Nigerian, SA fintech startups receive Catalyst Fund capital, support

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Two fintech startups from Nigeria and one from South Africa have been selected to receive capital and venture building support from Catalyst Fund, the global inclusive fintech accelerator.

Managed by BFA Global, supported by UK aid and JPMorgan Chase & Co, and backed financially by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Catalyst Fund is an accelerator for inclusive fintech startups and innovation ecosystems, in emerging markets.

To date, Catalyst Fund has accelerated 31 portfolio companies that have gone on to raise more than US$64 million in follow-on funding and reach over two million low-income customers. It has just announced its latest cohort of six fintech startups, which includes three from Africa.

They include two from Nigeria, namely WellaHealth, which offers affordable healthcare coverage to protect families from the financial shock that comes from unexpected health emergencies; and Flex Finance, a financial management tool that enables micro and small businesses to digitise operations and establish a digital footprint.

The South African recipient is Paymenow, a financial wellness app that allows low-income workers to access part of their earned wages before payday. Disrupt Africa reported on the company’s seed round earlier this week.

Also selected were two Mexican companies – digital insurance platform Mango Life and affordable financing provider Graviti – and Indian company KarmaLife, which enables gig and essential services workers to stabilise incomes and access savings and insurance.

Each company is receiving GBP80,000 (US$100,000) in grant capital, bespoke and expert-led venture building support for six months, and one-on-one connections with investors and corporate innovators that can help them scale.

“We believe we are facing a catalytic moment during which there is an opportunity to use technology to help low-income consumers and small businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19 and build greater financial resilience for the future,” said Catalyst Fund director Maelis Carraro. 

“If we support the right companies now – from those finding new ways to provide affordable health and life insurance, to tools that can digitise micro and small businesses and provide new income opportunities, to those that can enable affordable access to essential services – these innovations can grow to play a critical role in improving financial health globally.”

Each startup in this cohort was sourced and approved by Catalyst Fund’s Investor Advisory Committee (IAC), comprising experienced fintech and emerging markets investors, including: Anthemis, Quona Capital, 500 Startups, Flourish Ventures, Accion Venture Lab and Gray Ghost Ventures.

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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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