African-focused digital commerce startups joining this accelerator to receive $120K in grants

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The Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, managed by BFA Global has formed an expert Investment Advisory Committee (IAC) responsible for nomination and selection of digital commerce companies for the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator.

The IAC was formed in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and will be joined by Lexi Novitske of Acuity Venture Partners, Bruce Lule of Chandaria Capital, Harriet Adinkrah of 4DX Ventures, Sangu Delle of Golden Palm Investments, Brian Odhiambo of Novastar Ventures and Gregory Rockson of mPharma.

“We’re excited to bring these experienced and passionate advisors onboard to share their knowledge of Ghana’s digital commerce space, as we work together to grow the sector. We will work closely with them to identify and mentor those growth-stage companies that we believe can have the most significant impact on the livelihoods of MSEs, that are really the bedrock of the Ghanaian economy,” said Jane del Ser, Program Director at Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce.

The organizations are now on the hunt for Ghana-based startups that directly serve or enable informal MSEs, especially those operated by women and youth, and that have enough traction and growth potential to meaningfully scale.

Launched on November 4th, 2020, the Accelerator will select and scale six digital commerce companies, over the next two years, that can better enable informal micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Ghana, who have been most impacted by COVID-19, to reap the benefits of digital commerce. The goal is to improve their livelihoods and financial resilience.

Companies selected for the accelerator will receive:

  • flexible grant capital of up to US$120,000 per company;
  • deep, bespoke, expert-led venture acceleration support for 6 months, followed by light touch support;
  • portfolio meet-ups and curated cohort-based workshop sessions with local expertise, access to mentors, and operational support by MEST; 
  • a commitment to sharing best practices, toolkits, learnings, and insights with the digital commerce sector;
  • connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors (65+) and Circle of Corporate Innovators; and
  • ecosystem acceleration to create a more enabling investment and business environment in which digital commerce companies can prosper.

“Right now there are a lot of fast-growing African tech companies, evidenced by the recent acquisition of PayStack and Series B round from Chipper Cash, that are enabling the growth of inclusive digital commerce,” said Sangu Delle, Chairman of Golden Palm Investments Corporation. “These companies have achieved what it takes to scale a business in an emerging economy and represent what is possible in different African contexts, and our continent’s future. This is the appeal for me to join the IAC as a member, working with a program that is doing more than providing capital for startups, and in turn, cultivating a quality pipeline and an ecosystem for companies to thrive in. We’ve seen that tailored support like what Catalyst Fund offers can make a difference in enabling companies to scale faster.”  

Following the proven model of Catalyst Fund’s flagship Inclusive Fintech Accelerator, whose IAC comprises Quona Capital, Flourish Ventures, Anthemis Capital, Better Tomorrow Ventures, Grey Ghost Ventures and Accion Venture Lab, the Inclusive Digital Commerce IAC will leverage their experience in-market to recommend and approve companies for the program, as well as mentor those chosen throughout their acceleration.

“The Investment Advisory Committee will play a critical role by providing guidance and supporting the process to identify, shape and scale promising Ghanaian digital companies that will drive a bold agenda to digitize the MSE space and open access to new markets for the sector,” commented Nathalie Akon Gabala, Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa.

From Catalyst Fund’s flagship Inclusive Fintech program, IAC members have also gone on to invest in the companies they sponsored for the program, including Quona Capital who led the $14M Series A round for Sokowatch, and BTV who invested in Chipper Cash, which recently announced a $30M Series B round.

Digital commerce companies interested in putting themselves forward for evaluation by the IAC can fill an expression of interest form found on the program website here. Companies will be selected in early 2021 for the first accelerator cohort.