BY TOM JACKSON
Seven African startups are among the eight selected to take part in the inaugural cohort of the Last Mile Money Accelerator, a four-month programme managed by IDEO and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The aim of the Last Mile Money Accelerator is to supercharge inclusive fintech startups with grant capital, world class design support from IDEO and IDEO.org, and connections to key strategic ecosystem partners.
With the rise of digital financial services accelerating, the risks of exclusion are growing for those without access to the digital economy, and thus the focus of the programme is on increasing the reach and quality of cash-in/cash-out locations where people can convert cash to digital money and vice versa.
“Cash-in cash-out agents play a critical role in bringing the promise of the digital economy closer to those who need it the most, yet the current models we see today often fall short of delivering on that promise, especially to those in rural areas in emerging markets. There’s a clear need for more innovation in this space, and that’s why we’re excited to support this cohort of world-class entrepreneurs operating across more than 10 countries,” said Dave Kim, programme officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
After evaluating 250 applications, the organisers have selected eight startups to join the Last Mile Money Accelerator. They include two from Kenya, namely PesaKit, a last mile agent network platform that is accelerating digital commerce and financial inclusion; and Tanda, which Tanda is building an ecosystem to enable people to digitally send, receive money and access essential financial services.
Also selected are Tanzania’s Kuunda, a B2B fintech company that has built growth APIs and a liquidity platform for micro-merchants and agent networks; Egypt’s Khazna, which provides underbanked Egyptians with a free prepaid debit card, earned wage access, buy-now-pay-later, bill payment and peer transfers all in-app; Sudan’s Alsoug.com, a classifieds platform that is launching a new fintech platform to support financial inclusion; Ghana’s Boost, which makes it easy for informal retailers to get and sell more of what their customers want; and Burkina Faso’s DuniaPay, a banking app powered by crypto that allows users to save, spend, invest and transfer money.
The cohort is completed by India’s Mool, which offers simplified access to savings and wealth management products for the underserved. As part of the programme each startup will be assisted with a particular part of their growth plan.