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Boost Ghana & KudiGo to Receive $120K in the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator

The BFA Global managed Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce accelerator, has in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), announced the first cohort of digital commerce companies to be scaled. The goal is to improve livelihoods of informal MSEs in Ghana.

Boost Ghana and KudiGo are enabling small retailers to grow by easing business administration, digitizing operations, improving access to working capital and reducing the cost of doing business, while providing suppliers with efficient access to MSE customers on the ground.

The Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce accelerator

Both companies will receive up to US$120,000 in capital funding, along with:

  • Deep, bespoke, expert-led venture acceleration support;
  • Connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors and Circle of Corporate Innovators, and;
  • In-market expertise from MEST.

According to Jane del Ser, Program Director for the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator.

“MSEs are the backbone of Ghana’s economy, representing about 80% of the MSME sector and employing over 50% of Ghanaians (MOTI 2019). Within the MSE sector, informal work is predominant and contributes to 90% of employment

She continues that following the COVID-19 crisis, micro and small enterprises in particular usually lack access to a financial safety net, which significantly impacts their livelihoods and ability to do business. As most transactions and records occur offline.

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Jane also points that these businesses also lack digital financial records that can grant them access to the working capital they need to survive.

These she concludes, that Both Boost Ghana and KudiGo present digital solutions that have the potential to significantly impact the livelihoods of thousands of informal MSE owners in the West African country.

Inclusive Digital Commerce
Inclusive Digital Commerce to help grow MSEs

Since launching the program in November 2020, Catalyst Fund has conducted research on MSEs in urban and peri-urban retail shops around Accra (Ghana’s capital city) and found that 100% of shop owners have smartphones, and more than half already market their businesses via social media.

However, very few currently use digital means to purchase inputs, manage their businesses on a day to day basis, or fulfill orders; only 20% buy inputs online, and 80% purchase inventory in-person, at markets or at a store. This leads to costly transportation expenses, and it means MSEs cannot guarantee the availability of supplies or price stability enjoyed by larger retailers.

Boost Ghana is tackling this challenge by enabling underserved small businesses in Ghana to order stock digitally at the best wholesale prices, and receive efficient, same-day deliveries. For suppliers, they provide direct access to last-mile retail customers at scale, providing critical data and reducing the cost of distribution.

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KudiGo also provides a holistic retail management solution for small business owners, including inventory management, a CRM, mobile money payments and a digital storefront, enabling businesses to build a digital footprint and access financial services more easily. They also offer their MSE customers last-mile delivery via partners.

In addition to working with Boost and KudiGo, the Catalyst Fund team aims to grow the wider digital commerce ecosystem, by partnering with corporate innovators and investors who can help these companies scale, in an effort to create a more enabling investment and business environment.

In a press statement, Nathalie Akon Gabala, the Mastercard Foundation Regional Director for West, Central and Northern Africa sai,

“Digitizing MSEs is critical to growing the informal sector and unlocking their potential to scale up and be at the forefront of Ghana’s economic recovery.”

Gabala added that leveraging the collective capacity of local digital commerce companies to lead this effort is definitely a step in the right direction.

This month, Catalyst Fund released an investment brief containing three areas of opportunity for inclusive digital commerce innovation in the Ghanaian market. The brief can be found here.

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9 Startups Accepted into the First Next Health Accelerator with $15K Seed Funding

Next Health Accelerator
image courtesy: Valorigo

Intrepid Entrepreneurs, a non-profit designed to catalyze the power and promise of young people and women to fundamentally advance their societies, recruited nine startups for the inaugural cohort of the Next Health Accelerator.

Female, African entrepreneurs with a minimum viable product (MVP) from 26 countries applied to the program. After a rigorous review process, nine startups from seven countries were selected to begin the program in March 2021. The investor readiness accelerator is six months long and includes $15,000 seed funding, international mentors and partners, business support services, and value chain access.

The Next Health Accelerator’s focus on sexual and reproductive health is founded on the premise that unmet needs for sexual education, menstrual hygiene management, family planning, medication abortion, and STI diagnosis and treatment will be most sustainably delivered by local African enterprises.

Sexual and Reproductive Health issues directly affect 300 million women and girls on the continent and the productivity of the entire continent. For the continent to prosper and support its burgeoning youth population, it must harness the demographic dividend with access to equitable healthcare and economic opportunities. Next Health Accelerator addresses both.

Next Health Accelerator

The 2021 cohort includes:

  • Rocket Health: Provides telemedicine and pharmacy services for SRH needs including convenient lab test retrieval and medication delivery in Uganda
  • Verifie: Delivers STI self-tests and treatment products via doorstep delivery in Ghana
  • Pharmaserve: Specializes in delivering high-quality pharmaceuticals in Nigeria through a fully integrated inventory monitoring system
  • Girls Pride: Provides menstrual hygiene management education and skills training to create reusable pads in The Gambia
  • Pad-Up Creations: Employs over 100 people in Nigeria to produce single-use, chemical-free pads sold in 16 countries
  • Valorigo: Manufacturers single-use sanitary eco-friendly pads made from locally grown bamboo in the Congo
  • The Grace Cup: Delivers SRH education and reusable menstrual cups in Kenya
  • Kosmotive: Provides SRH information and access to SRH self-care products in Rwanda
  • Massira: Delivers SRH information interactively as well as access to SRH services and products through an online community in Ghana 
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Lindsey Simmonds, the Co-founder of Intrepid Entrepreneurs in a press statement said,

“After 15 years in philanthropy, I believe now more than ever that it is women who will solve women’s health challenges and it is Africans who will solve Africa’s development challenges.”

She continued that, development policies made in Washington, D.C. or London need to make room for the power and promise of the youth and women on the African continent. And on this premises, their Next Health Accelerator catalyzes African startups to investor readiness to make scalable, sustainable impact imbued with the commitment and determination that only comes from homegrown ideas.

Visit the intrepidentrepreneurs.org to learn more about the Next Health Accelerator 2021.

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