African startups in China highlight growth of two-way ties

China-Africa business ties are increasingly being built on two-way ideas combining the best of both sides, with a growing number of China-based African entrepreneurs striving to turn their startup ideas into reality.

While Chinese investment in African infrastructure has long been reported on, the effects of cultural exchanges, foreign study placements and closer business ties are cultivating a new generation of young African entrepreneurs.

The recent Africa Week – a series of events in Beijing focusing on African culture, tech and business -– concluded with a pitch competition that saw young African entrepreneurs look to win 30,000 yuan (4,680 US dollars) in startup funding.

The five competing entrepreneurs came from across the continent, pitching ideas ranging from green technology to African jewelry design.

One factor that they all shared was a connection to China. Most were postgraduate students, using their experiences of living in the country to identify niche markets linking Africa and China, or business concepts that could be established in China before being exported back to the continent.

President of Shanghai-based Russell Investments Brian Ingram was on the board of judges, and set the tone for the event in his opening comments by referring to so-called exploitation within the China-Africa relationship, telling competitors it was their “job to exploit back” by valuing and utilizing the networks they built in China.

50,000 Africans were studying in China in 2015, more than the US and the UK. At the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China pledged to offer 30,000 scholarships to African students by the end of 2018.

The business ideas on show included a smartphone-based gamified recycling system, born from a desire to tackle litter left on Chinese university campuses, and a tourism company that set out to challenge stereotypes about Africa through VR technology, combining local on-the-ground knowledge with cheap Chinese tech to tap into one of the world’s biggest source of tourists.

One pitch, offering business services to African small and medium enterprises highlighted the huge untapped potential of SMEs on the continent. When asked how his company would compete with similar services being provided by China’s Alibaba, Aminu Ibrahim Hashim replied that local knowledge was always essential, saying “for African business, you need Africans.”

The African startup scene attracted 129 million US dollars’ worth of investment in 2016. While only a small amount compared to other regions, the startup sector is growing rapidly despite being largely ignored by Silicon Valley, according to Techcrunch.

While there was general agreement that without local knowledge major Chinese companies would struggle to succeed in Africa, it was clear that China’s mass adoption of mobile technology in recent years has been an inspiration, showing entrepreneurs how mobile payments, Fintech, gamification and e-commerce could be the spark for new business ideas.

Judges were ultimately won over by a pitch for expanding Nani’s Creations, a small-scale jewelry manufacturer with African designs, using materials sourced from Africa and sold in China.

Impressed by Ghanaian designer Yaa Anima Opare Appiah, the judges pointed to how she combined traditional African designs with a clear set of goals for doing business in China –utilizing e-commerce, obtaining a business license to set up shop in Beijing and spreading her product through word of mouth and social media.

 

N-Hance Wood Refinishing Franchise Announces Master Franchise Agreement in South Africa

N-Hance Wood Refinishing has signed a Master Franchise agreement with South African entrepreneur Julian Peters, continuing an aggressive expansion that has produced continued growth in multiple international markets — alongside a thriving U.S. presence that now numbers more than 500 locations.

N-Hance Wood Refinishing is an innovative, affordable cabinet, floor and furniture refinishing service that offers wood refinishing without the inconvenience associated with traditional means, while also providing a much higher-quality and durable finish than painting methods..

N-Hance is seeking Master Franchise owners who want to bring this successful American brand to their country. Master Franchise owners obtain the franchising rights to an entire region or country and have the right to develop as many franchise locations as they can in that region. In South Africa, that will immediately take the form of a head office in the Johannesburg area to oversee six or seven sub-franchises that will come online during the first year of operations, Peters said.

“We want to start close to home, so we can control the initial outgrowth and make sure our training and processes are sound,” he explained. “From there, we will begin to look at other provinces, where we would create a head office and sub-franchise model as well.”

Peters considered many concepts as he looked to grow his business holdings. N-Hance caught his eye because of friends and family members in the building and remodeling industry — and the problems they had with wood floors and cabinetry.

“Their main complaint is how difficult it is to refinish those due to poor workmanship and the lack of skilled labor,” Peters said. “When I began studying what N-Hance offers, I saw that they had solved the issue with very high-quality services, good products and innovations that got the job done professionally and quickly. I was also very pleased to see that granite was included, because granite renewal and restoration is a very big issue in South Africa.”

“We are very excited about entering the South African market and look forward to great results for Julian and his team,” said Joe Manuszak, Vice President of International Development. “N-Hance continues to prove itself in markets around the world, thanks to a Master Franchise model that connects those entrepreneurs with home and business owners who are looking to renovate without the expense of replacing their wood cabinets and surfaces. This creates opportunities for local business ownership.”

For Peters, N-Hance will connect a valued service with a strong need, enabling him to build business quickly and efficiently in multiple markets.

“What N-Hance offers is very much what is needed in South Africa at present,” he said. “This is a perfect opportunity to do something meaningful, provide a service that is required and give an opportunity to people who want to own a business as well as those who want to learn a new skill and work for a business that has strong growth potential.”

VC4A and African Business Angel Network (ABAN) announce 2018 Africa Early Stage Investor Summit to kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week in Cape Town

Africa’s early stage investor community will convene on November 11th and 12th, 2018 for the 5th Africa Early Stage Investor Summit (#AESIS2018). This exclusive investor-only event unites key ecosystem stakeholders from across the continent and beyond, to exchange best practices, learn from peers and recent transactions, and do deals. For the second consecutive year, the Summit will be hosted at Workshop17 in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.

This year, the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit is set to kick off Cape Town’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, encompassing a number of leading industry events and numerous networking opportunities. The Summit organizers Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A) (https://VC4A.com) and the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) (https://ABANangels.org) have partnered with AfricaCom (https://goo.gl/TcU3jh) and AfricArena (http://AfricArena2018.com) to offer a full-week VIP Investor Pass giving access to all three events as well as Investor Cocktail, Industry Leaders Dinner and an Innovation Tour.

The Summit’s speakers and guests represent the leading angel networks, VC funds, impact investors, accelerators, corporate venture divisions, industry associations, and public sector agencies. Headlining the Summit are renown international and local investors from Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, France, US, UK and The Netherlands, amongst many other countries.

The 2017 edition brought together over 300 investors from prominent African angel networks and VC funds, such as Singularity Investments, Accion, Blue Haven, 4Di Capital, Lagos Angel Network, SABAN, AngelHub Ventures, Teranga Capital, Outlierz, Algebra Ventures, Grey Elephant Ventures, Ringier, GSMA, Orange Digital Ventures. Among the attendees were international organizations and policy makers, such as IFC, the World Bank Group and the European Commission. Following a rigorous due diligence process, the event showcased 20 African digitally-enabled scale-ups from across the continent, resulting in a number of series A deals totaling over $12mln. The 5th anniversary event promises to further raise the bar, featuring renowned investors from overseas and stellar entrepreneurial talent from the continent.

Industry leaders explain the reasons they participate in this annual conference:

“The Africa Early Stage Investor Summit brings together a diverse network of people with a common interest of starting and building sustainable companies that solve real problems on the continent. The status of the partners on board and profiles of the speakers ensure that the event is thought provoking, educational and fun!” says Keet van Zyl, Partner at Knife Capital.

“I found the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit to be a great opportunity to network and learn from other investors from around the continent. The sessions were useful and provided great pan-African perspective of the investment landscape. I will highly recommend it” comments Kola Aina, CEO and Founder of Ventures Platform.

Ido Sum, Partner at TLCom Capital, comments further: “Being a regular participant in many such conferences, it was a unique collection of very high quality companies as well as the early stage tech focused African investors community. This intersection of top notch investors and founders led to a few great relationships and investment opportunities we looked in more depth into. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the space to take part in the 2018 summit.”

Not only the pool of entrepreneurial talent across the continent is growing, but also the quality of ventures is improving. The pipeline of African innovative businesses has never been so investible. And where talent leads the way, money closely follows. More than 60 angel networks have been set up across the continent and a growing class of Africa-focused VC investors are backing and scaling the best of these high-growth startups. VC4A and ABAN co-host the Summit, specifically to create an annual meeting point for this growing investor community.

As in the previous years, the participants can expect a highly focused yet varied program consisting of workshops and masterclasses for investors by investors, rich networking experience, exclusive co-investment opportunities, as well as the latest trends, insights and industry research.

For more information and tickets please visit www.AfricaInvestorSummit.com. For partnership and sponsorship opportunities, please contact the organizers at team [at] www.AfricaInvestorSummit.com.

How Nigerian Entrepreneur Fareed Arogundade Is Building Workstation Into The WeWork Of Africa

With this expansion, millennial are swiftly capturing the market by influencing production and consumption. Not also forgetting the young entrepreneurs building start-ups and creating thriving tech ecosystems in Africa, from Morocco, Kenya, South Africa, to Nigeria. Indeed, Africa is becoming the rising star of the technology world.

To support Africa’s fastest growing population of budding entrepreneurs, virtual workers and freelancers, a technology or innovation hub needs co-working spaces to create support for these start-ups. Co-working spaces offer a new approach for like-minded individuals to learn, build valuable networks, thrive, and create a sense of community.

Fareed Arogundade is the founder of WorkStation, a coworking space that supports businesses in Nigeria. In three years, the WorkStation team have leveraged on the power of collaboration, community and partnership to grow their membership to over 2,000 businesses with plans to expand to Abuja, Port Harcourt and Accra.

Fareed recently opened up about his early beginnings, the growth of WorkStation, challenges as a startup in Nigeria, and future plans for expansion.

Tell us about your personal and professional background.

My state of origin is Osun State, Nigeria which is where my dad is from, but I was born and raised in Lagos. After graduating from secondary school, I relocated to Washington DC to study Finance at Howard University’s School of Business. Although I enjoyed my time in the states and learned a lot about myself personally and professionally, one thing was certain: I wanted to get back to Nigeria.

 

My ultimate goal has always been to make a social impact in Nigeria and across Africa. It’s important for me to give back to the place I’ve always called home. After graduating from Howard, I stayed in the US for about a year and worked with Austin Capital Partners. While there, I hatched a plan to set up an out-of-home advertising company in Nigeria.

After writing a business plan, I was able to raise the funds I needed through family and friends and I moved back to set up Twenty-One Media Limited. We operated our advertising business in Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria. My curious mind was set on exploring the energy and real estate sectors in Nigeria, so I brought on partners in 2006 and transitioned away from my operational role in Twenty-One Media to focus on this new venture. One thing about me is that I’m full of ideas and once I lock in on a concept, there’s nothing that can stop me from executing it.

In 2009, I went into the downstream energy sector and set up my own trading arm through Vanguard Pacific Limited. Eventually, I was asked to join the team at Danium Energy Limited, a larger downstream trading company with offices in Lagos and a tank farm in Oron, Akwa Ibom State. In 2012, I was asked by the directors of BT Power Limited to serve as a Business Development Executive on the Ikot Abasi Power Project, where to date I still serve in some capacity.

An opportunity to get into the real estate sector presented itself in 2014 when I partnered with two friends to restructure a company called Midland Resources Limited, where we focused on residential real estate development in Lagos and Abuja. I have since transitioned away from all operational roles in Midland and only serve as a director in an advisory capacity.

From there, I started developing the concept to create a tech-enabled, shared office space, which is how the set-up of Workstation came about in April 2016. It’s been my main focus since then.

What was the original inspiration/thought process behind Workstation? What led to this decision, and how is your target market responding to this change?

In 2015, I needed an office for the upstream energy venture I was developing. I didn’t need a whole building or office to myself, so I thought about setting up virtual offices. Several conversations with some of my colleagues who understood complex business sectors gave me good insight on this idea. During a conversation with my brother, I mentioned the plan I had for the virtual offices and he suggested I look into what global brands like WeWork and Cove were doing. We thought through it and hatched a plan to create a tech-enabled, shared office space in the Nigerian market.

It’s been an interesting three-year journey where a lot of lessons have been learned, leading me in the right direction of perfecting our model. I’ll always continue to accept feedback and improve our operations because in everything in life, you should always want to learn. Overall, we’ve received great feedback and continue to strive to deliver the best quality service to our members.

 

We started operations in April 2016 and have been able to sign up over 2,000 businesses and individual members onto our digital platform that gives them access to our physical locations on-demand. Considering our membership is growing daily, I think we are on the right path.

Co-working is still a growing concept in Nigeria. How do you market co-working and the Workstation brand?

It’s a concept that’s growing pretty fast. In 2013 there were about 25 — now there’s over 250 coworking spaces which shows that Nigeria is catching on to the value of coworking. Workstation’s growth has been organic: referrals, word of mouth and social media. Most of our marketing material highlights the four major benefits (because there are a lot of benefits!) of coworking: infrastructure, collaboration, flexibility and affordability.

The most important aspect of being a Workstation member is the community. We welcome and support all industries. We constantly market that we are a tech-enabled space, but not a space just for the tech industry. That’s really important. We stay true to our brand in all we do — from maintaining a black, white and yellow color scheme in all our design work to always keeping our facility clean and neat, we’re Workstation through and through. Many individuals and businesses tend to work in silos, which limits creativity and innovation potential. All our key marketing tools focus on collaboration, the benefits of being part of a shared economy, and an overall sense of togetherness when you join our community.

 

The SaaS African automotive marketplace available in 40 countries and 15 different local languages

After raising an undisclosed 6 digits US dollars amount in 2018, from international investors, Africar Group has almost finished its expansion in Africa, with platforms in 40 different countries, is monetising and improving its business model.

With 10 new platforms launched ( Liberia , Mauritania , Comoros , Mauritius , Nigeria , Djibouti , Sudan , Republic of Congo , Central African Republic and Angola ), Africar Group is by far the largest operator of automotive marketplaces in Sub Saharan Africa. Its platforms are available in more than 15 different local languages, going far more than just English, French and Arabic, with local languages such as Swahili, Amharic, Somali, Wolof, Yoruba, Hausa, Kinyarwanda, Oromo, Igbo and more.

More than just offering a car classifieds or marketplaces model, Africar Group is now beta testing its new version with a full SaaS platform aimed to better service local cars, trucks, bikes and spare parts sellers, ranging from individuals to semi professionals and professionals. Users are now able to manage their business online, including their inventory, as well as managing their leads, coming from various channels (websites, social medias, messaging apps and offline marketing campaigns. It will offer many paying services such as SMS campaigns and more.

Africar Group is also offering for its visitors, potential car, truck and bike buyers, in partnership with local companies, insurance and financing options, in order to complete the whole customer journey. Africar Group has generated amongst the best qualified leads for some insurance companies in Africa in terms of conversion rate.

MTFC launches Innov8Agric Challenge to promote Innovation in Agric Entrepreneurship

MTFC launches Innov8Agric Challenge to promote Innovation in Agric Entrepreneurship

Applications are now open for the maiden edition of MTFC Innov8Agric Challenge.

The innovation challenge which is a key event at this year’s edition of Meet The Farmer’s Conference will host young farmers, agripreneurs, and Innovators in the Agric Value Chain to compete for the grand Prize of USD5,000, an all expense paid trip to Dubai for the Grand Finale, access to follow-on funding amongst other business opportunities.

Organized by Crenov8, the challenge is aimed at promoting innovative ideas for early stage Agric entrepreneurs from all sectors of the agriculture ecosystem who are applying creative and innovative methods to improve the agriculture value chain.

Interested entrepreneurs can apply via: http://mtf.crenov8.com/innov8agric.  The selection team made up of successful entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders will be selecting the best ideas based on innovativeness, originality and viability of the idea. Deadline for the application is 30th June, 2018.

The regional finale will hold during the Meet the Farmers Conference in 4 African cities – Accra Ghana on 4th July, Nairobi Kenya on 2nd August, Kigali Rwanda on 5th September, Abuja Nigeria on 4th October while the Grand Finale will hold on 4th November 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Selected businesses will have the opportunity to exhibit and participate in the regional satellite conferences. Winners will emerge from each region and then go on an All-expense paid to Dubai to participate and exhibit in the MTFC grand finale and pitch for the top prize of USD5,000 as well as follow-on funding and investment opportunities. They will also have access to a high worth pool of investors and potential customers at the conference.

Innov8 Agric Challenge is an initiative of the Agri Value Chain Development Conference,Meet The Farmers Conference (MTFC)which will hold across four African Countries and in Dubai, UAE with the focus on The Future of Agribusiness.

Register to participate in the conference via http://mtfc.crenov8.com

Investors Give Piggybank Mobile App Savings Platform USD1.1m

Owners of an online and mobile app savings platform targeted at African Millennials, Piggybank.ng, have announced closing seed funding of $1.1 million from high net worth individuals led by founder of LeadPath Nigeria, Mr Olumide Soyombo, with participation from international and pan-African investors Village Capital and Ventures Platform.

In a statement made available yesterday, the Nigerian start-up company said it would deploy the VC investment for license acquisition and product development.

Piggybank.ng has recorded 20-35 percent month-on-month growth in user traction over the past 12 months; primarily from peer-to-peer recommendations, its referral program – Piggybank Stories, and grass-roots social media campaigns.

The start-up plans to also invest in additional marketing spend to accelerate its growth trajectory.

Having completed accelerator programs with Blackbox, the CcHub’s Pitch Drive, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, and Google Launchpad Africa, Piggybank.ng has built a savings community of over 53,000 registered users of which approximately 60 percent are Nigerian Millennials, who have saved in excess of $5 million, with a savings growth of 3000 percent between 2016-17.

Founded in 2016 by Somto Ifezue, Odunayo Eweniyi and Joshua Chibueze, graduates of Covenant University, Nigeria, Piggybank.ng is positioned to fill a void for tens of millions of Nigerians, who have no access to credit, in a country where up to two years’ rent is often required upfront to secure a home.

Targeting low-middle income savers in Nigeria, of which there are 26.5 million with a market size of $2.2 billion, the fintech start-up is an automated savings platform where savers manage their finances by depositing small amounts of money [starting from as little as $1/day] on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, depending on their saving target, free of charge.

Savers can expect to earn on average 6 percent per annum on automated savings or 10.95 percent per annum on the fixed deposit product, Safelock and can withdraw funds once per quarter.

Piggybank.ng generates its revenues through asset management, which currently stands at 5-7 percent.

According to Odunayo Eweniyi, co-founder and COO of Piggybank.ng, “In a country such as Nigeria, almost everything has to be paid in advance. The majority of Nigerians struggle to save their income, manage cash flow and build credit, which is a huge problem as around 80 percent of Nigerians need to save a minimum of 40 percent of their monthly income, in order to survive.

“This is the sheer scale of the challenge we are embracing; to actively promote a savings culture in Nigeria and act as the savings infrastructure to millions of people who want a safe, transparent and innovative platform to assist them in managing their finances, on their journeys to financial freedom.”

Also commenting, Joshua Chibueze, co-founder and CMO of Piggybank said, “Today’s (Thursday) announcement allows us to expand and capitalise on the many opportunities that the market presents us with.

“Our growth so far has been stimulated almost entirely by peer-to-peer advocacy and our investment in the highest quality customer service, so we know the market is there, and the product has been built, modified, tested and ratified by users.

“With this fundraise, we can invest significantly in our people and products, as we build a digital financial warehouse accessible to millions of Africans whose savings woes we want to put firmly behind them.”

MultiChoice moves to deepen Nigeria’s film industry

Nigeria’s entertainment industry which contributed 2.3 percent (about N239biliion) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016 is receiving further lift from MultiChoice Africa. The video entertainment services provider said it is investing in Talent Factory aimed at igniting and growing the industry into vibrant, economic centre.

The MultiChoice Talent Factory will involve academies and Masterclasses. The academy is a 12-month educational programme aimed at furnishing 20 deserving, young, talented Nigerians who want to work and innovate in film and television production. The applicants who must be below 25 years must demonstrate passion for any aspect of the industry. Those who are slightly above 25 years but have strong passion may be considered.

While Nigerian talent factory will also draw students from other West African countries, the factory will also be established in Kenya and Zambia with 20 students each for those regions, making a total of 60 students across Africa.

MultiChoice said that the MTF Academy students will be provided with skillsets to develop their talent, connect with industry professionals and tell authentic African stories through a comprehensive curriculum comprising theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production and storytelling.

The programme will be overseen by acclaimed local film & TV industry experts, Academy Directors:  Njoki Muhoho in the Eastern Hub; Femi Odugbemi in the Western Hub and Berry Lwando in the Southern Hub.

The idea of the programme is to develop talents to produce quality and international standard films and tell African narratives. In Nigeria, MultiChoice is partnering with Pan Atlantic University to deliver content and ensure the success of the programme.

“The African development story has long been defined by investment in the vast mineral wealth on the continent, leaving our creative industries to fend for themselves on the fringes of economic development for far too long. As a result, the film and television industries have not developed at the same rate as other industries on the continent, and not for a lack of talent, passion or imagination,” says John Ugbe, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria.

“We are abundantly blessed in these areas, however, the space given for this expression has at best been limited and at worst, been relegated to the fringes of the mainstream economy, leaving in its wake, unfulfilled dreams, unexplored talent and unwritten stories. As an African business, MultiChoice, together with our valued partners and stakeholders across the continent, have collaborated to make a positive socio-economic impact in the communities in which we live and work through the MultiChoice Talent Factory initiative.”

He further states, “There is no better time than now; this being MultiChoice’s 25th year of operations in Nigeria, for a project of this scope to concretize what we stand for as an organisation, as it lays a foundation that will foster economic growth for tomorrow’s leaders, and by extension our continent.

“Professional training is key to success in any occupation. We need interventions like the MTF so that emerging filmmakers are better equipped in the creative processes that has scholarship and technology at its foundation,” says Femi Odugbemi, MTF Academy Director for West Africa. He adds: “We must consciously build capacity so that our next-generation filmmakers and producers can also create wealth and create employment by being entrepreneurs as well.”

Solidarity Bank launches new “BTS Leasing” product in Tunisia

The Tunisian Solidarity Bank (BTS) said that it has just put on the market a new product called “BTS Leasing”.

It is aimed at young entrepreneurs with professional skills as well as graduates of higher education, vocational training or professionals working in the field of passenger transport, ilboursa reported.

Developed to meet the needs and expectations of entrepreneurs looking for a financial product for the accomplishment of their projects, the product “BTS Leasing” does not require real guarantees, besides simplified financing procedures.

“BTS Leasing” offers suitable financing with a repayment term of 5 years with a 3-month deductible, a monthly repayment period and an own contribution of 5 to 20%.

At the end of the term, the contractor becomes the owner of his property.

Finnovation Kenya 2018: Collaboration way forward to driving constructive economic outcomes from the FinTech ecosystem in Africa

Finnovation Kenya 2018 summit kicked off today at the Radisson Blu Nairobi, bringing together more than 200 FinTech experts to discuss about the future of fintech in Africa. The experts also included African pioneers, investors, entrepreneurs and leading bankers to also discuss how the FinTech revolution can boost strategic economic priorities such as financial inclusion and deepening – and how it can make a positive and profitable difference in Africa.

The event also explored how the major banks and financial institutions on the continent are addressing the digital transformation of financial services; and how their own digital innovations are being shaped and accelerated as a result of the gathering momentum of FinTech disruptors.

The impact of Blockchain, Open Banking, Mobile Money and Payments innovation are radically transforming the financial services landscape as FinTech disruptors intensify the challenge to incumbent banks in Africa and kickstart new opportunities. The unique environment for financial services in Africa is fertile ground for innovative FinTech players who are capitalizing on the opportunities to disrupt or leapfrog established business models to make financial services more affordable, accessible and profitable across the continent.

Keynote speakers for the Finnovation Kenya 2018 event include Paul Muthaura, CEO of Capital Markets Authority Kenya; Dave Van Niekerk, Founder and Executive Chairman of MyBucks; Aaron Fu, Managing Partner, MEST; Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Kenya Ltd; and Declan Magero, Founding Partner, Afrinet Capital. The opening keynote session will define directions on Aligning the Role of Government Policymakers, Banks, FinTech Innovators, Investors, Multilateral Agencies, MNOs and the Private Sector to Advance the FinTech Ecosystem in Africa.

Speaking ahead of his participation in Finnovation Kenya 2018, Dave Van Niekerk, CEO of MyBucks, said “The global microfinance, retail banking and credit landscape has long required a revolution and this rapid and dramatic change, with financial inclusion at its heart, is already well underway. FinTech innovations are enabling the distribution of financial products at competitive pricing, providing the basis to rapidly scale-up as well as effectively manage credit risk. Incumbent financial institutions will eventually be forced to embrace this technology to acquire clients, determine risk and retain clients, effectively closing the divide between FinTech and traditional finance organizations. The Finnovation Kenya 2018 event will create a powerful platform for start-ups and trail-blazers, to understand the broader ecosystem as well as for incumbent Financial powerhouses from across Africa to engage and learn from each other.”

Paul Muthaura, CEO of Capital Markets Authority Kenya Ltd, said Kenya has rapidly become an internationally recognized pace-setter for FinTech innovation as global players increasingly look to learn lessons especially in areas where the country has built world-class capabilities such as in mobile money.  ‘’We have built a supporting infrastructure and are strengthening our regulatory framework to foster FinTech innovation and drive capital market activity to the next level. The Authority is at an advanced stage of implementing a Regulatory Sandbox to provide a safe space for innovative ideas to transition into the regulated environment. Across emerging markets, and particularly in Africa where there is an absence of the legacy infrastructure found in most developed economies, Fintech presents a transformational opportunity to leapfrog traditional costs and time delays in rolling out world class financial services infrastructure, products, services and distributions channels. The pioneers and experts gathering at Finnovation Kenya 2018 will provide critical insights on this exciting journey.” he said

Paul Mitchell, Fintech and Blockchain Lead of PwC South Africa, reinforced that on the other hand said South African financial services players, old and new, are uniquely positioned on a high growth continent to seize the opportunities to create innovative solutions and harness the impact of FinTech in Africa, which could well make a more significant contribution and impact than what we are currently seeing in the US and Europe. ‘’’Customers’ behaviour, and their expectations around how financial services companies traditionally interact with them, is changing rapidly. FinTech is accelerating these changes and the established players who recognise this are having to learn fast. This is leading to a reassessment of many elements of the customer experience and engagement process that will play out over the next few years. I look forward to participating in Finnovation South Africa 2018 and engaging with Fintech pioneers and thought leaders to address the most pressing questions for the digital transformation of financial services in South Africa.”

Another major highlight of Finnovation Kenya 2018 was the Leader’s Dialogue Live! in conversation with An African FinTech Pioneer session which presented a unique opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and first-hand insights in conversation with an African FinTech Pioneer. The live interview session featured renowned industry leader Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Kenya Ltd, who stressed the innovative potential of financial technology in Africa: “The FinTech sector is driving disruptive innovation and transforming the financial services landscape across the continent. We firmly believe that the rapid growth in the application of financial technology is providing a platform to enable payments and increase access, helping the drive to digital financial services.” This high-profile session was moderated by well-known media personality, Colin Don Schouw, Managing Director of the Fixer Group in South Africa.

In-depth sessions continued throughout the day featuring bankers and FinTech pioneers deliberating on key issues such as Blockchain – from Hype to Reality in Africa; Collaborate2Accelerate; Finclusion; and Silicon Savannah Kenya. High-profile speakers included Tamara Cook, Head of Digital Innovations at FSD Kenya; Ryno Rijnsburger, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft4Africa; Sunny Walia, General Manager- East Africa at VISA; and Russell Akuom, Head of Digital Banking Experience of Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

The post-lunch sessions at Finnovation Kenya 2018 were focused on identifying and engaging exciting new African FinTech entrepreneurs. The Silicon Savannah Kenya showcased the exciting innovations currently happening in Kenya, including trail-blazers such as Pezesha, Musoni System, Bonyo Mwongela & Co. Advocates, Asoko Insight and Make-IT in Africa.

The day concluded with the much-anticipated Wolves’ Den session, which again lived up to its billing as a powerful and ruthless session that enabled innovative FinTech start-ups and trail-blazers to real-time test the positive impact of their solutions with a panel representing savvy Investors/Venture Capitalists and seasoned African Fintech Pioneers. FinTech trail-blazers Grass Roots Bima, Tozza Plus, Flexpay, and Microcap all made their respective pitches while the “Wolves” asked the tough questions and provided the illuminating insights during a dynamic closing session to the event.

Finnovation Kenya 2018 is part of the FinTech Africa Series which regularly gathers leading stakeholders and influencers in the African FinTech ecosystem, from start-ups to banking powerhouses, from the key markets across Africa and internationally.