Hosted by the Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, the Zambezi Prize aims to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage startups promoting financial inclusion on the continent.
The prize rewards startups addressing any of the nine financial inclusion challenges covered by the contest: low financial literacy; limited access to financial institutions; low and unpredictable income; proof of identity; distrust in financial services; difficulty in meeting unforeseen shock; limited commercial viability; complex and costly partnership agreements; and limited financial infrastructure.
Ten African startups have been named finalists, and will join leaders and ecosystem players from MIT and from around Africa at the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit to be held in Nairobi on August 28 and 29; where the top three startups will be selected.
The Grand Prize Winner will be awarded US$100,000. Two runners-up will each receive US$30,000 while the seven remaining finalists will each receive US$5,000.
In addition, the top three startups will be invited to attend the Zambezi bootcamp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) on the MIT campus in Boston in November; and they will be fast-tracked to the IIC global grand prize with up to US$1 million available in funding for the winner.
Kenya is home to the highest number of finalists, with Apollo Agriculture, Bidhaa Sasa, FarmDrive, and Tulaa all making the list.
Ghana’s Farmerline and OZE are also among the finalists; as are South Africa’s LanteOTC and Wala.
The list is completed by Nigeria’s RecyclePoints, and Senegal’s MaTontine.
“The finalists demonstrated strong leadership and innovation in the way they are solving financial inclusion challenges. We also want to thank the hundreds of great startups that applied to this competition and shared with us their inspiring ventures, visions, and insights for advancing financial inclusion. We hope to keep them all engaged through our upcoming initiatives,” said Ali Diallo, global programmes manager of the MIT Legatum Centre.