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Kenya’s Kwara in the running to achieve unicorn status

Kenyan Fintech start-up Kwara has been selected to join the Norrsken Impact Accelerator program, backed by a €125-million impact VC fund Norrsken VC, in Europe’s unicorn capital: Stockholm, Sweden.

The start-up offers a secure digital banking platform for savings and credit cooperatives, and says it currently serves over 40,000 members in Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines, with over US$40m in monthly transactions on the platform.

The Norrsken Impact Accelerator program is aimed at helping start-ups scale during an eight-week sprint, hosted at Norrsken House Stockholm. The start-ups will receive mentorship and tailored support from serial entrepreneurs, unicorn founders, business leaders and topic experts.

Nineteen other start-ups from Sweden, the US, India, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria and other countries will be participating.

Norrsken VC says it is investing in the best entrepreneurs that solve societal issues using technology. The vision for the Norrsken Impact Accelerator is to create real change through investing in the next generation business models. They focus on businesses where the impact is a result of the core operations and impact and profit go hand-in-hand.

Cynthia Wandia, Kwara’s CEO, says: “Norrsken has proven to find and accelerate high-impact start-ups with unicorn potential and we are honoured to participate this year. Following Kwara’s rapid growth and international presence, we are certain that the close interaction and mentorship from founders of unicorns such as Klarna, Truecaller and Oatly will ensure Kwara learns from the very best as we chart our path to the top.”

Camels vs unicorns

In November 2020 The UK-Kenya Tech Hub said that African countries like Kenya need ‘camels’ rather than the sought-after US$1bn ‘unicorns’ within Silicon Valley. The organisation believes the unicorn model requires large amounts of capital but creates relatively few jobs – and this does not work for Kenya or Africa.

Rather fledgling businesses should aspire to be like camels, sturdy and possessing the ability to withstand tough conditions.

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