Catalyst Fund, Mastercard Foundation, MEST launch $4.3m Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator in Ghana

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Catalyst Fund has partnered the Mastercard Foundation and MEST to launch its Inclusive Digital Accelerator programme in Ghana, the first expansion of its flagship inclusive fintech programme.

Catalyst Fund, which is managed by BFA Global, said the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator was aimed at scaling digital commerce companies in Ghana, and would officially launch at a virtual event on November 4.

The accelerator aims to improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of informal micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Ghana – who have been hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis – by scaling digital commerce companies. The accelerator will select innovative companies that can enable informal MSEs to reap the benefits of digital commerce.

Six digital commerce companies will he selected to be scaled over the next two years, leveraging Catalyst Fund’s model to combine flexible grant capital of up to US$120,000, expert-led venture acceleration support, portfolio meet-ups and curated cohort-based workshop sessions, and connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors and Circle of Corporate Innovators

“We’re thrilled to announce the first Catalyst Fund expansion programme, which builds on lessons learned supporting inclusive fintech companies in emerging markets over the last five years. Through the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, we aim to impact informal MSEs in Ghana who, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, lack access to a financial safety net and find their livelihoods impacted when physical commerce suffers,” said Catalyst Fund managing director Maelis Carraro. 

“Along with support and deep local expertise from Mastercard Foundation and MEST, we aim to enable companies who are already tackling distinct problems in the digital commerce space to better reach informal MSEs so they can leverage digital rails to improve their financial resilience for the future.” 

Country partner MEST brings deep market knowledge, leveraging more than 12 years of experience training and incubating tech entrepreneurs on the ground in Ghana. 

“The opportunity to partner with an experienced organisation like Catalyst Fund, with support from the Mastercard Foundation, is equal parts exciting and aligned with MEST’s scale strategy in Ghana, and in time, beyond,” said MEST strategic director Greg Coussa.     

“Historically, MEST has focused on early-stage startup support and creation through our training programme, seed fund, and incubator programmes. The Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator gives us an opportunity to work with Catalyst Fund to support scale-stage ventures who are strategically seeking to better reach and serve informal MSEs, leveraging our local knowledge, networks, and expertise.”

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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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