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Featured image: Wala co-founder Samer Saab accepting the prize for Wala at the OpenMic Africa Summit in Nairobi on 31 August (Legatum Center @ MIT via Twitter)

SA startup Wala wins $100k Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion

SA fintech Wala has clinched the $100 000 grand prize in the 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. The prize is run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship and the Mastercard Foundation.

The announcement was made last week Wednesday (29 August) during the Open Mic Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Wala pipped runners-up Kenyan startup Tulaa and Nigerian waste recycling and social benefit enterprise RecyclePoints, who each won $30 000.

In addition, as the Zambezi Prize winner, Wala also won the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) Africa Prize in the Financial Inclusion category. The startup will now join three other winners of the IIC Africa Prize, to represent the continent at the IIC global tournament which awards over $1-million in prizes.

By winning the Zambezi Prize, Wala also won the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge Africa Prize in the Financial Inclusion category

In all, 10 startups were tapped for the prize. The remaining seven finalists — Apollo Agriculture, Bidhaa Sasa, FarmDrive, Farmerline, LanteOTC, MaTontine and OZÉ — each won $5000.

In a statement made last week following the awards the Legatum Centre announced that an additional prize of $5000 will be awarded later this year to an African entrepreneur who has demonstrated great leadership in unifying Africa’s tech ecosystem. They did not reveal the date when that prize would be awarded.

All 10 finalists are set to attend the Zambezi bootcamp at the MIT campus during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala in Boston between 5 and 9 November.

Cape Town based Wala was founded in 2015 by CEO Tricia Martinez and COO Samer Saab. The fintech’s mobile financial platform uses blockchain technology to enable zero-fee, instant borderless micro-payments for consumers in emerging markets.

In addition, Wala users have access to a cryptocurrency wallet, transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance.

Read more: Here are the finalists of $100k Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion

Featured image: Wala co-founder Samer Saab accepting the prize for Wala at the OpenMic Africa Summit in Nairobi on 29 August (Legatum Center @ MIT via Twitter)


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