Luxembourg, 11 March 2020
Last Friday, 6th March, Hilda Moraa Morara, Founder and CEO of Pezesha, a peer-to-peer micro lending Marketplace that connects lenders with high quality, underserved, low income borrowers, won the Best Catapulter Award at the end of the CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2020 bootcamp. The award was announced and presented to Hilda by Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. Besting 12 other fintech finalists from Africa, Mrs Hilda Moraa Morara’s final pitch, in front of a prominent jury, focused on “purposeful financing”, helping to tackle the $19 Billion financing gap for SMEs in Kenya.
“Financial inclusion has to be meaningful, equal, contextual, purposeful and inclusive to those excluded and underserved”, said Hilda Moraa Morara, listed as one of the top 30 innovators in Africa in 2018 by Quartz Africa. Entrepreneur by nature, Hilda Moraa Morara started Pezesha after successfully exiting her first company, WezaTele.
CATAPULT: inclusion Africa is a week-long bootcamp on the theme of financial inclusion. The bootcamp is organised and delivered by the LHoFT Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, the European Investment Bank (EIB) alongside many key strategic partners from the finance and microfinance industry.
Building on local expertise and aligned with the sustainability goals of Luxembourg’s finance centre, CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa aims to help Fintech companies with the goal of improving financial inclusion across the African continent. Critically, the bootcamp serves to build bridges for business between Africa and Europe. After one week of intensive workshops, mentoring, training and networking, the participating Fintechs of the programme were celebrated by a full house of the Luxembourg financial services and Fintech ecosystem at a very special Fintech Friday, LHoFT’s popular monthly meetup. Minister Franz Fayot reminded the audience of our capacity to use our skills and experiences to do good, and announced the sponsorship of a special edition of the Catapult bootcamp to be held at the World Expo in Dubai in 2021.
For the 2020 edition of Catapult: Inclusion Africa, 13 Fintech startups were selected from 243 applications from 36 different countries. The programme was sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs and the European Investment Bank (EIB) and supported by key strategic partners such as ADA (Appui au Développement Autonome), InFine.lu, University of Luxembourg, LuxFlag, Innpact, MicroInsurance Network, KAP Innovation in Frontier Markets, LMDF (Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund), SPTF (Social Performance Task Force), the UN University Center for Policy Research, Compellio, Dupont Jensen, F6S, Grosbusch, Delta Cafe, Agence Deuux.
The CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa bootcamp covered a range of topics, including business model mapping, scaling strategies, peer due diligence processes, sales strategies, business plan presentation, operational and risk management, funding and capital raising as well as social impact.
The bootcamp culminated with a final pitch session and networking event, gathering the Luxembourg Microfinance, Financial Services and Fintech Community at the LHoFT’s Fintech Friday on 6th March. The 13 companies delivered their final pitches, leveraging the input they had received from the programme partners, experts and mentors over the course of the week-long bootcamp.
The jury, composed of Mrs Laura Foschi, Executive Director at ADA, Mr Thomas Lammar, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Mr Benjamin Deransart, Founder of KAP Innovation in Frontier, Mrs Hilda Damas Kasembe, Risk and Compliance Officer at PayPal EMEA, and Mr Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT, listened to passionate pitches from all the finalists and declared Mrs Hilda Moraa Morara as “Best Catapulter”. Mrs Morara received €3,000 prize money, a free membership at the LHoFT, and, thanks to the ADA, an entry, a stand and full accommodation to attend the “Assises de la Coopération Luxembourgeoise” in May 2020.
Mr. Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT Foundation, commented:
“I feel energised and inspired. The pitches from the participants were some of the best I have seen over the years. The programme brought together 13 incredible and impressive entrepreneurs all committed to deliver real impact. Their solutions are excellent and I am sure many will go on to achieve great things; hopefully the Catapult: Inclusion Africa will be a memorable contributor to their success. We are thankful for the commitment of the Luxembourg community who helped make this programme a success. I am extremely grateful to all our sponsors and partners.”
Mr. Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, added:
“Luxembourg is a global hotspot for innovation in the financial sector, including the microfinance sector. Our distinct ecosystem, which includes the public and private sector, as well as actors from the civil society, facilitates the exchange of expertise and experience. I’m glad to see that fintechs, which leverage the potential of digitalisation, have become active parts of this ecosystem. Progress would not happen as fast without the innovative solutions developed by dynamic fintech startups, which allow the financially excluded to finally lend, insure, save, and transfer money.”
The 13 Selected Fintech Startups
CinetPay- Côte d’Ivoire (https://cinetpay.com/)
CinetPay is a mobile money, credit card and other wallet payment gateway allowing e-commerce sites, e-service, companies and institutions to accept all means of payment online or offline in 8 countries in Africa.
A-Trader- Tanzania (http://www.atrader.co.tz/)
A-Trader are building a Robo-Advisor to provide automated investment recommendations for Africa’s growing middle class through real-time access to Africa’s Stock Markets, savings/investments options, and easily understandable structured financial instruments.
Dundiza- Tanzania (https://www.dundiza.com/)
Dundiza is the first digital wallet platform that enables young people and women living in marginalized communities to securely save and manage their money instantly while being to gain competitive interest and access credit scorings from the savings.
Esusu- Nigeria (https://esusu.africa/)
Esusu Africa Limited is tackling the problems of informal savings schemes across Africa. We do this through ELECTRONIC ESUSU, a digital platform designed to simplify thrift savings, collections and microcredit towards enhancing delivery of digital financial services to the last mile.
Eversend- France (https://eversend.co/)
Eversend is building a neobank for Africans, anywhere in the world A multi-currency e-wallet that allows users to exchange, spend and send money at the best possible rates. Insurance, virtual debit cards, and bill payments, and USSD channels so that anyone with a mobile phone can access financial services.
Exuus- Rwanda (https://exuus.com/)
Exuus aims to leverage the power of informal collective saving schemes through a digital and decentralized collective wallet for saving groups. They’ve created SAVE to allow both unbanked and underbanked population to access financial services without necessarily having a bank account.
OZE- US and Ghana (https://www.oze.guru)
OZÉ brings African SMEs into the digital era with an app that makes it easy for businesses to track sales, expenses, and customer information. The data is analyzed to provide tailored recommendations, reports, and business insights. If the entrepreneur needs a little extra support, an OZÉ Coach is just a click away.
PaddyCover- Nigeria (https://www.paddycover.com/)
PaddyCover is an insurance service aggregator and technology company, powering affordable pay-as-you-go insurance in Nigeria & Africa, working with established insurers and customer aggregators to offer a multi-channel platform that facilitates flexible and convenient payment.
People’s Pension Trust- Ghana (https://www.peoplespensiontrust.com/)
People’s Pension trust offers pension products to workers in the informal sector (farmers, market women, self-employed, taxi drivers etc. for which people can save daily, weekly or monthly, with flexible contribution amounts, done by mobile phone or other means.
Pezesha- Kenya (https://pezesha.com/)
Pezesha is a holistic digital financial marketplace & infrastructure for underserved MSMEs in Africa. Offering lending, financial education, and debt counselling to borrowers, plus a proprietary credit scoring system to vet MSMEs without a credit history, de-risking lending to SMEs.
SmartTeller – Nigeria (https://smartteller.net)
SmartTeller is a digital banking platform for Financial cooperatives, bringing access to digital financial services to the underbanked by providing cooperatives and microfinance institutions the all-inclusive tool to provide standard financial services.
SympliFi- United Kingdom (https://www.symplifi.co.uk/)
SympliFi is a global online marketplace that enables diaspora around the world to easily access impactful financial solutions in their home country for self and family, at the touch of a button, because people want to do more than just send money back home.
uKheshe- South Africa & UK (https://ukheshe.co.za/)
uKheshe is a unique digital payment acceptance platform that enables informal merchants and traders to accept card payments without the need of a bank account, smartphone or formal business registration. Using payments as the catalyst to access broader financial services such as lending and insurance.