Visa has launched a new fintech accelerator program for Africa; to support the continent’s growing start-up community. The payments leader will provide startups with expertise, connections, technology, and potential investment funding.
The Visa fintech accelerator will support up to 40 start-ups each year, by helping them to accelerate growth during a three-month intensive learning program focused on business growth and mentoring.
Following the program completion, Visa intends to further support fintech growth with capital investment in select participating businesses, while accelerating their commercial launch through access to Visa technology and capabilities.
The initiative was introduced by Alfred F. Kelly Jr, executive chairman of Visa, at Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Africa in Marrakech, Morocco.
The accelerator’s launch follows Visa’s recent pledge to invest $1billion in Africa’s digital transformation and its long-term commitment to advancing Africa’s economies and driving inclusive growth.
Fintech startups throughout Africa can apply to be part of the program through two application phases each year, starting from July 2023. Over 1,000 African fintech start-ups took part in the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) competition in 2022 and finalists from African countries this year will be invited to join the accelerator program.
Alfred F. Kelly Jr discussed the investment pledge and new fintech accelerator: “Africa has one of the most exciting and admired fintech ecosystems in the world, bringing outstanding entrepreneurial talent to a young digital-first population that is growing fast.
“Visa has been increasing our investments in Africa for decades and strengthening partnerships throughout the continent to support the next wave of innovation and growth. Our new Fintech Accelerator will bring expertise, connections, and investment to Africa’s best fintech start-ups so they can grow at scale.”
Looking ‘to shape the future of money’
Otto Williams, head of partnerships, products and solutions for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa at Visa, also commented.
Williams said: “Africa’s fintech community is at the forefront of payments innovation and connecting more of the unbanked with access to the digital economy. Visa has been working with this innovative community to create new programs and solutions to help fintechs scale while giving access to Visa’s technology and partner ecosystem.
“Through the new Visa Africa Fintech Accelerator, we are looking forward to working with more brilliant entrepreneurs and companies to shape the future of money”.
Visa’s African Ambitions
In addition to its $1billion pledge to Africa, Visa has recently introduced several business initiatives and programs to further advance the payments ecosystem in Africa. These include:
- Establishing local operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan to help support and strengthen the local financial ecosystem. Visa has ten offices across Africa which support payments across all 54 countries.
- Unveiling the first dedicated Visa Sub-Saharan Africa Innovation Studio, in Nairobi, Kenya, providing a collaborative environment – bringing together clients and partners to co-create future-ready payment and commerce solutions.
- Introducing new technologies that help African consumers and merchants make and receive digital payments, such as Tap to Phone to turn mobile phones into point-of-sale terminals, as well as lowering remittance costs through innovative solutions like Visa Direct.
- Establishing Visa as the fintech partner of choice, working with innovators and entrepreneurs, including through the Visa Everywhere Initiative program, with dedicated country programs in South Africa, Kenya and Egypt.
- Launching new programs to support women’s empowerment together with financial partners, including She’s Next, which is bringing funding, mentoring and networking opportunities to female entrepreneurs leading growing SMBs in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa.
- Collaborating, with partners, to advance financial literacy in several languages, including the first Arabic version of Practical Money Skills in Egypt.