The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and BongoHive Innovation and Technology Hub have partnered to launch the FinTech4U Accelerator Programme. FinTech4U is a startup programme targeted at businesses in the FinTech and Digital Financial Services industry with the potential to gain traction and scale up to serve more customers and improve financial inclusion, especially those who are traditionally underserved or “left behind.” A FinTech is defined as a business that uses technology and/or data to bring a new product, service or business model in the financial services sector.
This accelerator programme is in response to the recognition that there are a number of challenges that FinTechs and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) face when entering the market, such as rarely testing products with actual customers and using an iterative model of product development, rarely having the ability or access to other partners in the market, especially the large DFS providers, and lacking the experience or know-how to adequately navigate the regulatory requirements that are relevant to them.
UNCDF and BongoHive believe that by addressing these and other challenges, these FinTechs, SMEs and other stakeholders in the ecosystem will contribute to a stronger infrastructure to support the digital economy and thus improve the livelihoods and opportunities for Zambians.
FinTechs that have been operating from three months to three years are invited to apply for the six-month programme, which is a three-month startup programme and an additional three months of support to businesses that are selected to participate. Entrepreneurs taking part will be offered $3000 prototype funding to pilot and improve their product for the Zambian market and beyond. They will share co-working space at BongoHive, be matched with industry mentors relevant to their startup and have access to one-on-one Legal, Accounting and Finance consultancy.
For successful applicants, the FinTech4U programme will run from 20th January to 16th April, 2020 and will be run in Lusaka. Applications for the accelerator programme open on 4 October, 2019 and will close on 1 November, 2019.
Quote from UNCDF Regional Technical Specialist, Nandini Harihareswara:
FinTech4U was born from UNCDF Zambia’s FinTech scoping in 2017, several conversations with FinTechs, the burgeoning Innovation Hub ecosystem in Zambia, and of course, BongoHive. FinTechs told us that the “mysteries of the DFS Ecosystem” were hard for them to crack, and they didn’t know how to navigate the bigger players and even sometimes the regulatory community. Innovation Hubs told us that the FinTechs in Zambia need more intensive, on the ground support in areas such as human centered design, data analytics and understanding their own financial value. While FinTechs are often interested in serving underserved customers, they don’t always know how to do that. We’ve come together with BongoHive to launch FinTech4U with the intention of bridging the real and burgeoning Digital Economy, to leave no one behind.
Quote from BongoHive Innovation and Technology Hub Co-founder and Executive Director, Lukonga Lindunda:
BongoHive has been running accelerator programmes for the past 4 years and one of the key lessons we have learned is that there is a need to work more closely with other players in the ecosystem in order to improve the business environment and have a higher success of startups in Zambia. FinTech4U accelerator would give BongoHive the platform to work closely with regulators in the fintech space in addition to the strong technical expertise from UNCDF.
Applicants can submit applications as individuals or as teams of not more than three (3) people. Conditions for applications and the application submission link can be found the Zambia FinTech4U Accelerator Programme website.
Both UNCDF and BongoHive encourage female-led businesses to apply.
FinTech4U is an initiative of UNCDF and BongoHive, funded by Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid.