Mastercard’s Start Path Global Program Accelerates Search for Startups in Kenya

Whether it is to scale their business or drive profitability, startups are increasingly looking to collaborate with corporates to both tap into their operational expertise and to test new technology. Mastercard’s startup engagement program Start Path Global works with startups to drive new businesses forward and is launching a call for application for its 2016 class.

Start Path is an integral part of Mastercard’s broader startup engagement effort that is focused on partnering with the best startups to collaborate and create new experiences for its customers, business partners, and the broader financial industry.

Start Path was established in early 2014 as a way for Mastercard to work directly with global startups building innovative solutions covering everything from blockchain to artificial intelligence and chatbots. Over the last two years, Start Path has worked with over 90 companies across 24 countries. Mastercard is currently running active pilots with or has directly invested in nearly 20 percent of the companies.

“In 2014 Mastercard wanted to look beyond itself and support innovation that was being developed by new and upcoming, early-stage companies” said Chris Bwakira, Vice President & Area Business Head East Africa, “We believe every startup is unique, especially those within Africa where often the problems faced are entirely different to the rest of the globe.  Essentially there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to working together. We have put in place different mechanisms including pilots with Mastercard business lines, access to our APIs, and connectivity to our customer base and partner networks.”


Start Path will be intensifying its search in Kenya because of the vibrant startup community. The objective of the program is to stay close to innovations that are coming out of Kenya and to drive success for the early-stage companies that are working on next-generation commerce technologies. The six-month, virtual program will help startups from the region tackle business problems and introduce them to new opportunities around the globe.

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The startup community in Africa has been maturing steadily and the region has been churning out some interesting ideas and significant success stories.

In Africa, the program is working with startups creating practical, affordable innovations that help people gain access to financial tools such as loans, plan for their futures, build wealth and lead better lives.  Saida, NFrnds and Dopay are all working with Start Path to identify growth areas, partnership possibilities and integration plans within and beyond Mastercard.

Saida: Saida is a startup that has developed an app that uses the data on the customers’ smartphones to underwrite loans to them in minutes. The app just launched in Kenya and has been instrumental in providing over 16,000 loans in the area.

NFrnds: nFrnds connects 5 billion simple phone users who don’t have data plans to information, communication, and mobile payments.  Designed for emerging markets,the platform connects consumers and businesses to managed cloud services, bundling solutions for vertical ecosystems such as agriculture, health, banking, finance and horizontal services such as loyalty, CRM and supply chain management.

DoPay: With offices in London, Egypt and Ghana, DoPay is designed to be the ‘day-to-day’ bank in markets with largely unbanked and financially underserved populations. We provide a cloud-based payroll service that allows employers to calculate salaries and pay all employees electronically.

Apply Now:


Each quarter, Mastercard Start Path recruits a new class of startups to embark on the six-month virtual program. The program is currently accepting applications for its next class. The application window to join the next class is open until Thursday, October 11, 2016.

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To apply, visit: The program is open to all non-US based startups.

How to Apply to Start Path Global:

  1. Submit your application at by 5 pm GMT on Thursday, October 11, 2016
  2. Receive email confirmation of your application from the Start Path team
  • For some companies, the Start Path team will contact you for a call to further discuss your application.
  1. The Start Path team will invite 12 companies to a Pitch Day in Miami on November 30, 2016 and December 1, 2016
  • The Pitch Day is an opportunity not only to pitch for selection into the program, but also to meet with big-brand partners of the program.
  1. Between 5 and 7 companies will be provided with an offer to join the program.
  2. The program will kick off with an immersion week in January 2017.
  3.  Three information sessions will be held to walk interested groups through the application process:
    • Twitter Chat on Friday September 30th, 9.30am SGT (GMT+8) –follow @MAStartPath & #StartPathGlobal for a Twitter Q&A and chat with existing startups on the program


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