Village Capital last week launched its FinTech for Agriculture: East Africa 2015 accelerator programme at a launch event in Nairobi, revealing the cohort of 12 startups selected to participate in the programme.
The three-month accelerator programme aims to unlock innovations that increase access to financial services for smallholder farmers. Village Capital has precommitted US$100,000 in funding to be awarded to two companies in the cohort.
This year the Village Capital flagship accelerator programme returns to East Africa for the third time; with over 125 applications received for the 2015 programme from nine African countries. Village Capital’s investment committee selected the 12 most outstanding startups on the basis of how their ideas have the potential to increase incomes for smallholder farmers by improving their access to financial services.
The 12 startup firms selected to join the three month programme are:
- Atikus Insurance: Expands access to credit by increasing the capacity of MSME lenders via reimagined insurance and technology risk solutions.
- Chamasoft: Web and mobile app to automate record keeping for investment groups.
- Ensibuuko: Builds ICT solutions to enable enterprises deliver financial services efficiently and to scale rapidly, reaching underserved communities.
- FarmDrive: Transforming how smallholder farmers access financial services.
- Farmerline: Provides accurate and timely agricultural information to farmers and also provides technology to stakeholders to work better.
- M-Shamba: Interactive platform for smallholder farmers and traders.
- Mobipay: Technology solutions to various economic sectors to drive commerce and trade.
- nanoCredit Technologies: Lending and de-risking engines, providing structured digital finance for small farms.
- Rangerland Solutions: Online livestock marketing platform that directly connects buyers and sellers, reducing marketing costs.
- Redcore Interactive: remit.ug is a platform for online international money transfers to mobile money in Africa.
- SmartMoney: Free-of-charge branchless mobile banking to unbanked rural communities in Uganda and Tanzania.
- YieldUganda: Sources high quality, traceable food products for local and export markets.
As of last week the chosen startups will commence the three month programme focusing on business model canvassing, customer hypothesis testing, financial modeling, partnership and customer development, and investor engagement. The cohort will present to potential partners and customers at a pitch day, as well as pitch to investors at an investor demo day.
Village Capital has pre-committed US$100,000 in investment to be shared by two startups in the cohort. The winners of the funding will be chosen by the accelerator participants at the end of the programme in June. Each of the two selected companies will receive US$50,000 in funding.
“Thanks to the pool of talented and innovative startups that applied for a place on our programme from across East Africa, it was a challenging process to select the final 12. We have been truly impressed with the quality of applications received this year,” John Mulqueen, Financial Associate at Village Capital said, speaking at the launch event.
“We are very excited to get started with our programme, and get down to work. We look forward to building and shaping the innovative solutions our startups are creating, and we believe their work will truly unlock the value of East Africa’s agricultural sector,” Mulqueen said.
“The Village Capital Fintech for Agriculture programme is great for remit.ug because it provides us and other entrepreneurs with an opportunity to grow, and to help a very critical group of people – the financially underserved. We are excited about networking and sharing with other entrepreneurs in the space who are facing the same challenges,” said Stone Atwine, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Recore International, one of the selected startups.
“Through enabling smallholder farmers to use financial technologies, Africa’s agri-potential will surely be unlocked. We at Mobipay are very excited to be involved in the Village Capital programme, which will be a key player in realising Africa’s potential,” said Charles Kiinde, founder of Mobipay.
Programme graduates are expected to increase their revenue growth by 4.5 times, and distribute goods and/or services to 200,000 customers within the two years following completion of the accelerator. Village Capital estimates the companies forming the cohort will create 200 jobs over the next two years in East Africa, with an estimated 60% of jobs going to individuals living below the poverty line.
The accelerator will see the 12 startups participate in three workshops to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on April 15-18, May 19-22 and June 22-25. The two startups to receive the funding will be announced at the end of June.