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Startups can sow seed of success with Village Capital

By , freelance writer for ITWebAfrica.
Africa , 10 Feb 2015

Startups can sow seed of success with Village Capital

African fintech startups have two weeks left to apply for the inaugural Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture East Africa accelerator programme, with two startups to receive $50,000 each in funding.

The Village Capital programme is hosted in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and Duncan Goldie-Scot; and will see 12 fintech startups selected for business development training. At the end of the programme, participants will review each other, to decide which two startups will “win” $50,000 each.

The programme aims to unlock innovations that increase access to financial services for smallholder farmers; and the successful 12 startups will be chosen based on the capacity of their fintech solution to increase the income of smallholder farmers through improving access to financial services.

Village Capital said that all too often smallholder farmers in East Africa are excluded from the mainstream economy due to the fact they lack access to financial services - often because of their location, but also due to the low levels of financial literacy.

The new programme aims to address these issues by supporting tech startups improving access to financial services, to the benefit of smallholder farmers, investors, communities, and entrepreneurs in the region.

“Village Capital connects the best early-stage entrepreneurs to real customer needs across the world, and smallholder farmers in East Africa need access to quality financial services. Together with the MasterCard Foundation, we are addressing this problem by training local start-ups to scale their impact to benefit local farmers,” said Ross Baird, executive director of Village Capital.

The programme will see the selected ventures receive intensive business development training, mentorship from local business leaders and investors, and will involve direct interaction with potential customers.

Village Capital said participating startups are expected to increase revenue growth by 4.5 times and distribute goods and/or services to 200,000 customers - with a primary target of smallholder farmers - over the next two years.

In addition to supporting the selected startups and providing two ventures with seed funding, the partnership aims to create 200 jobs in East Africa over the next two years, with an estimated 60% of these jobs going to individuals living below the poverty line.

Village Capital said the best submissions will be:

Innovations that improve access to payments, financial security, accounting, cash management, credit, loans, cash advances, or other financial services for smallholder farmers or agribusinesses;

First-to-market innovations in the agricultural sector;

Ventures that increase access to financial services in agriculture, or for which smallholders or agribusinesses represent part or all of their customer base;

Technologies that formalise informal markets, increase the efficiency of the agricultural supply chain, improve business that serve smallholder farmers, and/or build wealth for smallholder farmers, low-wealth households, or individuals;

Innovations that provide affordable extensions of credit, loans, cash advances or other financial services to financially underserved households, smallholder farmers or businesses in the agricultural value chain;

Technologies that extend traditional financial services (savings, credit, loans, insurance) to financially underserved households, individuals or businesses in alternative ways.

Applications can be submitted via online application, and close on February 25. The 12 selected startups will be announced in March.

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