain crucial, but increasingly, FinTech startups are also playing a key role. In light of this, MEDICI presents to you some of the high-performing startups headquartered in Africa which have been working towards strengthening financial inclusion in the region:

  1. Akiba Digital, headquartered in South Africa, is a savings platform. It provides a gamified platform for underserved/unbanked users to make the savings experience fun and rewarding. An AI bot called ‘Gagu’ educates, nudges, and provides insights to clients to ensure they realize their goals. The startup was founded in 2017 and has raised an undisclosed round of seed funding.
  2. Farmdrive, headquartered in Kenya, provides an alternative credit risk assessment model. This enables financial institutions with agriculturally relevant and data-driven models to assess risk and develop loans that fit the needs of smallholder farmers. This model allows the unbanked population to apply for loans provided by banks and other financial institutions. The startup was founded in 2014 and has raised an undisclosed venture round of funding.
  3. Branch, headquartered in Kenya, provides a new way to access credit over a smartphone. Customers are required to fill out an application for an affordable loan that is delivered directly to their mobile money account. The company offers personalized, responsive customer support that meets their needs. The startup was founded in 2015 and has raised $250 million in total funding.
  4. Jumo, headquartered in South Africa, is a mobile money marketplace for African people, small businesses, and mobile network operators. The company’s platform uses behavioral data from mobile usage to create financial identities for enterprises. It also connects investors with borrowers to determine the optimal interest rates for candidates. The company is also present in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ghana. The startup was founded in 2014 and has raised $67.5 million in total funding.
  5. Cellulant, headquartered in Kenya, is a digital payments service provider. It powers transactions for farmers, merchants, and utility facilities across Africa. The company provides a mobile payment ecosystem connecting consumers, merchants, banks, etc. The startup was founded in 2004 and has raised $47.5 million in total funding.
  6. Paga Wallet, headquartered in Nigeria, is an e-wallet. It allows merchants to collect payment from shoppers who do not have bank accounts. The company offers services, including money transfers, bill payments, remittances, bulk disbursements, etc. It allows for both online payments via their app/website and offline payments via dialing. The startup was founded in 2009 and has raised $35 million in total funding.
  7. Yoco, headquartered in South Africa, provides merchants with a mobile POS and card acceptance solution. The company’s solution includes the mobile app and either a plug-in card reader or a wireless card reader. The startup was founded in 2012 and has raised $23.1 million in total funding.
  8. Zoona, headquartered in South Africa, is a payments company. Its services include money transfers, electronic voucher payments, and agent payments. The startup was founded in 2009 and has raised $20 million in total funding.
  9. MFS Africa, headquartered in South Africa, provides financial offers to unbanked and underbanked customers. It also offers forex, technical interconnection, and financial settlements between banks, mobile wallet operators, financial organizations, and other partners. The startup was founded in 2010 and has raised $14 million in total funding.
  10. Lidya, headquartered in Nigeria, provides an online lending platform for Nigeria-based SMEs and individuals. Its credit algorithms allow SMEs to build a credit score and access financing to grow their businesses. The startup was founded in 2016 and has raised $8.15 million in total funding.
  11. Lendable, headquartered in Kenya, provides capital to alternative lenders against their loan book receivables. It provides structured finance facilities to various segments, including small business lenders, off-grid energy companies, and asset finance companies. The startup was founded in 2014 and has raised $6.5 million in total funding.
  12. AllLife, headquartered in South Africa, provides innovative life insurance products for those living with HIV and diabetes. It uses algorithmic pricing, robo-underwriting, and a health-centered approach to treatment. The startup was founded in 2004 and has raised $6 million in total funding.
  13. Kopo Kopo, headquartered in Kenya, offers software-as-a-service. It enables 30 million small and medium enterprises in emerging markets to accept, process, and manage mobile money payments. The startup was founded in 2010 and has raised $5.6 million in total funding.
  14. Inclusivity Solutions, headquartered in South Africa, is a digital insurance solutions provider. It works with mobile operators, insurance companies, and other distribution partners that meet the needs of emerging consumers. Digital insurance products boost the financial inclusion rate in the country as mobile penetration is also high. The startup was founded in 2016 and has raised $1.56 million in total funding.
  15. Aella Credit, headquartered in Nigeria, provides an instant and online credit facility to salaried employees. The company offers personal loans ranging from N100,000 to N1,000,000 for up to 12 months. It underwrites loans with a proprietary algorithm focused on the Nigerian market and integrated with the credit bureaus. The startup was founded in 2015 and has raised over $1 million in total funding.

Source: MEDICI Database.

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