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Kenya: Visa Africa Accelerator demo day highlights innovative African fintech startups

Visa held the inaugural demo day for its Africa Fintech Accelerator program at the Sankara Hotel in Nairobi. The event highlighted innovations and pitches from fintech startups in the first cohort of the Visa Accelerator Program.

Launched in June 2023, the program aims to expand and support fintech startups in Africa by providing expertise, connections, technology, and investment funding. It is a 3-month bootcamp conducted in partnership with innovation firm Plug and Play.

The call for applications for the first-ever cohort attracted over 1,000 startups. Ultimately, 23 startups were selected to participate in the program. These startups hail from 9 countries, including Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Zambia, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Representing Kenya are startups such as Power, duqha, workpay, and Orda. Other startups include Eversend, Anchor, Chari, Afinity, and Agrocenta.

Among the attendees at the Visa Accelerator Program Demo Day in Nairobi were Andrew Torre, the Regional President for CEMEA at Visa, and Otto Williams, Senior Vice President, Head of Product, Partnerships, and Solutions at Visa CEMEA. Also present were startup representatives from the first cohort, including Stone Atwine of Eversend, Desola Orosami of Orda, Tenu Awoonor of The Blue Penguin, and Francis Obrikorang of AgroCenta.

Stone Atwine, a Ugandan representative from Eversend, discussed how his company facilitates payments across various African markets. He shared personal anecdotes of using Eversend to buy airtime and pay for a cab in Kenya upon landing in Nairobi, as well as purchasing electricity tokens for his grandmother in Uganda while at the airport in London. Atwine emphasized the transformative potential of seamless and affordable money transfers and bill payments across Africa and expressed eagerness to expand his company to more countries through the partnership with Visa.

Orda is a cloud-based restaurant operating system designed to assist restaurants in Africa with order processing, payment acceptance, sales tracking, inventory management, logistics integration, customer engagement, and more. Orda has transitioned to accepting digital payments, including cards and mobile money. Desola Orosami shared that their participation in the Visa Accelerator Program has been beneficial from a knowledge perspective. A significant learning for them has been partner-led growth, which prompted collaborations with another startup in the cohort and with Visa to introduce new NFS-enabled POS machines, thereby fostering business growth.

Otto Williams, Senior Vice President, Head of Product, Partnerships and Solutions at VISA CEMEA, reiterated Visa’s commitment to invest US$1 billion in Africa and to support African fintech startups into the future. Visa plans to plug as many startups as possible into the Visa pipeline through initiatives such as the Visa Accelerator Program, Visa Everywhere Initiative, Visa Fintech Partner Connect and the Fintech Fast Track Program. All this is part of a plan to open the Visa ecosystem to more small and micro sellers who stand at 6 million and this number is expected to grow.

Andrew Torre, Regional President for CEMEA at Visa added that the fintech startups that take part in Visa Accelerator Program should look forward to be supported by Visa after the end of bootcamp. There are apparently also opportunities for funding directly from Visa and also Visa’s partners.

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