Catalyst Fund selects three African fintech startups for accelerator programme


Three African tech startups have been selected to take part in global inclusive fintech accelerator the Catalyst Fund‘s latest cohort.

The three African firms are Nigeria’s WellaHealth and Flex Finance, as well as South Africa’s Paymenow.

They are part of a cohort of six startups which will each receive £80 000 in grant capital as well as bespoke and expert-led venture building support for six months.

Paymenow, which was founded last year by former Springbok rugby player Bryan Habana and Deon Nobrega, announced earlier this week that it had netted R4-million in investment (see this story).

The accelerator, which is managed by BFA Global, was founded in 2016 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. It is also supported by UK aid and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Nigeria’s WellaHealth and Flex Finance, as well as South Africa’s Paymenow have been selected for the Catalyst Fund’s accelerator

WellaHealth’s platform offers affordable healthcare coverage to protect families from the financial shock that comes from unexpected health emergencies, including hospital cash during Covid-19.

This, while Flex Finance’s financial management tool that enables micro- and small businesses to digitise operations and establish a digital footprint that can enable them to improve operations, operate digitally, and become eligible for credit lines and other financial services.

Paymenow is a financial wellness app that allows low-income workers to access part of their earned wages before payday, providing access to much-needed liquidity while empowering them to avoid the costs and dangers of debt.

The six companies — which also include two startups from Mexico (Mango Life, Graviti) and an Indian startup (KarmaLife) — join Catalyst Fund’s existing portfolio of 31 companies.

Catalyst Fund director Maelis Carraro said in a statement yesterday that the current pandemic and crisis present an opportunity to use technology to help low-income consumers and small businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Commenting in a statement on the startup’s inclusion, Habana said: “The unencumbered grant funding assists us in the short term to expand our team as we look to hire an experienced client success manager to help with sales and account management.

“More importantly,” he said, “it gives Paymenow the validation we so vehemently defend as it pertains to our “business for good” ethos.

When it comes to the three remaining startups, Mexico’s Mango Life is a digital insurance platform offering affordable and accessible health and life insurance plans for underserved individuals.

This, while Mexico-based Graviti offers a pay-as-you-go service which provides unbanked families access to sustainable household infrastructure appliances via affordable financing, so they can save money on essential services, stabilise earnings, and begin to rebuild after the Covid-19 crisis.

Finally, KarmaLife is an India-based financial services suite enabling India’s growing population of gig and essential services workers to smooth uneven cash flows, stabilise incomes and access savings and insurance

Each startup in the cohort was sourced and approved by the Catalyst Fund’s Investor Advisory Committee (IAC), comprising experienced fintech and emerging markets investors, including: Anthemis, Quona Capital, 500 Startups, Flourish Ventures, Accion Venture Lab and Gray Ghost Ventures.

Read more: Catalyst Fund selects three Africa-focused fintech startups for accelerator programme

Featured image: BFA via Vimeo



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