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On 10 October, 11 contestants pitched their ideas and innovations. With only one minute to answer questions from judges, the startups needed to make an impression.
The panel of judges consisted of senior investment executive at Rand Merchant Investments, Dominique Collett; CEO of Merrill Lynch SA, Richard Gush; CEO of Royal Bafokeng Holdings, Albertina Kekana and principle partner at Identity Partners, Sonja Sebotsa.
The startups awarded R1-million each as a part of Merill Lynch’s B-BBEE spend are:
- E-factor – an online marketplace founded by Tito Mbatha for small and medium businesses to put their invoices up for sale to receive payment within 24 hours. All invoices are insured by reputable companies, according to E-Factor, investors can purchase invoices at a 3% discount to 30 days for example.
- Imafin – is a specialist payment and commercial firm driven to innovate traditional payment methods and is founded by Nivan Bilou.
- Invoiceworx – founded by Siya Ntutela and Mdu Thabete is an online platform which allows small businesses ease-of-use when applying for credit at various financial institutions.
- Stokfella – a digital platform for Stokvels and is founded by Tshepo Moloi and Ruddy Mukwamu.
At the end of the evening, judge Kekana felt that Heritage Capital Partners, a black female-owned firm which invests growth capital in small to medium-sized companies, deserved to receive funding as well. This prompted Royal Bafokeng Holdings to award them with R1-million, which brought the total amount of funding awarded on the evening to R5-million.
This marks a second successful pitching event for AlphaCode.
All five businesses have now also been made AlphaCode platinum members, which means they are entitled to office space as well as one-year of incubation with AlphaCode.
“The winning businesses were selected because of their ability to meet our judging criteria which included their pricing and revenue-generating models and how delivery and implementation would occur,” said Collett.
“South Africa has the potential to become a fintech centre of excellence as it has an incredibly advanced financial services infrastructure,” said Gush.
“This provides an empowering context for emerging fintech entrepreneurs and financial technology innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of different communities. Many of whom have previously had little access to safe and reliable financial services,” concluded Gush.