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Why all fintech startups should consider joining a global innovation hub

Entrepreneurs in the fintech space have been shaking up the banking industry for a number of years and their impact continues to grow, making it imperative to collaborate with the startups that are helping to shape the future of financial services as we know it.

Stories of entrepreneurs who “cracked the code” in the basement and became overnight billionaires are plentiful, but in most cases, a great idea is only half the battle won. And in most cases, successful entrepreneurs have to invest time and money over long periods to get an idea off the ground and through to execution stage.

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Many make mistakes along the way because they haven’t had the benefit of learning from someone “who knows business”.

Barclays Africa Group, known as Absa in South Africa, launched Rise innovation hub in 2015 to get closer to entrepreneurs with great ideas that may help its customers, and to offer the support necessary to help grow and nurture entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.

The hub has facilitated an enabling community that provides support to entrepreneurs and which connects them with a network of industry leaders to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration in the pursuit of the next leap forward in technology-based financial services.

The Cape Town hub is one of seven Rise sites across the globe, enabling the local community to connect with like-minded people at other Rise communities in London, Manchester, New York, Mumbai, Tel Aviv and Vilnius (Lithuania).

“In setting up our first Rise centre in Africa, we wanted the same look and feel – so that, when you walk into New York, it feels like Cape Town and vice versa – but we also love the context and nuances that come with each co-working community,” says Camilla Swart, ecosystem manager at Rise.

“By global standards the fintech ecosystem in Cape Town is still burgeoning, but the talent and the innovation surfacing in the space is world class and in some cases steps ahead, which makes connecting the Cape Town site members with our sister sites mutually beneficial.”

More than just facilitating co-creation between Barclays and entrepreneurs, Rise is also building out co-creation as a service for clients by facilitating introductions and matchmaking between other large corporates and entrepreneurs, providing startups with a comprehensive networking experience.

An international community of the brightest fintech minds

Membership to the global Rise community includes access to a physical workspace with top-of- the-range facilities as well as to the wider network of experts able to help fast track entrepreneurs’ professional goals through mentorship, access to markets, learning and skills development opportunities.

In line with ensuring that members receive the full benefit of being part of an international network, there are a variety of membership options to meet different needs. Entrepreneurs can choose to become either a club or resident member, and both come with a variety of features and benefits.

The club membership comprises Wi-Fi, wide screen TVs with wireless connectivity, fresh fruit and coffee, access to meeting spaces and the auditorium, the opportunity to attend exclusive member events such as hackathons, seminars, founder stories and learning lunches where the latest trends such as artificial intelligent (AI) and blockchain are tackled.

In addition members can get guidance and advice from Rise mentors and the ability to access the other Rise workspaces all over the world. It comes with a monthly membership fee of R1500.

Becoming a resident member involves the club member benefits but also includes a dedicated desk, a private locker and use of the Rise address for mail and courier purposes. The monthly fee is R3400.

More than just a co-working space

Sensorit, an Internet of Things startup known for its digital meeting and brainstorming tool called Yellow, is one of the many startups that call Rise their home.

“What makes Rise unique is that it isn’t just a co-working space: it’s an enabling environment for fintech start-ups to meet change-makers and like-minded people who are open to sharing their knowledge, relevant experiences, and networks to help move you and your start-up to the next level by finding your product market-fit, among others,” says Aubrey Mnisi, CEO and founder at Sensorit.

“We have been able to explore our true capability, as well as take our innovative value proposition to market much faster with the help of the bank and Rise community.”

Another such example is 88 Business Collective, an accelerator programme aimed at emerging women entrepreneurs. What Antoinette Prophy, the founder and managing director, has noticed in her time as a member there, is the sense of community and collaboration.

“I am having discussions about blockchain and fintech on a level I never imagined and this makes our service offering to the 88 Business Collective deeply innovative and tech savvy,” says Prophy.

Rise Cape Town has engaged with more than 100 startups since opening its doors– and shows no signs of slowing down, with initiatives such as the 13-week mentorship-driven Barclays Accelerator programme, powered by Techstars, helping more of these bright young entrepreneurs to grow and accelerate their businesses.

Fintech startups that serve as catalysts of change by creating pioneering technology-based solutions and are looking to access the resources that will take those solutions to the next level can find out about membership options by either visiting the Rise hub or signing up to become a member on the website:

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