10 African tech startups shortlisted for MIT’s prize for Innovation in financial inclusion

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation has announced 10 African startups to compete for the 2018 edition of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion.

The prestigious competition, awarding a total of $200,000 in prizes, was established in 2015 to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage start-ups that promote and advance financial inclusion on the continent.

1. Apollo Agriculture (Kenya) – helps farmers in emerging markets maximize their profits by using agronomic machine learning, remote sensing, and mobile phones to deliver input finance and customized advice to smallholder farmers with radical efficiency and scalability.

2. Bidhaa Sasa (Kenya) – deliver quality household goods to clients in Kenya’s rural heartlands, for whom the startup provide in-house credit, making modern products accessible and affordable.

3. FarmDrive (Kenya) – uses mobile phones, alternative data, and machine learning to close the critical data gap that prevents financial institutions from lending to creditworthy smallholder farmers.

4. Farmerline (Ghana) – Transforms smallholder farmers into successful entrepreneurs by increasing their access to information, inputs, and resources to increase productivity.

5. LanteOTC (South Africa) – an online market place that connects Businesses with Investors through Over The Counter online trading.

6. MaTontine (Senegal) – is a digital financial services platform that unlock access to financial and related services for our community

7. OZE (Ghana) – provides small businesses with the data they need to make decisions, enabling investment-readiness and a chance for a local economy to assert itself on a global stage

8. RecyclePoints (Nigeria) – is a waste recycling and social benefit venture that motivate post-consumers to recycle by enabling them redeem household items and cash for their waste hence creating value from their everyday waste

9. Tulaa (Kenya) – A mobile commerce solution built that combine mobile technology and last mile agent networks to connect agri-input suppliers, financial service providers and commodity buyers to smallholder farmers.

10. Wala (South Africa) – blockchain-powered financial services platform that offer a full suite of financial services like transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance

The finalists will join leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems on August 28 and 29 at the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The two-day event will include a VIP reception followed by the award ceremony at Strathmore University where the grand prize winner will be awarded $100,000. Two runners-up will each receive $30,000 while the seven remaining finalists will each receive $5,000 in cash prizes.

Additionally, the Legatum Center will award $5,000 to an African entrepreneur who demonstrated great leadership qualities to unify Africa’s tech ecosystem.

Zambezi Prize was established in 2015 to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage start-ups.

Some of the past Zambezi Prize finalists include Tugende who emerged third in 2015. It currently has at least 150 employees and has served over 12,000 customers.

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