South African fintech startup Wala has been named winner of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion, taking home US$100,000 in prize money.
The annual Zambezi Prize, run by the the Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship and the Mastercard Foundation, offers US$200,000 in total prize money to innovators in fintech.
South Africa-based Wala was chosen from a group of 10 finalists as winner of the prize, for its mobile financial platform geared toward consumers operating outside the formal financial system.
Using a blockchain system, it enables zero-fee, instant, borderless micro-payments for emerging market consumers. Through the Wala platform, users receive a cryptocurrency wallet and can access transactional banking, remittances, loans, and insurance.
Kenya’s Tulaa and Nigeria’s RecyclePoints were named runners-up, each winning US$30,000, while the seven remaining finalists won US$5,000 each. They were Kenyan startups Apollo Agriculture, Bidhaa Sasa and FarmDrive, Ghana’s Farmerline and OZÉ, South Africa’s LanteOTC, and Senegal’s MaTontine.
An additional US$5,000 will be awarded to an African entrepreneur – to be named later this year – who has demonstrated great leadership in unifying Africa’s tech ecosystem.
“Innovators like Wala and the other Zambezi finalists are vital to driving a more inclusive prosperity,” said Georgina Campbell Flatter, executive director of the MIT Legatum Centre. “We’re excited to work with them.”