Catalyst Fund announces 6 startups from Kenya, Nigeria & SA for its £80,000 Inclusive Fintech Program


Inclusive tech accelerator Catalyst Fund has announced six startups joining the 8th cohort of its Inclusive Fintech Program.

The six new startups include Kenya’s Koa, Lami, Power; Nigeria’s Indicina, Jetstream; and South Africa’s Kandua and will join Catalyst Fund’s existing portfolio of 37 companies and receive £80,000 in grant capital.

According to Maelis Carraro, Catalyst Fund Managing Director, “We’re particularly excited about the solutions put forward by this innovative cohort of companies, many of whom are led or co-led by incredible women leaders. They have the potential to really expand the reach of digital financial services by testing new business models and by building the tech infrastructure layers needed to embed financial products in other services.”

Launched in 2015, with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Catalyst Fund, managed by BFA Global, supports inclusive fintech innovators in emerging markets. Its focus markets include Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico and India.

The startups were sourced and approved by Catalyst Fund’s Investor Advisory Committee (IAC) which comprise of experienced fintech and emerging markets investors, including: Anthemis, Quona Capital, Better Tomorrow Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Accion Venture Lab and Gray Ghost Ventures.

Last year, Catalyst Fund announced $15 million in additional funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co., to accelerate 30 new inclusive fintech startups by 2022.

With today’s announcement, Catalyst Fund has accelerated 43 portfolio companies that have gone on to raise more than $122M in follow-on funding and reach over 5 million low-income customers.

In November 2020, Catalyst Fund announced the launch of its first expansion program, the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, with support from the Mastercard Foundation, to improve the livelihoods of MSEs in Ghana by accelerating companies that can help them better leverage digital commerce.

“Having access to critical fintech tools in the services they use and solutions to better manage their financial lives can be life-changing for people in low- and middle-income communities – many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 – across emerging markets,” said Miriam Freeman, Global Philanthropy Program Officer, JPMorgan Chase. “Sound financial health is key to building resilient communities and increasing access to economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs globally.”

Fintech today is becoming increasingly modularized and embedded into adjacent sectors, as non-finance companies add financial services to their offerings to enhance their value propositions. As Andreessen Horowitz’s Angela Strange claims, soon “every company will be a fintech company”. International investors like Anthemis see the potential in this trend, making embedded finance a core investment thesis.

For example, Lami’s API enables existing platform businesses and banking services to instantly offer user-friendly insurance products tailored to the needs of their customers. Indicina’s digital lending infrastructure and credit underwriting model are changing the face of retail banking. Koa is enabling users of tech solutions across sectors to more easily save money and gain control over their finances. Power combines a suite of services to improve low-income workers’ financial health and enable them to save, spend, plan, and pay at the touch of a button. 

Kim Bromley, Head of Financial Services at FCDO, said: “Only 30 percent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world are owned and run by women. We are excited to support this predominantly women-led fintech cohort and look forward to seeing their innovations scale to support the most vulnerable people.”

Only 11% of seed funding capital in emerging markets goes to companies with a woman on their founding team. To help address the financing gap, this cohort features five startups with female founders and co-founders.

Read more about the Catalyst Fund 8th inclusive fintech cohort:

  • Lami, providing an insurance platform and API that enables more individuals and businesses to access insurance coverage in Kenya
  • Koa, enabling users of existing tech solutions to more easily save and invest, gaining control over their finances, in Kenya
  • Power, enabling gig and salaried workers to easily access earned wages, loans, insurance, payments and contribute to savings via partner banks, to reduce financial stress in Kenya
  • Indicina, facilitating lending for individuals and small businesses through AI-powered digital credit infrastructure and credit underwriting services in Nigeria 
  • Jetstream, enabling businesses to efficiently and affordably export goods across borders and access trade financing in Nigeria and Ghana
  • Kandua, empowering skilled home service professionals with greater access to customers, professional tools and digital financial services, in South Africa.