Applications are open for the Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture accelerator’s East African leg, with the programme aiming to unlock innovations which improve access to financial services for smallholder farmers.
Successful applicants will receive business development training, mentorship from industry experts and investors, as well as the opportunity to engage with potential customers; with the two outstanding startups of the cohort to win US$50,000 each to grow their businesses.
12 applicants will be chosen to participate in the three month accelerator, based on their capacity to increase the income of smallholder farmers through increasing access to financial services solutions.
“Village Capital connects the best early-stage entrepreneurs to real customer needs across the world, and smallholder farmers in East Africa need access to quality financial services,” said Ross Baird, executive director of the Village Capital programme.
“We are addressing this problem by training local start-ups to scale their impact to benefit local farmers,” Baird said.
The programme is intended to create 200 jobs in East Africa over the next two years, with the target being that 60 per cent of these go to those living under the poverty line; while participating startups are expected to increase their revenues 4.5 times, and distribute to a customer base of at least 200,000 people.
The accelerator is launched through a partnership between Village Capital, The MasterCard Foundation, and Duncan Goldie-Scot.
The organisers said they are interested primarily in startups addressing a problem in the agriculture sector, or those for whom smallholder farmers or agribusinesses form their target market.
Specifically, Village Capital said applicants’ innovations should improve access to payments, financial security, accounting, cash management, credit, loans, cash advances, or other financial services for smallholder farmers or agribusinesses; or should be ventures that increase access to financial services in agriculture, or for which smallholders or agribusinesses represent part or all of their customer base.
Innovations that provide affordable extensions of credit, loans, cash advances or other financial services to financially underserved households, smallholder farmers or businesses in the agricultural value chain; as well as technologies that extend traditional financial services (savings, credit, loans, insurance) to financially underserved households, individuals or businesses in alternative ways will also be considered.
Ideally, applicants should have first-to-market innovations.
Applicants will be judged on scalability, will be revenue making, and will be in need of series A funding (not having taken on major institutional funding previously).
Applications can be made online until February 25, with successful applicants to be named in March.