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Catalyst Fund Selects More Female-Led Startups into Inclusive Fintech Program

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The Catalyst Fund supporting inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets announced the eighth startup cohort for their flagship Inclusive Fintech Program which features a higher number of female founders and co-founders.

The Catalyst Fund which is a global accelerator manned by BFA Global and enjoys support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co, indicates that for the persistent gender gap in early-stage funding in emerging markets with only 11% of seed funding going to companies with at least one woman on the founding team, they have made a conscious effort to source startups with women in leadership.

Their latest additions with more enterprising women led companies include Koa, Lami Insurance, Power, Kandua, Jetstream and Indicina. These innovative startup companies are all said to be testing embedded financial solutions built for the underserved customers in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.

These range from an embedded insurance platform and API, to an intuitive savings and investment app, to a financial health platform for gig-and salaried workers, to AI-powered credit infrastructure, to trade-financing for exports for underserved SMEs, and an upskilling and financing platform for home service professionals.

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Here are the 6 startups in the inclusive fintech program

INDICINA, based in Nigeria, facilitates lending for individuals and small businesses through AI-powered digital credit infrastructure and credit underwriting services.

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LAMI in Kenya, provides an insurance platform and API to enable more individuals and businesses access insurance coverage.

KOA also in Kenya, enables users of existing tech solutions to more easily save and invest, gaining control over their finances.

KANDUA in South Africa, empowers skilled home service professionals with greater access to customers, professional tools, and digital financial services.

POWER running in Kenya, enables gig and salaried workers to easily access earned wages, loans, insurance, payments and contribute to savings via bank partners, to reduce financial stress.

JETSTREAM in Nigeria, allows businesses to efficiently and affordably export goods across borders and access trade financing.

It is interesting to know that aside the founder of Kandua being male, the rest of the chosen startups have female founders.

In an interview explaining the process in selecting theses startups into the 8th cohort with TechCrunch, MD for Catalyst Fund, Maelis Carraro said,

“Today, fintech is rapidly evolving to the point where it’s no longer a standalone vertical. Embedded finance offerings have the potential to improve the value of products in adjacent sectors significantly while finding new ways to better reach and serve low-income individuals via touchpoints they already know and trust.”

On why there are more women founders in the 8th cohort, she mentioned that, this action was a conscious decision to make the cohort more inclusive for women, given the gap in funding and support to women founders, particularly in emerging markets.

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Revealing that founders in the 7th cohorts were all males and they had to do things differently in the new cohort. Catalyst Fund is making an effort to support as many women founders as it can going forward.

The new cohort joins 37 other companies who have raised US$122 million in follow-on funding since the start of 2016. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors provides fiscal sponsoreship to the fund.

The Catalyst Fund states that it is looking forward to working with them to test new business models and build the tech infrastructure layers needed to embed financial products in other sectors.


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 to learn more about the Next Health Accelerator 2021.

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