Barclays Africa on Monday announced the launch of Rise, a physical and virtual startup incubator aimed at African startups in the financial services space.
According to the banking multinational, Rise aims to take advantage of technology solutions that are not reliant on physical infrastructure. This, it says, is particularly relevant in the African context. It provides developing markets with an opportunity to leapfrog ageing analogue infrastructure, deployed in most developed economies, and with it the capacity to solve some of Africa’s development challenges.
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“The financial services industry is undergoing a paradigm shift and new tech start-ups are challenging traditional business models,” says Ashley Veasey, Chief Information Officer of Barclays Africa. “This is possible, in principle, because advances in technology are enabling bright minds to develop solutions that compete with the best of those developed by big corporates. We aim to partner and collaborate at the forefront of this change.”
In addition to the connected digital network, Rise has physical innovation hubs in London, Manchester and New York, and is set to open one in Cape Town in December.
“With over 5 000 start-ups interacting through the Rise London and Manchester hubs in the first year alone, over 20 hackathons being hosted and over 130 companies having made use of the global sites,” the banking giant says, “Rise Cape Town is set to enable Africans to connect, co-create and scale the next big thing in financial services”.
“Rise is about connecting the world’s most active innovators to each other, to corporates and to resources and by expanding to another continent means we’re able to broaden this network further,” says Derek White, Barclays Chief Design and Digital Officer and architect of the global Rise programme.
“We’re unlocking the power of open innovation to co-create the future of financial services, which will ultimately benefit customers and clients across the globe,” added White.
The Cape Town hub will be home to a number of open innovation programmes and includes co-working facilities, an events space, and a bespoke setting for the Barclays Accelerator programme. Backed by TechStars, that accelerator takes the form a 13-week Mentor-driven programme.
Several Rise initiatives are already underway in Africa, namely the Tech Lab Africa programme and the Barclays Africa Supply Chain Challenge.
According to Barclays Africa, Rise offers innovators and entrepreneurs “unprecedented access to leading thinkers” at Barclays and to Techstars’ mentor and investor relationships across 14 locations. This latest Barclays Accelerator programme follows successful programmes in London and New York.
“The three-month intensive programme has been designed to accelerate new fintech businesses in delivering breakthrough products to market,” says Veasey. “What we’re offering companies is a seat within a best-in-class accelerator programme, which in turn affords access to data, technology and intensive mentoring from industry experts and key decision makers.”
The programme will culminate in a ‘Demo Day’ to an audience that comprises industry leaders, serial entrepreneurs, senior executives and corporate partners.
“We are excited to launch our third accelerator programme with Barclays which will provide new opportunities to companies interested in leveraging the Cape Town fintech community as well as the larger Barclays and Techstars ecosystems. Barclays has become a true innovation partner to Techstars and is deeply committed to spreading fintech innovation worldwide,” says David Brown, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Techstars.