20 SA fintech entrepreneurs selected for data science programme

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Twenty South African fintech entrepreneurs have been selected to take part in the Explore initiative, which aims to plug the gap in the dearth of data science skills and to boost top fintech ideas into viable business models.

Disrupt Africa reported in October the Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) and Rand Merchant Investments (RMI) fintech division AlphaCode had partnered to launch Explore, a 12-month data science and business skills programme for aspirant South African fintech entrepreneurs.

The initiative, described by its creators as a “mini MBA‘“aims to take the candidates’ fintech ideas and turn them into viable business models, while providing their creators with the entrepreneurial skills and business ability to back them. The programme is offered at no cost to the candidates and includes a stipend to cover major living expenses during the year.

Ideas that got candidates selected included a peer-to-peer blockchain-based authentication system for debit orders, a medical platform which enables low income individuals to access quality healthcare in the private sector, and a mobile payment app that allows parents to pay their children’s school fees while enabling them to save for their eventual tertiary education.

“The calibre of applicants and their ideas was impressive, demonstrating the depth of talent that exists within South Africans of all backgrounds. Data is the new oil and will drive the future of business.  Explore aims to produce great fintech entrepreneurs who can provide the necessary momentum to grow our economy,” said Shaun Dippnall, co-founder of the Explore Data Science Academy.

The entrepreneurs selected for Explore will go through an intensive six-month data science-training and coaching programme, where they will learn how to design a 10X business – one with exponential growth potential – along with the core digital skills needed to build a fintech organisation. This will be followed by three-months of intense business training, where their fintech ideas will be reviewed, assessed and refined.

“Each participant is matched with a seasoned fintech entrepreneur as a mentor who will assist them with their business pitch,” Dippnall said. “This is so that the entrepreneurs are given access to the best coaching and mentorship available with a view to their idea being accepted into the AlphaCode Incubate programme, which will offer further support.”

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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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