October 07, 2018

Kenyans dominate $200,000 financial inclusion competition

The Legatum Center and Mastercard Foundation are offering $100,000 for the best financial innovation.

August 9, 2018—Kenyan companies dominate the list of 10 finalists for the 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in financial inclusion being offered by the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship together with the Mastercard Foundation both based in the United States. Winners will share out $200,000.

The finalists are Apollo Agriculture (Kenya); Bidhaa Sasa (Kenya); FarmDrive (Kenya); Farmerline (Ghana); LanteOTC (South Africa); MaTontine (Senegal);  OZE (Ghana);  RecyclePoints (Nigeria); Tulaa (Kenya) and Wala (South Africa).

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship is located at the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is a community hub for students, alumni and faculty who seek to accelerate social and economic progress through innovation-driven entrepreneurship. The Center was founded in order to demonstrate the power of entrepreneurship to catalyze transformation in society and to improve global well-being.

Georgina Campbell Flatter, the center’s executive director said on Wednesday.“We are pleased to welcome the 2018 finalists into the MIT Zambezi family. They represent some of the world’s most innovative change agents.”

Since its founding in 2006, the Mastercard Foundation has grown into one of the largest foundations in the world. It has partnered with a number of worldwide NGOs and core partners aiming to ameliorate financial life, primarily in developing countries. Mastercard has an objective is to use a $2 billion endowment on microfinance programs.

The finalists will join leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems on August 28th and 29th at the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The two-day event will include a high-profile 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 Center will award $5,000 to an African entrepreneur who demonstrated great leadership qualities to unify Africa’s tech ecosystem. All finalists will participate in cohort-building and mentoring activities with MIT leaders and Zambezi alumni companies during the event.

Ali Diallo, the Global Programs Manager of the MIT Legatum Center said, “The finalists demonstrated strong leadership and innovation in the way they are solving financial inclusion challenges. We also want to thank the hundreds of great start-ups that applied to this competition and shared with us their inspiring ventures, visions, and insights for advancing financial inclusion. We hope to keep them all engaged through our upcoming initiatives.”

The winners will be invited to attend the Zambezi boot camp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge gala on the MIT campus in Boston on November 5th-9th, 2018. They also will be fast-tracked to the IIC global grand prize with up to $1 million available in funding for the winner.

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