Five South African financial technology startups have been awarded a total of $350,000 at a pitching event hosted by fintech club AlphaCode, reports DisruptAfrica. The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) event held in Johannesburg earlier this week, saw the Black-owned startups each walk away with $69,000 in funding from Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings. During the pitch-event, 11 contestants had five minutes each to pitch their businesses to four judges, who included Rand Merchant Investments Senior Investment Executive Dominique Collett, Merrill Lynch South Africa CEO Richard Gush, Royal Bafokeng Holdings CEO Albertina Kekana, and Identity Partners Principal Partner Sonja Sebotsa.
“The winning businesses were selected because of their ability to meet our judging criteria, which included their pricing and revenue-generating models and how delivery and implementation would occur,” Collett explained.
Gush added that South Africa has the potential to become a fintech center of excellence because of its incredibly advanced financial services infrastructure.
“This provides an empowering context for emerging fintech entrepreneurs and financial technology innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of different communities, many of whom have previously had little access to safe and reliable financial services,” he said.
The five startups that took home a share of the top prize included online invoice selling startup, E-Factor, payment and commercial credit startup, Imafin, credit application platform, Invoiceworx, a digital platform for saving schemes called Stokfella, and Heritage Capital Partners, which seeks to invest growth capital into small to medium-sized companies.
The aim of the B-BBEE event is to identify and reward high potential South African fintech entrepreneurs in order to increase the development of fintech in the country.
This is positive news for the country, following a 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report that argued that entrepreneurial ventures in the country have declined by almost 30 percent since 2014.
Some of the reasons cited for this decline include government policy and access to finance.