DFS Lab, the fintech accelerator funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has announced it is investing a total of US$200,000 in four startups building financial service products for low-income and unbanked consumers in developing markets.
Three of those startups are from Africa, namely South African community-minded savings product Nobuntu, Kenyan mobile-based credit and financial literacy platform Cherehani Africa, and a second, unnamed startup from Kenya, which is still in “stealth mode”.
US-based fintech startup NALA, which is building a Venmo-like interface to create a single, unified wallet for Tanzanian smartphone users, also secured funding.
DFS Lab seeks to identify promising entrepreneurs and invest in for-profit companies that focus on consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In December 2017, finalists representing nine companies from six countries – Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Indonesia, Cameroon, France, and the United States – went through an intensive one-week bootcamp programme to refine their solutions and present them to DFS Lab’s board of experts in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
After the culmination of the programme, the accelerator has now invested in four of those startups.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to invest in companies that are creating products that will improve, simplify, and enrich people’s lives,” said DFS Lab director Dr Jake Kendall.
“Our current set of portfolio companies are using technology to create solutions for low-income and unbanked populations, providing high-impact advancement. We look forward to seeing these companies grow and encourage others to look at Africa and Asia for investment opportunities.”