Frontier and Growth Markets | July 19, 2023

World Bank supports fintech startups from oft-overlooked markets in Southern Africa

Lucy Ngige
Guest Author

Lucy Ngige

ImpactAlpha, July 19 – The World Bank-backed Fintech Challenge awards small investment readiness grants to early-stage enterprises providing affordable financial services to underserved communities and businesses. Four of the 10 participants hail from Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia, underinvested markets in the region.

Botswana’s Ipachi Capital has developed a mobile banking and payments app for unbanked small businesses. Namibia’s FundRoof connects rural residents to financing to build homes. In Lesotho, a country with little entrepreneurial infrastructure and even less private investment, Chaperone provides mobile money services in partnership with financial institutions and telecoms, and Prime Capital offers affordable small business loans.

Six cohort members hail from South Africa, the region’s biggest and most active venture market. Moya Money is a financial planning tool for freelancers. Fintr is a gamified financial planning tool for young people. Bento allows employees of small businesses to manage earnings and benefits. Abela, Sum1 Investments and Thumeza rounded out the group.

More than 90% of venture capital invested in Southern Africa last year went to South African startups. Southern African countries rank near the bottom in venture investment activity on the continent; last year, the amount of funding to the region fell by nearly half from 2021.