SA’s Wala wins Zambezi Prize for Financial Inclusion

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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.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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