Barclays Africa today announced the launch of its Tech Lab Africa accelerator programme aimed a startups in the health and fintech spaces.
The programme, which will bring in a crop of 10 startups, is just the latest example of a big financial institution trying to ramp up its efforts in the entrepreneurial space.
“In order to compete, Barclays Africa needs to connect, shape and scale with these new industry players. We are looking for big, fresh ideas that promise to shake things up – be this in the financial services industry, the health sector, or anywhere else,” says Ashley Veasey, Chief Information Officer for Barclays Africa.
“We are not limiting our applicants. Ideas must address or better yet solve existing challenges or create opportunities in uncharted territories. As long as the idea or venture thinks differently, we’ll consider it.”
The programme will be run for 13 weeks, hosted in Cape Town and finalists will face a judging panel that will choose the most interesting business propositions or ventures.
According to Barclays Africa, the final selected ventures will then be afforded access to prominent business mentors, industry leaders, influencers and experts. The intention is that the end results will boast a fresh portfolio of businesses that will change the face of the financial technology and digital health industry.
“The selected ventures will get access to support and mentorship from Barclays Africa executives and external experts and industry leaders,” says Veasey. “These enterprises will also be enabled through market days and roadshows to meet potential customers and investors, and may potentially get an opportunity to become a preferred supplier to Barclays Africa.”
Despite being based in Cape Town, the programme is open to application to startups from around Africa. That gives it a slightly more international edge than the Standard Bank accelerator launched earlier this year. That said, Standard Bank’s presence is more permanent. Also, unlike the R3-million investment FNB made in the Silicon Cape organisation last year, it’s difficult to put a monetary value on the Tech Lab Africa offering.
What is clear however is that all are attempts by big banks to position themselves as being friendlier toward entrepreneurs than they are traditionally perceived to be.
Applications opened on Monday, 20 July 2015. Interested applicants can visit the Tech Lab Africa site to find out more information about submitting their applications and tracking their progress.
Representatives of successful entrants must be able to stay in Cape Town for the duration of the 13-week programme (from 7 September to 10 December, 2015).