SWIFT announces today that the Innotribe Startup Challenge for Africa is open for applications.
For the second year running, the Innotribe Startup Challenge for Africa will be part of SWIFT’s African Regional Conference (ARC) held in Mauritius from 17-19 May.
The Innotribe Startup Challenge gives young African financial technology startups the opportunity to showcase their products and receive expert coaching and mentoring. Twelve companies will be selected to compete in the event, with three finalists selected to attend Sibos, SWIFT’s annual global financial services conference. At Sibos, which takes place from 26-29 September in Geneva, the finalists will share the stage with fintech experts and receive a 10,000 USD cash prize each.
Fabian Vandenreydt, Global Head of Securities, Innotribe, and the SWIFT Institute at SWIFT says: “With a billion-plus population, an emerging middle class, fast economic growth and a high expansion of both internet access and mobile penetration, Africa is a hotbed of fintech activity with a lot of ideas, resources and talent still to uncover. Through the Startup Challenge, we want to spotlight innovation playing a role in the future of the financial industry across the African continent and provide an opportunity for young fintech companies to use Innotribe’s network and alumni to help them develop to the best of their potential.”
Launched in 2011, the Startup Challenge has become one of the leading global startup competitions, connecting the financial services industry with more than 650 fintech startups around the world and reaching over 4,000 audience members through global showcases and networking events.
Last year for the first time Innotribe, SWIFT’s innovation arm, partnered with ARC to bring the Startup Challenge to Africa, showcasing vibrant businesses and a genuine spirit of innovation. It highlighted how much SWIFT’s member institutions are keen to understand the fintech innovation that is happening in their own communities and the importance for local startups to benefit from in-depth industry feedback and gain exposure at a global stage.
As a result, Innotribe has evolved its Startup Challenge to focus on emerging fintech ecosystems (Africa and Latin America in 2016), moving from a global competition to a local programme, supporting innovation where demographic trends, economic growth and regional integration projects are creating fertile ground for new technologies to emerge.
Last year, iwiafrica, a Uganda-based company powering payments and e-commerce solutions for businesses in emerging markets, was one of the African startups selected to participate in Sibos 2015 in Singapore. Allan Rwakatungu, CEO of iwiafrica, says: "Participating in the Innotribe Startup Challenge was one of the most awesome experiences in my life. The most valuable thing is to meet companies, not only startups participating in the programme but also large banks and vendors from all over the world, make connections and close collaboration deals."
Another finalist from the 2015 Startup Challenge was YueDiligence. Keet Van Zyl, CEO, says: “The quality and robustness of Innotribe coaches not only helped us shape our pitch, but also made us rethink key elements of our business model. The diverse networks and game-changing fintech topics at Sibos improved our market access to accelerate growth”. Based in South-Africa, YueDiligence is an interactive web-based tool that increases due diligence efficiency for entrepreneurs, investors and service providers through process automation.
Typically attracting up to 500 delegates from more than 40 countries, ARC is a unique forum for networking, and debate, and the ideal platform for startups to showcase their new concepts and products to policy makers, industry leaders and the broader financial and corporate community from across Africa.
Applications to the 2016 Startup Challenge for Africa are now open until mid-March 2016.
The successful applicants will be announced in April 2016.