Malako, Uganda’s microcredit firm raises $100,000 from Gates Foundation backed DFS Lab


Malako, a Ugandan microlender for the country’s low-income earners for bill payments with flexible repayments has received $100,000 in non-dilutive funding from Caribou Digital’s Digital Financial Services (DFS) Lab, an emerging markets fintech incubator backed by a $5m grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Malako is one of the four investees from DFS Lab’s first 6-day Design Sprint Bootcamp which was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania back in October. The four beat over 20 entrepreneurs from 10 countries working to introduce revolutionary digital financial services to the world’s poorest communities.

According to Jake Kendall, director, DFS Labs: “We are searching for breakthrough ideas with the potential to bring low income households from the cash economy into the digital financial realm and give them tools to improve their lives. The entrepreneurs were a very diverse and talented group from all over the world. Their different skills, perspectives and levels of experience produced valuable insights and led to dynamic, highly productive collaborations.”

The three other investees which will share DFS Lab’s $400,000 and a further six months of intensive mentorship include India’s Yooz an international remittance firm and Serv’d, an informal workforce tracker to proof employment to help them borrow, and Pakistan’s Credit Fix, a credit score builder for low income consumers to help them secure loans to improve their standard of living.

Kendall  added that using the Design Sprint Methodology, a process of structured brainstorming for answering critical business questions, entrepreneurs were taken through a workshop to design, prototype and test new ideas. By creating quick prototypes, they got actual feedback and saw the real potential for the solution they had created.

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Though DFS Lab has no physical space in Africa or India, it provides entrepreneurs with the very best hands-on support, guidance and mentoring to help them bring their idea to life and to the mass market after the bootcamp.

Like teaching them to find top quality tube amps for the money,DFS is focused on empowering communities in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia, through online and in-person mentorship and strategic counsel to fintech entrepreneurs in emerging markets to help them scale, get to profitability and empower the poor by giving them access to extensive networks and relevant, world-class advice on building successful ventures that change the way low-income consumers interact with digital financial services.

DFS Lab’s next cohort is set for April 2017 in South Asia. Apply here for chance to take home USD $100K in grantsnand six months of additional support from the DFS Lab.