After 13 weeks of intensive networking, mentoring and development, 10 companies have showcased their innovative fintech businesses at a ‘Demo Day’ in Cape Town, as the first-ever cohort of the Barclays Accelerator in Africa concluded. The three month fintech accelerator programme was hosted by Rise, Barclays Africa’s open innovation hub, in Cape Town.
The Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is an intensive startup programme designed to capture, shape and scale the next generation of innovative fintech businesses. The programme draws upon mentors from across Barclays and the Techstars network.
An audience of more than 400 including investors, industry experts, fintech specialists, as well as Absa and Barclays executives attended the Demo Day to hear how the startups are tackling different challenges on the African continent and ultimately help shape the future of financial services across insurance, payments and agriculture.
Commenting on the programme, Head of Open Innovation at Barclays Africa, Paul Nel said: “As Barclays Africa we are committed to driving leading fintech innovation that translates into lifestyle-enabling products and services for our customers, and creates greater financial inclusion across the continent.”
“We are thrilled with the quality of the ventures. This first-ever cohort to participate in the Barclays Accelerator programme in Africa has set the bar very high. They richly deserve the opportunity to showcase their businesses at the Demo Day, and attempt to secure further investment and signed POCs.”
Yossi Hasson, Managing Director of Techstars in Cape Town added: “The Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars once again showed why it is the pre-eminent fintech accelerator in world. This Africa class will now join the Techstars global ecosystem which spans 15 000 community leaders, mentors, founders and investors across 137 countries.”
During the event the companies highlighted their impressions of the programme.
Asoriba (Ghana): “Depth is the word I will use to describe our experience in the Barclays Accelerator programme. With the help of the team, we have gone deeper into our business and have identified what we need to do to make it a success. Before now, we have been struggling to focus on our end-goal.
Thanks to great leadership of Yossi Hasson, MD of Techstars Cape Town, and the entire team, we have learnt to be excellent at what we do and dive deep into the clients’ needs. We also lacked knowledge around email marketing and how to keep a clean domain name. We actually had issues with our mass email provider. Techstars helped us fix these issues, signed us up on a new email service and helped us get our transactional and marketing emails up and running again,” said Nana Agyeman-Prempeh.
BenBen (Ghana): “For BenBen, this programme has been instrumental in growing our network and stakeholders that will participate in our initial launch with the Ghanaian government. With the advice from the mentors we have been able to expand our business model to include B2B services for banks, insurance providers, and real estate firms. BenBen aims to launch a pilot programme which will have a searchable digital map populated with data from the Lands Commission, Barclays Africa and BenBen surveyors to our initial users which will be Barclays Africa employees in Ghana,” said Emmanuel Noah.
Beyonic (Uganda and United States): “For Beyonic, participating in the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars gives us the ability to supercharge our business by fast-tracking our ability to work with the bank and the incredible Techstars network. By the end of the programme, we are looking to close several major deals with global financial institutions and position Beyonic for rapid growth in multiple markets,” said Luke Kyohere.
iNuka Pap (Kenya): “As one of the start-up companies going through the Barclays Accelerator, iNuka Pap is getting rich mentorship from the vast selection of experts. We are finding better, faster and more effective ways of running our business. In addition, we are making valuable partnerships with corporates that are strategically placed in the market. We have enhanced our company’s business in terms of market penetration and operations. We are confident in our product and hope we can use it to significantly improve the lifestyle of people living in rural Kenya,” said Waweru Kuria.
Jamii (Tanzania): “The Barclays Accelerator programme tops all my MBA studies put together. I have received the most direct training on running my business, predicting economies and matching it up in my business case, product design, financial modelling, marketing best practice and most of all made a lot of worthwhile connections while networking.
"The Barclays Accelerator programme has transformed me as an individual to a more confident entrepreneur. I understand my work and the worth of my business. I have improved my persona and most of all transformed our business. I hope to have found solutions to our acquisition problem and attract enough investors to expand my business in Tanzania and later grow in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa,” said Lilian Charles Makoi.
ReAble (Lebanon): “Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars has provided us with an immense amount of help ranging from mentors to connecting us to major experts, executives and entrepreneurs in the fintech industry. The guidance and opportunities that we received here have accelerated our company further beyond what we expected to achieve. I would say three months of the programme is equivalent to three years’ worth of company standalone progress,” said Emile Sawaya.
SimbaPay (Kenya and Nigeria): “Two key value adds from participating in the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techsatrs are firstly learning from much wiser mentors and secondly, initiating great partnerships within the Techstars network. We expect to expand our remittance services leveraging Barclays Africa’s reach and SimbaPay’s agility. The programme also helped to sharpen our business strategy and execution, and to secure investment to support our growth plan,” said Enoch Nyasinga Onyancha.
Social Lender (Nigeria): “The programme has been extremely valuable to us as individuals and as a business. Completely eye-opening and the networking is out of this world. We hope to have a successful POC and begin preparation for a fully-fledged business partnership with Barclays Africa and scale very quickly,” said Faith Ekwebelam.
Tech4Farmers (Uganda): “To tap into the kind of network the programme has given us access to in just three months would otherwise have cost a lifetime of hard work. It's priceless. We hope that we will be better positioned to give our customers a much-needed better experience in our field,” said Deogratious Afimani.
WizzPass (South Africa): “This programme has given us access to an extremely big network of individuals willing to help us through our business journey and enhance our chances of success. The knowledge gained has been immense, from master class sessions to interacting with fellow start-ups and mentors in the programme. We have concluded a successful POC with Barclays Africa as well as securing seed funding. We hope to enhance our traction in the corporate and retail sector,” said Bradley Hornby.